18 January 2007

Talking to a Scotsman about Serifs

In the course of my working day today I had a conversation with an old man about the typeface Joanna, designed by Eric Gill. We both agreed that the use of flat serifs on an otherwise classically-based font helped draw the eye along the page.

So there you go. Of course the thing about Eric Gill is that he used to regularly have sex with his children, which long after his death came as a bit of a surprise to the world considering a large portion of his work is religious in tone and he lived for much of his live in monastically styled artist's communities.

So does it affect his art and designs? Well, yes, because he had sex with his children. And no, cos they're some of the finest creative pieces of the twentieth century and art is art is art.

The biographer who uncovered all this in the 1980s writes a good article in the Guardian about it here, and as she comments, interest in him has actually increased since her book came out. The public love a bit of scandal.

But his influence was so widespread, and his sculptures and book illustrations so prolific, that it would be hard to get rid of them. Apart from the fact that his daughters grew up apparently well-adjusted, history is full of nasty shit that you can't escape. So I think it's all ok. And as you can see from one of his fantastically out-there wood engravings for the Song of Solomon below, sanctity and shagging were for him much the same thing. Genius is genius, even if it's not very nice.

1 comment:

thisismarcus said...

That's a hell of a carving.