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Mrs Eaves Just Ligatures (lower case)

Edit: Based on feedback from in-class critique, I’ve rotated the cropped composition. Let me know what you think in the comments.

I have had a great time exploring ligatures and I’m impressed by the detail that goes into really well formed characters. I’ve learned that anyone can just stick two letters, numbers, or marks together, but it takes care and skill to make them look good and work within the font. My hat’s off to type designers who do this for a living and do it well. As an example of some intriguing ligatures, check out this set of Mrs Eaves Just Ligatures. I particularly like the “gg” combination, for reasons that will become obvious. Although the letters are not connected, they clearly go together and add personality to the font.

I chose to work with Bauer Bodoni Roman after making thumbnails using three different fonts. My favorite combination is 4 and 7(third down on the right in the picture), but since the scope of the project only allows us to use letters, I went with a close runner up, “gg.”

Thumbnails of Bauer Bodoni (Click to view larger)

In combining the letters, I chose to merge the characters with as little white space as possible between them, making them look, as a couple of people mentioned, like they were hugging or dancing. Where the two loops of the “Gs” intersect, I smoothed out the crossover making the letters a cohesive whole and continuing the roundness characterized by the Bodoni font.

The second part of the project entailed expanding the ligature and creating a cropped composition — one that is balanced and formally resolved. I think my cropped composition flows well and is engaging, while retaining the inherent characteristics of Bodoni.

The compositions were then both transferred to 10” x 10” illustration boards and inked. The ligature is an 8” x 8” square with a white border and the cropped composition fills the 10” square.

gg Ligature (Click to view larger)

Ligature - Cropped Composition (Click to view larger)

Cropped composition rotated (Click for larger view)


For the next project in Typography 1, I have to create a ligature. All you clarinetists out there may be wondering why I don’t just go buy one, especially since the ones that come with clarinets are usually lousy and we all know a really good ligature can make the difference between a decent tone and a squeak. Those in medical fields may wonder why I’m dabbling in surgery or dentistry. I assure you, I am not.

While I was very familiar with the word, I’m amazed I hadn’t noticed until now that the same term is used in so many different fields, which led me to actually look up the word:

Ligature - as defined in Dictionary on Mac OS (Click for larger image.)

From the Latin ligat-, meaning bound, it’s perfectly understandable why two letters stuck together, hopefully in a pleasing manner, would be called a ligature.

I’ve found quite a variety of opinions about ligatures on the “intertubes,” from absolute love of the ligature to advocating against ever using it again. Design O’Blog loves ligatures, as evidenced by the glowing commentary of the examples posted, while Daniel Will-Harris has no love lost for them. A couple of his points are that ligatures are no longer necessary and, certainly in some cases, make the text harder to read.

According to Wikipedia, ligatures originally made transcribing easier (fewer characters to write) and later made typesetting easier (fewer characters to set). The other advantage was easier readability, especially for the character combinations fi, fl, ff, etc. Ligature use dropped off with the popularity of sans serif typefaces, as ligatures were no longer needed for readability.

I think ligatures still have validity in today’s design. For example, they show the difference between a well-designed book and one slapped together without thought to readability or aesthetics. As points out, decorative ligatures can “add elegance and individuality to a setting.” These ligatures are usually used in display type, as they would certainly make body copy harder to read. So, I’m excited by the prospect of creating a beautiful character of my own. I’ve chosen to use the typeface Bauer Bodoni Roman. Check back in a couple of days to see the fruits of my labors.

The simple pleasure of holding a sibling's ear

Simple pleasures arise in all aspects of our lives; the trick is to recognize and acknowledge them. I know when I’m feeling stressed or hurried it’s hard for me to realize I’m missing out on the small things that bring me joy. Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to recognize more than one in one day. Today was one such day.

Right now I’m having trouble concentrating on writing this post because I’m wanting to listen to my daughter read to my son and hear his excitement. That’s a rare simple pleasure I love to witness.

Creatively, I have a harder time finding simple pleasures. I always wonder what it would be like to have the urge to draw or sculpt or paint, etc. I agree with Chip Kidd, who said a blank canvas would eventually make him cry. Nothing intimidates me more than a blank page.

So, in thinking about creative simple pleasures I had to look closely at myself and really question why I was interested in design and enrolled in an art program. The answer was surprising to me, only because I hadn’t actually tried to quantify it before. I find simple pleasure in problem solving and am grateful that, so far, each of the assignments in my classes has come in the form of a problem statement. Understanding the parameters of a problem allows my mind to start finding a solution. (I think that goes along with the “packing gene” I inherited from my father. I can take a huge amount of stuff and pack it into a small space, with room to spare.)

Finding a solution in an unexpected place is another creative simple pleasure. I was working on my project today and thought I had a good solution. It was engaging, well balanced, and pleasing to the eye, however, it was going to take an awful lot of ink to complete. My instructor suggested I continue pushing the limits and see if I could find a solution that worked and would require less ink. I don’t think I’ll be using less ink, but I’m pleased that I followed her suggestion. The final solution I chose is better than the first and the flush of pleasure at realizing I have a stronger solution was well worth the effort.

Click for larger image

For this project we were given a printout of a word that had to be cut out of black contact paper and photographed in an environment, keeping in mind context and audience. My word was “love.”

I thought a lot about love and what it means – what we think of when we hear the word, how we express it, the people and things we love – and realized that it’s a difficult concept to define. There are many more meanings and gradations of meanings assigned to the word than show up in the dictionary. I decided to focus on familial love, specifically love of a parent for a child or children.

How do parents show their children they love them? Hugs and kisses are obvious demonstrations, although lacking in families that eschew physical affection. So, what is something that might be a more universal display of love? The things we do for our children certainly express our love for them. When we grow up and move out on our own, the everyday actions we took for granted are the ones we miss the most. To that end, I decided clean laundry was a perfect example for my context of love. It could be argued that laundry gets done not out of love for someone, but because it has to be done. My thoughts on the subject are if you go to get dressed and find clean underwear in your drawer that you didn’t wash and fold, somebody loves you, whether you recognize it or not.

I have placed the letters of the word love to show that a parent’s love is encompassing and expansive, ideally unconditional. The outside edges of the “L” and “E” are a little blurry showing love is not perfect.

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