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History of Type

Hi all! This week’s Design Talk will focus more on typography. Typography is one of the unsung heroes when it comes to branding and designing for business needs. Words pack more of a visual and artistic punch than we give it credit for. Just reference any fiction-genre book that you’ve read, and how you knew what to imagine, feel, and think without the aid of pictures or the movie adaptation. It jogs the imagination; individualistic and unique to every person. 

If type without any treatment to it can affect a person like this, imagine what typographic design can do. A book that I worked from in undergrad that does such a wonderful job in outlining and going into detail about typography is Typerules!: The Designer’s Guide to Professional Typography by Ilene Strizver. 

Before the Gutenberg printing press, typography was a painstaking process and because of that, reading material was meant for a select few. Once the printing press turned this endeavor into a mass-produced commodity, the floodgates of typography and editorial design were flung wide open and there was more room, time, and money to create eye-catching reading material for a wider audience. Now, everyone has access to reading material, and the process of passing down knowledge and information went from a utilitarian task to one that focused on how the information was getting across. How did the words and images work together on the page? Type was manipulated to create differently styled letterforms and numbers. Design became a craft. 

I know that this is somewhat a stretch to connect this bit of information to the jewelry industry, but marketing and branding principles haven’t changed very much within the last 500 years, other than the technology that it exists on. Technology allowed for the development of type families that today we don’t really think twice about. 

Taking a page out of Strizver’s book, I think it’s beneficial to go over some of the type styles. Not only are there serifs and san serifs, as well as script and handwritten typefaces, but it goes a little deeper than that. Just within the serif family, there exists Oldstyle, Transitional, Modern, Clarendon, Slab serifs, and Glyphic. These styles for the most part are determined by the time period in which they were created and have a very unique tone and voice to them. 

If you are interested in delving further into the intricacies of type design, I encourage you to look more at Strizver’s book Typerules!: The Designer’s Guide to Professional Typography. Don’t let the name fool you; everybody can and should look at all aspects of design and how they influence our perceptions of branding and marketing for companies. 

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