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Creative Inspirations: Kit Hinrichs, Graphic Designer
Illustration by John Hersey

Typography as art


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Creative Inspirations: Kit Hinrichs, Graphic Designer

with Kit Hinrichs

Video: Typography as art

(Music playing) Kit Hinrichs: As you can tell, typography is a very important thing for me. It's important for all designers, but I've kind of embraced it, as I oftentimes do with things and get really obsessive about some of this stuff. So when the opportunity came up for me to have a retrospective, I thought, "Well, why don't I actually put into practice what I've kind of believed for a long period of time in saying, 'Isn't there a way we can incorporate typography as art and literally make it the art for the poster.'" When you have a face like mine that is simple enough with a white beard and round glasses, it's pretty simple to kind of take that and synthesize that into very simple typographic forms.

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Creative Inspirations: Kit Hinrichs, Graphic Designer
1h 13m Appropriate for all Feb 26, 2010

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Kit Hinrichs is one of the most accomplished and respected graphic designers and illustrators of the last fifty years. A master of corporate communications and a consummate visual storyteller, he has been awarded the highest honor in his field: the AIGA Medal. Formerly a partner in the legendary design firm Pentagram, he is reinventing himself (again) with a new endeavor called Studio Hinrichs. In this Creative Inspirations documentary, Kit shares highlights of recent projects, his renowned collection of American flags and American flag memorabilia, as well as the irrefutable wisdom of one who has stayed at the top of his game for five decades.

Subjects:
Design Creative Inspirations Documentaries
Author:
Kit Hinrichs

Typography as art

(Music playing) Kit Hinrichs: As you can tell, typography is a very important thing for me. It's important for all designers, but I've kind of embraced it, as I oftentimes do with things and get really obsessive about some of this stuff. So when the opportunity came up for me to have a retrospective, I thought, "Well, why don't I actually put into practice what I've kind of believed for a long period of time in saying, 'Isn't there a way we can incorporate typography as art and literally make it the art for the poster.'" When you have a face like mine that is simple enough with a white beard and round glasses, it's pretty simple to kind of take that and synthesize that into very simple typographic forms.

And so as a consequence, when I was doing this poster, that whole thing was done that way and, literally, my biography is in the beard, and so that's a real biography and then these are all letter forms. The entire thing is made up of letter forms. So, it was just an interesting thing to do. It was inexpensive to produce, from that point of view, and distinctive, and has not only - yes, it has got some awards and all of those things, but it's something that I am just amazed about how iconic it is.

I mean people walk along, and they say, "Oh, that's you in that poster." I mean it's amazing how something as simple as this can do it. Between my face and typography, it seemed to be something that could actually work very well. One other things that I found changed when I came back from Europe was, because of some of the publications I'd seen, because of the use of typography in a way that just was not being used in United States at that time, to me opened up a whole other world of how typography can be an integrated part of how you tell a story.

It's not just in what the words are, but the scale of the words and the typeface that you choose and the emotional value that typography has. And that comes from just seeing it everywhere. And an example, although maybe an obvious example, is the way in which we understand money. Money, at least in the US, has a very distinctive typographic quality to it, in the way it's put together.

And so then when you use something like that, that even has a little bit of a sense of that, you get a financial edge to what it is that you are actually communicating. So understanding that there is type that is used in all kinds of things, from stop signs, to manhole covers, to sale signs, to money - all those things use typography as a way of communicating ideas about who they are, and what makes them special. When I was in high school, I had bought a little platen press, had four typefaces, and I used to set type for various organizations in school, made a few extra bucks doing it, and learned a little bit of a craft in doing that, and even though it was really very, very Mickey Mouse, in a way, it was something that gave me an exposure to something I hadn't been involved with before.

And so my awareness of typography was there in the idea of handset type and metal type and all of what you had to do to make words look good together, because of the way in which they were spaced or tracked at that time, the way they were kerning the type. All of those things were very real and tangible, and so my awareness was that was there. I was kind of ready and then here I'd get flooded with some great typography by some of the great designers of the world.

And as Tony and I began chatting and so on, I would sit there and go, "I don't know whether it's twelve on fourteen or twelve on sixteen, or whatever," and not that I didn't know what it was, but he would say, "No, with that size type and that measure, you should be using this particular leading." It wasn't as a something I learned. It was a something that he knew, and that's kind of led me through the rest of my career. Those kind of things were just amazing to me.

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