By the 1990s, CD-ROMs and the Internet turned computer screens into the final display substrate. Those were the dark ages of on-screen typography. Designers traded in low-res compromise, bending to the will of fours, the tyranny of the pixel. Endless hours were spent on what my colleagues and I affectionately called “fat-bitting.” It was an activity hardly worth the effort. We were masons, chipping and shifting single pixels — fixing what the screen did to otherwise well intentioned letterforms. “I could be at the bar, but no… I have to fat-bit this shitty logo.”
But the clients loved the attention to detail. We took pride in pixel craft.
Fast forward to the present and Ellen Lupton’s latest book “Type on Screen” is a fascinating typographic inventory of the present. It shows us just how far we’ve come since fat-bitting. It sits alongside Lupton’s previous book “Thinking with Type” but over broadband and on a Retina display.
This book will teach you all manner of topics including type selection, web fonts, interface design, responsive design, and SVGs. There is an enlightening chapter on generative design with type and code which left me thinking about the future possibilities of type.
Reading about type in this context is inspiring. For those of us who have lived through the evolution of the craft, Type On Screen is an epic hair-metal ballad — a celebration of living squarely in the age of enlightenment of on-screen typography.
Reviewed by Theo Rosendorf.
Type on Screen was authored by graduate students and faculty of MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and edited by Ellen Lupton. It’s available in paperback with an ebook and PDF coming soon. See the Type on Screen website for more info. Buy Type on Screen from Amazon.