TED设计:Martina Flor:The secret language of letter design


Can you imagine what the word"TED" would have looked likeif it had existed during the Roman Empire?I think maybe something like this.An artisan would have spent daysin the sun chiseling it into stone.And in the Middle Ages?A monk, locked in his room,would write T-E-D with his pen.And without going so far back in time,how would these lettershave looked in the 80s?They would have hadelectric, strange colors,just like our hairstyles.


If this event were about children,I would draw the letters like this,as if they were building blocks,in vivid colors.And if it were about superheroes instead?I would do them like this,inspired by — in my opinion —the greatest of all:Superman.


The shapes of these letters talk.They tell us thingsbeyond what they represent.They send us to different eras,they convey values,they tell us stories.

If we think about it,our days are full of letters.We see them on the front of the bus,on the bakery's facade,on the keyboard we write on,on our cell phones —everywhere.Since the beginning of history,people have felt the needto give language an image.And rightly so,because language is the most importantcommunication tool we have.Without understanding what a word means,we can see certain things it conveys.Some letters tell usthat something is modern —at least it was back in the 70s.Others verify the importanceand monumentality of a place,and they do so in uppercase.There are letters not made to last long —and neither is the opportunitythey communicate.And there are letters madeby inexperienced handsthat, whether they mean to or not,make us imaginewhat a place looks like inside.

When I moved to Berlin,I experienced firsthandall the impact that drawn letterscan have in our day-to-day life.I arrived in a new city, which wasexciting and novel for me.Now, dealing with an unfamiliar languagewas at times very frustratingand uncomfortable.I found myself several times at partiesclutching my glass of wine,without understanding a single wordof what was being said around me.And of course, I'd smileas if I understood everything.I felt limited in my abilityto say what I thought,what I felt,what I believed.Not only did I not understandthe conversations,but the streets were full of signsand text that I couldn't read.

But the shapes of the lettersgave me clues;they would open up a little windowto understanding the storiesenclosed in those shapes.I recognized placeswhere tradition was important.

[Bakery Pastries Café Restaurant]

Or I'd know when someonewas trying to give me a signal,and my gut would tell meit was better to stay away.

[No trespassing!]

I could also tell when somethingwas made to last forever.The shapes of letters helped meunderstand my surroundings betterand navigate the city.

I was in Paris recently,and something similar happened to me.After a few days in the city,I was on the lookout for somethingtasty to take back home.So I walked and walked and walkeduntil I found the perfect bakery.The sign said it all.


I see it, and even today,I imagine the master bakerdedicating the same amount of timeto each loaf of breadthat the craftsman dedicatedto each letter of this word.I can see the bread,with just the right ingredients,being kneaded softly and carefully,in the same way the craftsmandrew the ends of the letterswith smooth and precise curves.I see the master baker placingthe buns over a thin layer of flourso the bottoms don't burn.I think of the craftsman puttingthe mosaics in the oven one by one,being careful to not let the ink run.The love for detailthat the master baker hasis reflected in the attentionthat went into creating this sign.Without having tried their bread,we already imagine it tastes good.And I can vouch for it; it was delicious.

I'm a letterer; that's my job —to draw letters.Just like when you make bread,it requires care in its preparation,just the right amount of ingredientsand love for the details.Our alphabet is at the same timemy raw material and my limitation.The basic structure of the lettersis for me a playing field,where the only rule is that the reader,at the end of the road,will be able to read the message.Let me show you how I work,how I "knead my bread."

A while back, I was commissionedto design the cover of a classic book,"Alice in Wonderland."Alice falls in a burrowand begins an absurd journeythrough a world of fantasy, remember?In this situation, the title of the storyis my raw material.At first glance, there are elementsthat are not very important,and I can decide to make them smaller.For example, I'll write "in"on a smaller scale.Then I'll try some other ideas.What if, to communicatethe idea of "wonder,"I used my best handwriting,with lots of curleycues here and there?Or what if I focused more on the factthat the book is a classicand used more conventional lettering,making everything looka little more stiff and serious,like in an encyclopedia or old books?Or how would it look, consideringthis book has so much gibberish,if I combined both universesin a single arrangement:rigid letters and smooth lettersliving together in the same composition.I like this idea,and I'll work on it in detail.

I use another sheet of paperto work more comfortably.I mark some guidelines,delimiting the frameworkwhere the words will be.There, I can start givingform to each letter.I work carefully.I dedicate time to each letterwithout losing sight of the whole.I draw the endsof the letters methodically.Are they square or round?Are they pointy or plump and smooth?I always make several sketches,where I'll try different ideasor change elements.And there comes a point whenthe drawing turns into precise forms,with colors, volumesand decorative elements.Alice, the celebrity here,is placed at the frontwith volume in her letters.Lots of points and linesplaying in the backgroundhelp me convey that in this story,lots of things happen.And it helps to representthe feeling it generates,as if you had your head in the clouds.And of course, there's Alice,looking at her wonderland.

Drawing the letters of this title,I recreate the text's atmosphere a little.I let the reader see the storythrough a peephole in the door.To do that, I gave shapeto concepts and ideasthat already exist in our imagination:the idea of dreams,of chaos,the concept of wonder.The typography and the shape of letterswork a bit like gesturesand tone of voice.It's not the same to say,(In a flat tone of voice)"TEDxRíodelaPlata's audience is huge,"As It Is to say (In an animated voice),"TEDxRíodelaPlata's audience is huge!"Gestures and tone are part of the message.By giving shape to the letters,I can decide more preciselywhat I mean to say and how,beyond the literal text.

I can say my favorite swear wordin a very flowery wayand be really cornywhen I talk about love.I can talk loudly and in a grandiose wayor in a soft and poetic voice.And I can communicate the differencebetween Buenos Airesand Berlin,two cities I know very well.

It was precisely in Berlinwhere my work became more colorful,more expressive,more precise at telling stories.Everything I couldn't sayat those parties,standing there holding my glass of wine,exploded in shapes and colors on paper.Without my realizing it,this limitation that language hasbecame an enginethat propelled me to perfect the toolswith which I could express myself.If I couldn't say it by speaking,this was my way of talkingand telling things to the world.

Since then, my big questhas been to find my own voiceand to tell stories with the exacttone and gesture I want.No more, no less.That's why I combine colors,texturesand of course, letters,which are the heart.And that's why I always want them to haveshapes that are truly beautifuland exquisite.Telling stories by drawing letters —that's my job.And with that I look fora reaction in the reader,to wake them up somehow,to make them dream,make them feel moved.

I believe thatif the message is important,it requires work and craftsmanship.And if the reader is important,they deserve beauty and fantasy as well.


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