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photoWords That Move
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
Ruthann Godollei
Dean of Fine Arts, Macalester College

How do we choose type? Modern typography is comprised of a grab bag of styles, old and new, but not a dominant one. What matters is the purpose for which we use these varied type styles.

Godollei presented a slide show history of typography, including ornate illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century, an 1898 Art Nouveau poster, a 1912 Harley Davidson ad, some 1920s revolutionary poetry, a 1933 King Kong movie poster, optical art from 1962, 1990s fonts, and 2001 new calligraphy. For the complete list of artwork, click here.

A short discussion period followed the slide show. A question was asked about whether there are rules to be followed when choosing fonts. In the 90s, anti-aesthetics - in which the only rule was to break the traditional rules to make visuals more dynamic - was popular. However, for a serious message it is best to follow the rules of readability to help convey the basic message. This discussion led to Web sites and animated type. Godollei noted that designers are mining from the past and adapting this material for the Web. The placement of print on the computer screen to enhance readability was discussed. Godollei drew a comparison to the placement of text in newspapers and noted that the size of columns in newspapers has its history in the hand-setting of letters.

Godollei summarized by saying that no matter how carefully we choose typography, the resulting communication is in the eye of the beholder.

Ruthann Godollei teaches Printmaking, Advanced Printmaking (intaglio, relief, lithography, screenprint, handset type, computer/photo prints), 2-Dimensional Design, Women in Art, and Senior Seminar at Macalester College. She received an M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota. Her work has been included in juried national exhibits and she has been credited with almost single-handedly launching the art-car movement in the Twin Cities. More information on Ruthann Godollei.

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