#144 Meet & Greet
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Meet & Greet & Skype & Zoom
This #144 Meet & Greet piece wThis #144 Meet & Greet piece was created way back in June 2019, just waiting for the perfect time & place for its debut. Then came the pandemic, & no one dare meet & greet, not in person, anyway. A lot of people learned how to Skype, Zoom & Facetime during the last couple years.
Meet & Greet & Greet & Meet
I was very busy during February and March of this year with two back-to-back projects, each for I was very busy during February & March of this year with two back-to-back projects, each for upcoming conventions. Business cards, websites, brochures, posters, banners, & giveaways — both projects with impossible deadlines. That was in between two other projects that I’ve been working on for several months.
Normally an AmperArt piece such as #144 Meet & Greet is on standby until I need something for a last-minute issue when I have no time to create something new. This is one of those times. I had to get back to those other project with deadlines just around the corner. But there couldn’t be a more appropriate theme than meet & greet, having just finished those two convention projects.
Concept & Design
I used to be a seminar junkie, and I’ve attended my share of design symposiums, printing conventions, and chamber mixers. So designing this one came easy. A little too easy, as the image on the left I used to be a seminar junkie, & I’ve attended my share of design symposiums, printing conventions, & chamber mixers. So designing this one came easy. A little too easy, as the image on the left demonstrates. After I completed it, ready to publish, I realized we could dress it up a little with a fine-tailored suit (not that I would wear anything like that, being the resident nudist — and you know I’m going to miss those Zoom meetings). So I redesigned the piece to be the final #144 Meet & Greet that you see on the right.
The typestyle is Trade Gothic, which along with Folio, were the forerunners in the 1950s & 60s of what would become the most popular & refined of the modern gothics, Helvetica. Back in mid-century 1900s typesetters still relied on whatever was available in their fonts* as there weren’t thousands of styles available by computer. As for the ampersand & words outside of the badge, I used something authentic: a good ol’ Sharpie marker, scanned into place.
*Font: what the term really means
The true definition of font is best comprehended if you can visualize drawers of individual metal type, where each drawer contained a single font. That would be the type family (Trade Gothic, for example — we’ll use the word “HELLO”), its weight (extra bold), its slant (roman, meaning not italic), & its modification in width (extended), & its point size (36 pt. would be a good guess for the name badge). That’s a lot of job cases (type drawers) for just one typestyle family. It’s simple enough to realize you’d have a separate case for each of these criteria:
bold italic condensed
light italic condensed
medium italic condensed
heavy italic condensed
black italic condensed
bold italic extended
light italic extended
medium italic extended
heavy italic extended
black italic extended
But wait, there’s more! Ten to twenty times more!
Remember, this was when type was cast in little metal pieces (or wood for larger sizes, usually reserved for posters & packaging). Take another look at the 36 styles above. Those are not yet fonts. Each single font contains one of those 36 styles (or more or less, depending on what the typesetter’s clients needs were) in several point sizes: 5, 6, 7, 8 (business cards & footnotes), 9, 10 (typical book text), 11, 12 (larger book or print ad text), 14, 16, 18, 21, 24 (subheads), 27, 30, 36, 42, 48, 60, 72 (titling, approx. 1 inch). Let’s multiply the various styles listed above by all these sizes. That’s 36 styles X 20 = 720 fonts for just one type family (such as Trade Gothic).
Add to that small caps, fractions, dingbats (symbols), & special characters for each style and size.
But wait, wait, wait! That’s just one type family — there’s LOTS MORE!
Those 720 fonts are for just one type family. A large typesetting shop might have 30 or more type families (here’s a sampling from mid-century, when agencies were in full swing with metal type): Trade Gothic, Futura, Garamond, Caslon, Bodoni, Cheltenham, Cooper, Hellenic, Craw Modern, Bembo, Clarendon, Walbum, Kabel, Copperplate Gothic, Tempo, Kaufman, Palace Script, Old English, & many more. This was when type design was truly professional, not the crap than anybody with a computer can churn out today.
Some on this list have only 2 to 6 variations, such as the scripts, & most typesetters wouldn’t have a complete family in all the sizes. So let’s take an average of 20 families & multiply that by a reasonable 12 styles & 16 sizes. You’re looking at 3,840 fonts (they came in little packages wrapped in paper inside a cardboard box) plus special characters & wood type for titling. That’s a lot of inventory — with a job case drawer for each font!
So when today’s designers use the word “font,” they’re only partially right about what it used to mean way back when. (Way back when is also when you’d hear lots of cursing when a completed galley of hand-set type “pied” — spilled onto the floor.) Today, “font” seems to refer to a typestyle, period, like “Helvetica.” But is still would be more accurate to spec out a “font” as Helvetic bold extended. Maybe even include the point size if you’re that familiar with the medium.
It’s amazing how simple typography has become today — that is, selecting “fonts” & not having to keep a physical inventory. But it still takes talent to choose the right typestyles, treatments, & sizes, not to mention a keen eye for proper kerning, tracking & leading. (Yes, more terms…for the pros.) Typography has always been my favorite type of art & design. My favorite type families are Microgramma & Craw Clarendon.
Production notes for #144 Meet & Greet:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Program: Adobe Photoshop
Font (text): Trade Gothic
Ampersand: hand-lettered (with a Sharpie, of course)
Note: “&” replaces “and” in most or all text, including quotations, headlines & titles.
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To download a full-size high-resolution 11x17-inch poster suitable for printing & framing, click on the image.
Chaz DeSimone is the creator of AmperArt and owner of Desimone Design. He was adding serifs to letters when he was just a little brat scribbling on walls. Now he’s a big brat and his entire career is design for clients who desire the most sophisticated, logical, captivating creative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project, pick his brain, or just talk shop.