Playing around with fonts


At the risk of stating the obvious, let me state the obvious. Fonts matter. A lot. In fact, they can make one’s writing appear better than it often is.  Since it is the appearance that first draws us into any activity, I think fonts play a decisive role in literature. With the obvious stated, let me move on to my current fascination—font design.

I have always liked to design shapes. Fonts are shapes. There is a variety of font designing software, both free and otherwise, that one can download. However, since I approach fonts as a piece of drawing—calligraphy, really—I prefer to do it as an artwork. The one above has been triggered by the idea of some day doing a children’s book. For children, the appeal in doing anything is often primarily visual. The panel above is still bare bones. The font needs polishing and coloring but the basic shape seems to have come together. In children’s books for a certain age group words are not just a carrier of meaning but characters of the story that is being told.

Although calligraphy and, by implication, font design as we understand it now have been around for about 2600 years or so, it is only after the advent of the computer that they have become so widespread. Any form of written communication these days is arrived at after considerable attention to font details. Take for instance, the following command that is on my office wall. The first image uses Andalus font, the second Bookman Old Style and the third Academy Engraved. Since it is meant to be an instruction or a command, its issuer—in this case me—would like it to carry authority. The first image, although quite clear, seems to suggest that its issuer might be lenient even if you violated the command.  It has to do with the kind of font it is. The second image while being officious and authoritative enough still seems to have some measure of flexibility in its enforcement. The third one, in contrast to the other two, seems set in stone and gives the impression that the violators will be shoved under the guillotine. (Literary exaggeration).

Now imagine the same command in the font I have designed. It would seem as if its issuer would join you with gusto as you joyously violate its intent. This is what font does.




About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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