Fans of Embody 3D, you would know by now that I really am passionate about typography and I know many of you are as well. Never did I know that in my first year of university that what many considered to be the boring typography class, that a new world would awaken. That is, the art of typography. Typography for many years of my life I thought consisted of the typical Microsoft Word, Times New Roman, and if I was feeling modern or edgy I might crank out some Arial or go for the cliché Helvetica; and I am embarrassed to say, if I was feeling designerly I might even use some Papyrus! Yuk! But things have changed. My logos actually look decent now, and my reports professional, and most importantly they look unique. Looking unique is more important than ever in this digital age of competition. So much of my progress has been from my advancement in knowledge of typography, and as many of you enthusiasts can appreciate, it is quite a fine art!
We have reviewed a few typography books from Rockport publishers before and they all have been amazing; some of you must think I get paid from Rockport, but I don’t, but I wish I was haha! For the public record we don’t receive any remuneration for these reviews we have done over the last few years, nor will we in the future. With that said, we had high expectations when we received Design Elements – Typography Fundamentals by Kristin Cullen and published by Rockport. I was a little bit disconcerted when I read the part “fundamentals” i.e. “beginners”, because sometimes I feel there are just way too many beginner typography books out there and not enough for the pros. But at the same time one must remember that so many “professional” graphic artist don’t have any formal education in typography anyway so for many professionals this book will be your kickstart to mastering typography.
As a graphic artist, like a tradesperson, it is so important to understand your tools. You never want to be restricted by your tools and techniques, and once you have finished Design Elements – Typography Fundamentals I can promise you that you wont have this restricted feeling when you design a logo again. Rather you will be buzzing with ideas and an experimental ethos.
Like many Rockport titles the book is beautifully printed, and contains stunning industry examples, but somewhat uniquely this title has more diagrams, and I consider this to be a great strength of the title. With its spaced out text and at times over use of photography and not enough ‘meat’ aka theory and its 150 page running length, sometimes it feels like the book glosses over things a little too quickly. Without exaggerating you could smash this book in one night with a bit of focus and desire and it is tempting to do so.
Some highlights include the ‘parts of type’ section which deconstructs the different elements that make up a letter. Of course it covers all the key areas like letter and line spacing, bold and italics, serifs and sans serifs, uppercase and lowercase, grids, paragraphs, different styles of type, you get the idea I am sure.
Design Elements – Typography Fundamentals covers the basics and pretty much nothing else, don’t expect any bonus content or CD’s or anything, just the bare bones. And for many this is all you need, especially those with the tv-like episodic attention spans. For students who are serious about typography and want to not only cover the basics but get some real history and context this might not be your cup of tea; I would consider checking out some of Rockport’s other titles. As mentioned previously, although informative and providing a great mix of educational content and industry examples, the book is a little short for most tastes.