The Writing on the Wall

Writing, whether by hand or by typeface, can appear on works of Art. Like every other aspect of the art work the style of the writing is far from accidental. The typography is often carefully chosen to convey certain meanings and preclude others. When writing about art, knowing something about this can bring another layer of interpretation to your essay or dissertation. The description of the style of typeface, as well as the effect/s is an area of your writing that is important to develop.

Serif, sans serif

The first thing there is to say about fonts is that they are divided into two broad categories: serif being the small lines or strokes attached to the end of larger strokes; and sans serif being fonts where the letterform does not have those extending strokes. That’s the simple description, but then there is the effect. Serif fonts can portray ideas of tradition, sophistication and formality, as opposed to sans serif fonts which convey ideas of simplicity, modernity and minimalism.

Notice the very bold, black, capitalised sans serif typeface used by Wyndham Lewis in the title of his literary magazine BLAST. The font is a forerunner of the bombastic views the reader can expect to discover behind the covers – as bold and shocking as the typeface and magenta pink background.

Contrast this with a serif font often used in Pre-Raphaelite work: when I drew this it transported me back to wistful imaginings of Robin Hood and his merry men!

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