Eric Gill On Letters

I guess I’ll start with one of my favorite type related quotes:

“Everybody thinks that he knows an A when he sees it…but only the few extraordinary rational minds can distinguish between a good one & a bad one, or can demonstrate precisely what constitutes A-ness. When is an A not an A? Or when is an R not an R…? It is clear that for any letter there is some sort of norm. To discover this norm is obviously the first thing to be done.”

From An Essay on Typography by Eric Gill, page 45-46

When I first read this, I thought instantly about the process of graffiti. While graffiti lettering often strays far from the norm of the letters, it is essential for a good writer to be able to identify these norms and keep them in his or her mind while altering them. If a letter deviates too far from its norm, it becomes unreadable or easily confused with another letter (I still seem to have the bad habit of making Rs that look like Bs). As Gill says, discovering this norm is “the first thing to be done.” I think this is true for writers, as well as type designers.

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2 responses to “Eric Gill On Letters

  1. I can’t wait to read some of your topics and really put in my two cents.

  2. is a tag a norm? can an individual author a new norm?

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