Typography is the manipulation and strategic use of stylistic lettering to convey ideas and aesthetics. In short, it is the science and art of forming words. Size, basic letterform, color, glyphs, and letter accents are all a part of typography. So too is the condensation, extension, and juxtaposition of lettering. As calligraphy gave personality to handwriting, typography emerged as way to give distinction to metal type. Today, it includes not just metal type from printing machines but also digital fonts created by computer software. A typed word may just look like a series of letters to laypeople, but to typographers they are crafty blends of baselines, stems, counters, descenders, serifs and ascenders. These terms describe how the lines and spaces that form letters are artfully used to decide how big or small, cramped or spacey, bold or tame lettering appears. Koi Typography is not a robotic process, even if it’s done by computerized printing systems. With the millions of lettering styles and combinations possible, typography involves choice, imagination and creativity. New fonts and clever ways of using letters are created daily, making typography an ever-changing art.
Credit the first printing press and its creator Johann Gutenberg for establishing the practice of typography in 1450, with distinctive 15th century letter strokes and classical typeface. The classical era of typography ended in the early 1700s as a typeface called “old style” came into vogue. However, by the mid-1700s the transitional era of typography was established, with an Englishman named John Baskerville popularizing what came to be known as “transitional typeface” — a highly elegant and sophisticated letterform. Most modern word processing software pay homage to Baskerville by offering a Baskerville font selection.
Most of the 1800s was distinguished by the modern era of typography, with was characterized by a variety of serif and sans serif typeface styles. The invention of lithography during this era made these styles flourish. The modern era of typography, propelled by the futurist art movement, stretches from the late 1800s to roughly 1961, when the present and contemporary age of typography began. All eras of typography continue to influence modern-day designers who often combine styles in free form.
Due to its ability to persuade, trigger emotion and subliminally transmit ideas, typography is often used for display and advertising. The ability to transform letters through special types allows advertising to be customized for different audiences and purposes. Not only can manufacturers seduce customers to buy products by providing pleasing type in an appealing color, but they can also align themselves to social causes through the arrangement of type. Companies can merge type with or superimpose type over universal socio-cultural symbols, such as peace signs, snakes, doves or other icons. Often, letters are cleverly morphed to mimic those icons for special marketing impact.