Calligraphy and Font

Calligraphy is an art. I’ve always loved to see how words look on a page. As a kid, I’d write, “My name is Jeff,” and change out the font a hundred times over on a Tandy computer. Font Size. Italics. Big and Bold. Plain old courier never looked quite right to me. Still, it does have it’s place. Each font does, in a sense. And if you pair the correct fonts together; magic can happen on a page. If you’re a true cook, you understand where I’m coming from. You wouldn’t think coriander goes with honey, yet it does. Want proof? I have references to back it up. See the book of Exodus. Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years for a reason. Manna has that certain taste that sticks with you. Try a teaspoon of honey with a dash (maybe two or three) of the spice, mix the two together, and the heavens will smile down upon you.

In the rise of personal computing, Steve Jobs felt calligraphy set the original Mac apart. If you haven’t seen his commencement address, it’s worth five minutes of your time. It’s considered by many to be one of the best commencement speeches ever delivered. Sometimes we forget why computers became popular. They solved problems, payroll and printing costs.

In a tribute to yesteryear, I’m going to paint my own font. It’s on my high ideals list of things to do. I keep one. Yes, this is a long list. The latest tally has 415 projects. This one is special, and I’ve already planned out my approach. Using a canvas, I’m going to delicately paint each perfect letter on the keyboard. Did you know seven eight nine? I’d do the plus and minus too. Photograph each and every line with care. Upload to the computer. Save it in the TIFF format. Then, off I go. Of course, I have to figure out the perfect spacing. Width. Optical size. Slope. Variants. To make the project perfect, I’d have to make two type sets. It takes two to tango. So, one clean font for headers and footers and another for the paragraph body. The scope of this project keeps growing. It’s almost too exhaustive to think about.

I’m not sure how graphic designers deal with the stress. They obsess over fonts. There is an art to marrying the perfect couple. If you are in need, try the following guide. Pinterest is a good source for pairings too. Along with this blog about typesetting. Yes, there is a full blog on typesetting. Cherish and support it.

Until I create my own perfect font one day (Bradley, that’s what I’m going to call it), there are more than a few alternatives. Each operating system (Windows and Mac) has a slew of choices. We all know this. Courier. Times New Roman. Arial. Helvetica. All the proper ones are easy to find. Sadly, most don’t know you can add more. There is a folder in each operating system (so) that contains the files for the fonts. You can find the folder and add as needed. Most applications leverage this.

Recently, I was working on a web project and needed font XYZ. Of course, it wasn’t in the standard MAC or Windows OS. Jobs was maniacal about calligraphy but he missed this one. After a quick internet search this font was part of the Google library of fonts. This is an interactive directory of free hosted application programming interfaces for web fonts. It was launched in 2010 and revamped in 2011. Many popular web platforms leverage the directory, WordPress included. Give Google credit. This is helpful.

Now, you can download the font of choice from Google, stick it inside your computer’s directory (directions here) or just use an application called SkyFonts to manage. It’s a free application that lets you subscribe to fonts and receive updates automatically. It worked like a champ and helped me grown my font library ten fold. And it solved my problem. What if you don’t have a font problem? Well, if you really want to stand out try changing the default in your email settings. Instead of Helvetica, give Avenir or Fortuna a spin. Stand out. Be cool. Give it a try. As always, thanks for reading.


Check on Google’s open source font selection.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. I don’t know why but I think it’s a cool sentence.

Check out SkyFonts. I set it up to link to the Google Fonts, which are free. You can also setup accounts to download pay version of fonts.

The TypeWolf Blog (Yes, there is a blog for everything) has a couple of good articles on the Best Fonts of 2015 and a curated list of the best Google Fonts.

Steve Jobs Commencement Address.

List of 10 Web Font Combinations.

And what is the picture? It’s Joshua Tree National Park, the coolest desert I could come up with.