“For many thousands of years every book that was produced had to be written by a scribe. Then, at last, someone thought of using type, and so changed the world.”
- The Wonderland of Knowledge
I like to brag about being able to write a good article on any subject. With the internet offering up seemingly endless amounts of information my greedy fingertips, it’s possible, if not easy, to become an expert on almost any subject. I begin with Wikipedia to give myself a general sense of the lingo I’m working with, then spider out from there, consulting technical how-to articles and blogs chronicling personal experience alike to develop an all-round picture.
But sometimes my problem isn’t sounding like an expert, it’s finding something fresh to write about on a subject I’ve exhausted. Researching my next post is often half the battle. And I’ve learned that I can’t put a time restriction on it. Sometimes, I get up in the morning with an idea in my head. Sometimes, an idea comes to me looking at the day’s news. Sometimes, I spend six or seven (largely un-billable) hours staring at the internet until it makes me want to vomit.
But eventually, inevitably, an idea does come.
Last night, it came in the unusual form of a blog post on the subject of type. I write a lot about printing and graphic design, but above braggadocio aside, I have to admit that I cannot wrap my head around typography. The delicate whirl of serifs, the unfathomable science of kerning, the simultaneously obvious and invisible distinctions that make Verdana good and Comic Sans baad…what does it all mean?
Typography doesn’t seem to be one of those things I can learn through research, or even through working with graphic designers who shake their heads at me in disgust when I attempt to choose a font for my own writing.
So although I write about print and advertising, design and copywriting, I stay me away from typography. And it hurts, both my repertoire, and my pride. It hurts like being ignored by that boy in school, no matter how much you bat your lashes at him.
Which is perhaps why I was so delighted to find an excellent blog called The Ministry of Type, that has just done a post on The Romance of Printing, an entry in an old encyclopedia called The Wonderland of Knowledge.
So why is printing romantic?
Because it gave the written word to everyone.
Because it was carved out of wood, and stone, and done using lovely pale paper and luscious midnight-dark inks.
Because The Wonderland of Knowledge tells us things like, “lead…one of the heaviest of metals, came to serve as wings for words and thoughts, and for the spread of knowledge.”
On Hotcards.com, I reviewed The Ministry of Typography blog, I talked about the romance of print in modern life, I shared some of my favorite quotes from the encyclopedia entry, and finished on a question, asking readers if they still think of printing as an art.
And there you have it. An article about typography. Maybe my high school English teacher would take away marks for being too liberal with my definition of the subject matter, but for me the important thing was engaging with the subject at all. Or maybe, I should say, flirting with the subject.
I felt stuck, and I found inspiration. I was nervous, but I found the opportunity to connect. I was ignorant, and now, maybe, I’m just the tiniest bit more knowledgeable.
And that’s what writing a good article is all about – searching, finding, and sharing. Sometimes it can seem impossible, but if it can happen for me and typography, it can happen to anyone at anytime.