August 15, 2019 0

Typographically Speaking with CCNY’s Ina Saltz

Typographically Speaking with CCNY’s Ina Saltz


[City noise] Hi, I’m Ina Saltz. I’m a professor of Art
and specifically I work in the digital design area of the Art department, and
even more specifically my area of expertise is typography. I remember as
early as second grade looking at the letters above the teacher on the
blackboard and being fascinated by the shapes of the letters. And I always loved
to read, and I loved to write, and my interest in letter forms seemed to be the
perfect blending of reading and writing, and the beauty of the letter forms
themselves. Of course, every project that I do, my own design projects, are totally
about typography. This is a Japanese lantern. This is all done with Bodoni Extra Bold, in case you’re interested. And of course my latest, my typographic
skateboard, and on the back it says, “Professor Saltz made this cool
typographic skateboard,” [laughter] in case the students don’t realize that Professor
Saltz is cool. [laughter] It led to tattoos because I saw someone on a crosstown bus with a
very significant typographic tattoo: the word “happy” in Helvetica 120 point, which
was tightly kerned, and it struck me that this was a very unusual form of
tattooing, and that’s what started the whole thing. And that evolved into my
first and second volumes of “Body Type,” and I’ve now photographed over 900
people with typographic tattoos, and I’ve interviewed them about their tattoos–why
they got them, why they chose those particular typefaces to convey those
particular messages. The exhibit at the New York Historical Society is a
historical overview of tattooing in New York, and my work is in the final gallery,
which is the contemporary work. It’s really a thrill to be at the New York Historical Society. Who ever thought that typographic tattoos would find
a place there, but it’s a major part of the exhibition, I’m very proud of that,
and I love going to the museum and seeing people looking intently at my
work. The whole point of type, well done, the effective and appropriate use of
typographic forms, is to communicate, and that is everything from a billboard, to a
package, to signage, to branding, and it can have very serious consequences if
it’s not legible, or doesn’t communicate well. Type is very serious, a very serious matter,
but it can also be a very fun and beautiful and exciting. There are over
250,000 typefaces available digitally now. We have a vast array of choices, and
those choices can deeply influence how someone perceives a piece of information.
So, type is everywhere. Type is powerful. Type is important, and I tell my students
that it’s the most important class that they’re going to take here at City
College, because it’s going to be part of every project that they encounter as
designers, both in school and in the real world.

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