Dear Hermann Zapf:

{ Monday, November 19, 2007 }

Thank you for Palatino.

The thing about technology moving so fast is that we become dinosaurs that much sooner. I remember the first time I selected a font besides Courier. I was working on one of the two Macs in the graduate school's lab. I highlighted a line of text and selected Century Schoolbook. Magic.

But because I started reading as a child, and because fairy tales were so often beautifully typeset, when I began to understand that someone somewhere had designed the typeface, I imagined that it had been done long ago, maybe carved by hand into wooden blocks.

Sir, what is there in the sensibility and the experience of one man, outside even the published historical facts you have lived through -- flue pandemic? Nazis? -- to have created so many elegant, even poignant typefaces? They all have such dignity. I'm thinking in particular of Zapf Book. (I love the combination of Zapf Book with Zapf Chancery as its italic face.) This is a typeface for the testament of an honest and observant soul.

Even Optima, with its quirkier narrows and surprising open spaces, is not a typeface for unsure words.

Then there's Palatino Linotype. It is the font of spare poetry, the font of a farewell letter. Graceful but not effete, practical but not unimaginative. The S is like the fat and the thin of a human sigh. The Q, both upper and lower case, is itself a gently raised eyebrow.

Sir, I have a little crush on you. I hope you have made scads of money and that you live in a beautiful place and see your friends often. Thank you for helping make words look desirable. Thank you so much for your work.

Ann Elizabeth

Typography Links:

The life story of Hermann Zapf
Planet Typography
A bibliography of books on type

No comments:

Post a Comment

Playground rules: We don't post name-calling, unconstructive meanness, or spam, and we ignore those who do, or our posts will be deleted as well.