Don’t try to be original, just try to be good

It was the great american graphic designer paul rand who first said: “Don’t try to be original, just try to be good”. And this advice is nowhere more valuable than in the discipline of typography.
These days any fool can knock up a half decent piece of design, given the wonderful menu driven, template based, digital design tools, we now have at our fingertips.
However, to produce something that is really “good”, you really need to understand the fundamental principles of typographic design.
This stuff isn’t subjective, it’s like music, there are some things that are right and some things that are just plain wrong. It’s like you need to learn classical before you can express yourself in free form jazz.
I came across two great introductions to this esoteric art recently.
The first is this neat little online game which teaches you the mysterious art of “kerning” (For complete novices, a top tip: vertical letters like an “I” followed by another “I” always need to be spaced apart whilst letters like an “O” followed by another “O” always need to be closer together).
The second is this handy reference chart that summarises some of the more important principles of the discipline.
And as the man says: don’t try to be original, just try to be good.
Because It’s only when you get to be good, that you have the ability to express your originality.

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