Type setting and hand lettering

Here's a look at one of Alfred Wainwright's pictorial walking guides. These spreads are from The Outlying Fells of Lakeland. What's amazing about these guides are that they are entirely hand rendered, yet at the same time they look like they have been carefully typeset. Fully justified columns of prose, careful consideration of caption text size, title text size and body text size, use of all caps, italics and indentation are all used to carefully create hierarchies of information in the book. At the same time seamlessly tying together treatment of the text and the images.

Here's another example of familiar forms of typesetting. Again hand rendered but imitating typesetting conventions so that we know that this is a letter as soon as you look at it.

The conventional layout of a letter is so recognisable we don't even need the words to identify it.



What was underlying the previous two posts was a discussion on the relationship that the reader-user has with the work. The point I think I was trying to get at was that the spectator is always an active participant in the work. Whether they play a physically active role in its creation, say changing something in it, finishing it off etc., or just a mentally active role, by bringing it into existance through their interpretation of it, they are never the less active in both instances.



"The creative act is not performed by the artist alone. The spectator brings the work into contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act."
Taken from a recording of Marcel Duchamp made in 1957 titled 'The Creative Act'

The spectators interpretation of the work is both enabled but also clouded by cultural references built up over their lifetime. That's why, with its dominance in the international bank of references, this is recognised as being a sign for Coca-cola

and in London this is recognised as being a sign for Costcutter. So while it's true and important that we all interpret things differently we also all interpret things very similarly.


The Author-Designer and the Reader-User

Umberto Eco:
“In a narrative text, the reader is forced to make choices all the time...the model reader of a story is not the empirical reader. The empirical reader is you, me, anyone when we read a text. Empirical readers can read in many ways, and there is no law that tells them how to read, because they often use the text as a container for their own passions, which may come from outside the text or which the text may arouse by chance...If you have ever happened to watch a comedy at a time of deep sadness, you will know that a funny movie is very difficult to enjoy at such a moment...if you happen to see the film again years later, you might not still be able to laugh.”

“Any narrative fiction is necessarily and fatally swift because, in building a world that comprises myriad events and characters, it cannot say everything about this world. It hints at and then asks the reader to fill in a whole series of gaps. Every text, after all, is a lazy machine asking the reader to do some of its work.”