Yearning for Design Kerning

Official printer for the Duke of Parma, Giambattista Bodoni (1740 – 1813) declared that well-designed type derived its beauty from four principles:

  • Uniformity of design
  • Sharpness and neatness
  • Good taste
  • And charm

In his Manuale tipografico, published posthumously in 1818, he distilled these principles into a comprehensive catalog of type and set the standard for printing the alphabet thereafter.Taschen.

Adoringly, to this day I try to live by those same basic principles in my art. I’m actually grinning ear to ear writing this.

A little under a decade ago I started my foray into graphic design. (My approach to photography and art was/is immersive, along the lines of The Arts and Humanities, with childlike curiosity peppered in.) In my second year of my first masters I started exploring more graphic design under my mentor Tina Bunce at BGSU, and with that, typography, and the physical display of information. Tina, not unlike my Father, is one of those talking to me in my head on shoots, these blog posts and anything layout based. In my studies with T guys like Paul Rand and Saul Bass became my heroes. We see their art and mastery on a daily basis and find it almost commonplace. If you haven’t done so, google image both these legends. Seriously. Now, fast forward to the early days of my studio here in NYC. Another great designer and friend Matthew Maslanka opens my mind to the magic that is Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Mind Blown.

What’s the point of all this background you ask? Just that, background. We often get wrapped up in the technique of imagery, of what constitutes great art. For me it’s the simple pleasure of charming design, of kerning, but used in a photo. Wrap your brain around that for a second. Use your tools/training and development and your own history to tell that message in your art, photograph, craft. Pedigree is great, but in the end, they’re buying/buying into your vision regardless of past. And in this day and age of influencers, social media and accessibility, anything is possible.

If you design it, they will come.