Saturday, June 01, 2013

Typography and pottery

This will be a hilarious story, but first let me begin with an example from archaeology. Suppose you are digging and you find some shards of pottery. You look at them and decide to reconstruct the original object. So you go from shards to pot. That pot breaks after a while, it gets discarded and later on someone else finds some shards. He decides to clean them, and reconstruct the original object. Sound familiar? Yes, but be prepared for a surprise:

The shards get reconstructed into a piece of pottery. When a fragment of that pot is found later on, it gets reconstructed to an amphora. It is still pottery, but somewhat different.

I noticed something similar in typography. Yours truly, while digging, found a fragment of text that was made by graphic designer Fré Cohen. I decided to reconstruct those fragments into a font. In due course the font was used for the book Versteende Welvaart (Petrified Prosperity) dealing with architecture in the Dutch province of Groningen. A flyer was made, to invite people to the official introduction of the book. That flyer was found by a designer, and from those shards of the alphabet he decided to reconstruct the orginal font. In pictures, this boils down to:

Fré Cohen designed the word "VERSLAG", which I extended to a whole alphabet. Artist Frits Jonker saw a fragment "VERSTEENDE WELVAART" and extended that to a complete alphabet. You cannot imagine these things, they just happen. And I'm glad they do!

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