Join Ina Saltz for an in-depth discussion in this video Breaking the rules, part of Foundations of Typography.
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Perhaps at this point you're thinking that typography has so many rules and standardized practices and principles. Well, you're right, but any body of knowledge has its rules. If you were learning to play the piano, you would first have to learn to read the musical notation. Then you would have to practice at a very basic level, playing scales over and over again until they were exactly right. Eventually, you might learn to play a complex piece of music, and you'd have to work to hit every note until the piece was perfect.
Then and only then would you know enough to begin to interpret that piece of music by allowing it to become more expressive, seen through the prism of your own experience. Like any other field, typography has its conventions and rules. You must know and learn to follow those rules. Yet, some of the most wonderful and effective designs completely violate those rules. One of my teachers Donald Jackson put it this way, all rules can be broken in divinely successful ways.
You can learn from those who have successfully broken the rules, but it does no good to try to copy them. Understand that the reason they have been able to break the rules successfully is that they know the rules inside and out. So my advice to you is learn the rules, but keep your eyes open for examples of wonderful designs that have successfully broken those rules. Look at them critically to understand why they have been able to make that leap. And when you are ready, don't be afraid to be daring. Remember, it's not brain surgery, and there is rarely only one solution to a design problem, so be bold.
- What is typography?
- Differentiating type characteristics
- Using ornamental and decorative type
- Combining typefaces
- Using contrast and scale
- Kerning and kerning pairs
- Choosing the optimum line length
- Aligning and spacing characters, words, and paragraphs
- Understanding factors affecting legibility
- Working with three-dimensional type
- Putting type in motion