Heroes: Robert, Ellen, & Jason

Names of typgography heros spelled with scrabble pieces


Robert is , the author of The Elements of Typographic Style. This was the first graphic design book that I fell in love with. Set in the typefaces Minion Pro and Syntax, the layout of this book is so elegantly considered that I find myself turning each page with extreme care. Something I don’t do with most books. While reading his book I learned to respect and really look closely at the forms that make up a letter, each letter’s relationship to its neighbor, and their form on a page. It got me rethinking who I was and what I wanted to do. I had already been working for 8 years as a graphic designer, but had not let go of the idea that I was really a painter, and graphic design was my day job. Becoming a graphic designer in spirit has been a slow process. But I can pinpoint where it began—with his book.

Ellen is . She has written a number of books on design. The only one I have read, so far, is Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors & Students. Where Bringhurst’s book is scholarly and at times hard to read, reading Ellen Lupton’s book can be like having an intense late-night conversation with your best friend. She’s funny, patient, and breaks down designing with type into graspable chunks. Reading this book sent me to back to graduate school. I don’t read the Introduction to a book until I have finished it, and then only if really love it. If I really, really love a book, I read the Acknowledgements. That’s where I discovered she’d gone to graduate school at the University of Baltimore (for her doctorate). The very next day I was on the web looking up UB. This month, I start their MFA program in Integrated Design. You can blame it on Ellen.

Jason is , a graphic designer, typographer, and web innovator. I’ve followed web sites such as A List Apart (creative director) and (founder), without knowing about him. I discovered his site, JasonSantaMaria.com, only a month ago when I was preparing for my Publication Design students their first critique. I was lucky enough to find a brilliant and thoughtful article he wrote back in 2006 on critique etiquette. I have not found anything else that explains how to participate in a critique as well as this does. I plan to make it required reading every time I have a new batch of students. Since he has a very active blog, his writing is both more prolific and more informal. I haven’t even BEGUN to read through his current and past articles, but I’m looking forward to trying. Sorry, Jason, but you are my inspiration for starting this website.

Until I wrote this, I had not figured out what these three people have in common. They all combine typography, graphic design, teaching, and writing. By paying tribute to them and I am not trying to equate myself with them in any way. I am a late bloomer. I am striving to embrace graphic design and typography. And my purpose is to examine what is around me, nothing more.


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  • Gilbert June 2, 2010  

    I have Tufte’s Envisioning Information. You’re right, they are very beautiful. I’ll be sure to visit frequently. This site is great for inspiration and to get some practical tips, or types.

  • Gilbert June 2, 2010  

    I love the use of the scrabble pieces in your photograph.

    Your descriptions of these books are beautiful done and plants a seed of curiosity within me to explore. I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a book the same again.

    Good luck with the blog.

    • Morgan June 2, 2010  

      Did you ever see Tufte’s books on information graphics? The paper and the quality of the typography are part of the fun of reading those books. I hope to have a new post up by the middle of next week. So check out my site again next week. Thanks for visiting.