Letters that speak : framing experiential properties of type

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Peer-Reviewed Research

Abstract:

Letterforms exhibit a great many structural differences across a plethora of assorted typefaces. Opting for the elegance of Chronicle’s charming characters over a bolder Bebas brigade for example, suggests that the structural complexity of each typeface strikes a remarkably particular tone. In my view, these complexities embodied by the letterform are under-explored in design discourse2 (van Leeuwen 2005:138). I maintain that typography is largely viewed as inherently linguistic – as dependant on the rhetoric of language. Furthermore, I believe that the visual manifestation of type is really a visual manifestation of language, of thought – a “true art”. In my experience as a designer and design educator, I have observed that the majority of typographic exploration is limited to the semantic quality of type, where the appropriateness of letterforms – changes in their structural composition – are qualified by the degree to which they promote and elevate the conceptual genius of either language, illustration or other forms of parerga.