Design History Typefaces of the 20th Century

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Design History

Typefaces of the 20th Century

Thomas Wimbish

Thomas Wimbish

Instructor Mary Skrenta


6 May 2013

Design History: Typefaces of the 20th Century

A typeface is the design or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. There are many different styles of typefaces floating around, and each of them have different twist or interpretation to them; thus making them different and special. A commonly mistaken term is typeface, and it’s frequently confused with the term font or used as its synonym. Before the digital revolution (with digital typography & desktop publishing) the two terms had a more clearly understood meaning, but since that time the two have been almost molded together.

“The art and craft of designing typefaces is called type design. Designers of typefaces are called type designers, and often typographers. In digital typography, type designers are also known as font developers or font designers. Refer to the list of typographers of notable typographers around the world.” (Wikipedia).

Typefaces really took off when a group of individuals got together and formed the Art Workers Guild in 1884. As a group they sought out the quality of type and it’s arrangement, that productions might have ' a definitive claim to beauty' while being 'easy to read'. When designers set out to design different typefaces they have to look at the readability and legibility of their design because those to factors are key in making a great and widely used typeface. Legibility is a key factor for designers, ensures that each individual character is distinguishable from the characters in the font they are creating. As for readability, it is mostly the concern of the typographer or information designer, and is the result of the complete process of presentation of textual material. Now with this short background on the history of typefaces, and what goes into making one, and the difference between typefaces and fonts.

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