Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Positive or Negative?

I was contemplating what to write about this week and which topic I would choose for my focus when I came across an article on Cyrus Highsmith’s book, Inside Paragraphs: typographic fundamentals. Highsmith focuses on creating and illustrating his own typography, and in this book, he discusses the paragraph and its functionality, perception, and reality on a page. He argues that it’s not about the book or the page but what’s inside and what makes both of those things have substantial content: the paragraph. In this paragraph are a number of symbols and words, but overall, it is the mass on the page and the part that holds the most meaning, the significance of each symbol, each word, together.

While all of this seems expected and like something you’ve already grasped before, Highsmith takes an interesting approach to his theory and perspective. He attempts to steer you away from viewing a paragraph as merely a positive space and more as a collection of negative spaces that relate to one another.

Those negative spaces are often ignored, but they create that balance with what is put on the page, that positive space. I started thinking back to my recent struggles with designing logos, typefaces, or even a simple poster, and how maybe the reason for that struggle was my preoccupation with the positive and neglect of the negative. After reading this article, I refreshed my perspective on things and have made some alterations.

Highsmith uses the form of a book to illustrate his views on the paragraph whether it’s contained in a space or spread across a page, it shows his perspective. He also uses his own typography to demonstrate the final product of this perspective and how it is applied. Overall, I thought this perspective and illustration of the paragraph was interesting and relevant to my own work.

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