LiveBlog of ATypI 2011 Day Three

Usual disclaimer for live blogging: These are informal notes taken by Dave Crossland at the ATypI 2011, and may or may not be similar to what was said by the people who spoke at ATypI on these topics. Probably if something here is incorrect its because Dave mistyped it or misunderstood, and if anyone wants corrections, they should email him immediately – or post a comment!

Thomas Phinney: TSI: Type Scene Investigations

1. Evil step mother

An old guy married in late life, they had an ‘estate’ near Monterey CA, and without a will the evil stepmother would get 1/3, but she tied up the estate by rotating lawyers and spending it. There was a $300,000 suburban house, not so big, and after years she ran out of delay tactics…. and then found a will!

Set in Times, he leaves $1 to each kid, and I was brought in to say what the typeface was EXACTLY. I compared Times, Times New Roman, and there are a few glyphs with big differences, the cap S in TNR has vertical terminal cuts, Times has slanted ones, and the ‘F’ is much wider.

TNR was in Windows 3.1, a few years to late for a 1983 will, but I couldn’t be sure when it was first published. So I looked at the PRINTING with a microscope.

Inkjets ‘bleed’ along the paper grain, and speckles like a photocopier, whereas offset is very smooth. The only inkjet was a HP with 180dpi, and when you see its a 300 DPI inkject, that is game over.

There were other things, the wording of the will, but I showed the enlargements to the judge in the will contestation. I wasn’t cross examined, it was too damanging, so the will was tossed out. The house was sold, the estate wound down and kids got money (less legal fees…) and the evil step mother fled the law! There’s still a warrant for their arrest; if they get a speeding ticket or something then they may get busted, but its easy to find her online ;)

2. Rabbi

A Rabbi who was very social, a high powered guy, he blessed the US House of Representatives, but yet he didn’t seen to know the Torah very well. Some people became suspicious. He brought the community together, but on matters of doctrine and faith he sometimes seemed less knowledgable.

He was pressured to produced his educational certificates, and being a Rabbi is more fluid than a priest, the hierarchy is different, but you have to go to Rabbinial school and you get a certificate. He produced a scan of a fax of something. He claimed the original, his ex wife had it, and all he could get from her was a fax. Sure. But the sharp eyed congregation said it looked funny. This is dated 1968, and its from a school that burned down! So you couldn’t verify it upstream.

But you could look at the type!

Someone thought it was Lucida Calligrpahy. I looked more closely and its Monotype Corsiva. That’s a computer font, not released until some 20 years after 1968.

Most of the people in the community were against her, but the idea had spread and while there was no court case, eventually he moved on and is no longer a public figure.

3. Presidential Plot

The CBS/Killian memoes, said to date from the 1972/3, when G W Bush was in the National Guard and didn’t go to Vietnam. These memoes were shown on CBS’ “60 minutes” and could have made him look bad.

But they were not authentic!

Dated 01 August 1973. The letterforms were degraded a lot to be conclusive. A low res scan of a fax. The originals were burned…

But I looked at the RELATIVE line endings; unless fonts are made to have the same metrics 100%, its like a “FONT FINGERPRINT” – so you can overlay a reproduction using Times New Roman, and the line endings are dead on. Thats pretty convincing.

People said, where are the widths from anyway; could a proportional spacing type writer of that time do it? There was one, and some low end type setting devices – but people REALLY wanted them to be real. The IBM Selectric COMPOSER? Used in a national guard secretarial pool? It has proportional fonts, but htey all use the same widths. The ‘i’ is always the same. The 9 unit system was also very crude compared to Monotype’s 18 unit system. But I built a computer font that used the metrics system, and consistently there were details that were up to a full glyph width offset.

I offered then and toady $1,000 if you can show this isn’t true :)

The credibility damage was severe, Rather had to retire early from CBS. A few people think they are real today, and a Professor Hailey got access to better copies and proved it was not Times New Roman – but Times Roman!

This didn’t effect the GWB re-election.

4. Special Sack

John ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson. Back in the days mail was posted very slowly. They found a bag in an antique shop, they thought it might have been in a museum; and it has a label on it with text about it being presented by some President of something…. and they asked me to date the label, but, I figured the museum would have put it on.

Torben Wilhelmsen: Designer’s update: Type, design and automated layout

This is about integrating type and design through templates into automated lage layouts for multi platform publishing, such as print magazines and blogs on computers, tablets and mobiles.

The print magazine is used by the hand, and in the future, we dont know what will happen.

Speed is a sense of how often new things come along. It took me 9-10 years to get a PC after they came out, 5 years to get online after I could, and a couple years to get a smartphone, a few months to get a tablet when they came out. Its 5 years to get on LinkedIn, 3 years to Facebook, 1 year to Twitter, and so on.

Embrace randomness in the automation of the design process.

In 2011 Erik van BLokland quoted his brother Petr “everything that cannot be automated is design. anything that can be automated, will, eventually, be automated”. I made a screensaver with Henrik Birkvig that animated the atypi annual logotype that year.

House Industries presented Ed Interlock at ATypI Helsinki 2005.

2 years ago I redid my logo on my website – from a “W” to a automated drawing that makes a slightly different logo each time.

These could be seen as musical notes, and even played! Demo!

Is there a strategy for publishing in this?

One challenge is the increasing amount of devices, formats and materials used for reading. Negroponte said ‘physical books will be gone in 5 years’ in 2010 because print works for a limited amount of poeple; and if you want worldwide information, it must be digital.

There are oboslete dinosaurs; all file based applicatoins, applications with dedicated formats, …

Wired + InDesign made an iPad Magazine, a 550mb thing. A huge thing! And lacks navigation, a snese of where you are.

We went tot he drawing board to make a magazine digitally.

New design principles with Petr van Blokland: Compliant to all standards. Separate content from design and techniques. The design knows the user (if you read slowly, it looks different). Unique information only exists once, and is replicated so updates are propagated. is the CMS we built for such work: was one project we did with Xeirpa. TreeSaver is a JS library, initiated by Roger Black, and it is a client side rendering programe to render text and imges and fills the space available.

Landscape and portrait modes must be specific. There are not enough designers in the world to design everything! So we design rules for layouts and let the computer do it automatically.

The Nomad system was simplified for TypoBerlin2011 and also Ready Media templates. With @media css, the elements change depedning on the width of the display. did a mobile site. Mobile isnt major on the market yet, it will increase in importance. Why not make mobile first and then adapt desktop to what works for mobile?

Mobile first, desktop later (or not), and print later (or not), with all data in the cloud, and everything doubling every year.

Nadine Chahine: A typeface with a soul

Nadine is an Arabic specialist with Linotype, a Monotype Imaging company, but this is her own presentation and doesn’t have anything to do with her employer.

This typeface starts with the story of Lebanon. You know, the political situation? Lebanon had a civil war 1975-90, and when the war finished, people partied :-) That’s the Lebanese response to good and bad news – people who were fighting became friends, and many people wanted to forget the tragedies of the past.

But some problems remained. The solutions didn’t really come, and while some people were gone – Israel had left, although the Syrians remained – in 2009 the ex prime minister was assassinated. Its a small country, 3 hours to drive across the whole country and 3-4 million people, a small country on the world stage. With the assassination, Lebanon was back in the western news, and there was more conflict.

A leading newspaper stepped from an observation role to a participatory role in events when the chief editor joined the Parliament. With the problems, the editor left for Paris, and when he came back he was assassinated. In his wake, his daughter who was 23 said she would take on the newspaper; she ran for his parliament seat too, and got it, and is now the youngest member of parliament.

For the 1st year anniversary of the assassination, she wanted to redesign the newspaper. It was last designed in the 1970s and she wanted to modernise, have digital versions, the whole thing. She got in touch with Mario Garcia, a leading newspaper designer. Nadine had read the paper as a kid, and while sometimes disagrees politically, she wanted to support her as a young woman and was very happy when she was asked to work on this project.

The team looked at the existing type, and Nadine made a new type design; working on the typeface design and the typography too, on type size, leading, which types to mix, those kind of specifications.

It happened FAST! It started with talks in November, focused meetings in early Deember, and the type was delivered by the end of the month! It was a full-on project, and it is a bold design, a masculine design especially for Nadine, being ‘tough and strong.’

Its more than simply a newspaper type, yet another normal 5 minute brief. The type is the voice of the paper. Its in a Naskh style for reading, it has compact proportions for headlines, and there are sharp angles. Looking at the Aleph, the first char drawn, the angles are not too sharp and aggressive… they are sculpted forms with shallow curves, like a puff of wind and you hold yourself against them. The calligraphic origins are there, but its solid – without being clumsy. That was Nadine’s inteiton.

There are 2 weights, as time and budget prevented more, and this works for headlines.

Here’s the old type compared with the new. Nadine likes to play, do hybrids, explore, but this is conservative within the reading conventions – more than her usual work – but there are details like sharp entry strokes. … The words look solid in themslves; the old design works fine, but it lacks the presence and there are thin details that don’t add up to the solid effect of the new one.

The headline type was briefed to work with the text face, so Nadine brought features from the text face into the new one; it was also designed to work well with Univers Next Arabic.

Here’s some mock spreads from the newspaper’s magazine. Nadine spec’d the various usage contexts; normally you loose control of how the type is used as a type designer, but with Nadine involved in the typographic specs she could set the type so it looks at its best – like a specimen for the work being printed every day! haha :-)

Nadine was very excited to work on this project, and has a copy of the first issue literally HOT off the presses, so freshly printed that it has finger prints :-)

And readers say that the newspaper is easier to read now!

Tom Milo: The rôle of Dutch Arabic Typography in Middle Eastern Printing

This from Venice, 1514, meant for Christians within the Islamic world, and there’s the first ‘europism’ – an “L” (mirrored) that doesnt existing in arabic writing. There are ‘z’ and /\ forms too throughout the centuries.

I have a concept of ‘script grammars’ where letters drawn wider can confuse. Arabic Ligatures are tehre to reproduce the structure, not just calligraphic flourishes. THis has been misunderstood for centuries.

How do you learn hebrew if you live in the low land marshes of the rhine?

Onur Yazicigil: The lack of Latin typographic heritage and type design in Turkey

The word lack might have a negative connotation, I mean ‘need’ :)

Turkey once used Arabic, but ‘over night’ changed to Latin. This shift led to a lack of typograhic heritage.

Onur likes discourse about why type design didn’t become a concern in this region, and new attempts to do so.

The Turkish Republic spans 2 continents, the Ottoman empire controlled the land for 6 centuries. Turks were peasants in the Ottoman empire, and many groups were there. So there was a lot of writing systems. The Ottomans turkish language was written in arabic. Theres a great collection at the Ataturk … Archives in Istanbul.

Movable type didnt appear in the area until the 1720s. 300 years of delay!

In 1929 they adopted the Latin alphabet. Only 4% of the country was literate at the time. In 2 years, it was 48%. They were using the arabic script to write Turkish; there were many loan words, and these were replaced with french loan words, so there are now around 5,000 french words in turkish. Eg espas in turkish for letterspacing :)

Type terminology is pretty funky.

upper case and lower case became ‘big letter’ and ‘small letter’ but small caps is then ‘small big letter’ ;)

sans serif and serif became ‘nail’ and ‘no nail’

majuscule and miniscule fit better, so we can have ‘short majuscule’

Gorey was designing both latin and arabic. Emin Buran treated latin like kufi.

Onur showed his recent typeface project.

Proforma is one of his most respected serif types, but it had a small caps i dot problem. I submitted the fix and Petr really appreciate it :)

Finally, the IS Type event aims for future generations to explore and add to this heritage. – it finished 2 days ago and there’s another one next year – please contact Onur to attend! oyazicigil @

Thanks went to Type Together for helping with the IS TYpe goody bags, and Ross Mills of tiro typeworks, and david brezina for his poster.

Oh, one last thing, sometimes the remarks of ‘Turkish vs Icelandic’ about Latin-1 can be seen as antagonistic, and Onur thinks its important to stress that we are not enemies and to have a spirit of international collaboration. Awesome!

[Tom Milo has an awesome screensaver with 'atypi' in latin in the white space around arabic script writing icelandic things]

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