Romanée – New Release?



  • Oliver Linke
    ybaggar said:
    you market a contemporary typeface that draws inspiration from Romanée, but offers more…
    Agreed. The withdraw (at least in my eyes) is still, that JvK's work is not honored to the extend that I believe it deserves. It would be different if there would be a »Romanée« out there already.
    But as far as I can see, your suggestion is probably one of the ways that cause the least trouble.

  • One of the issues that has come up in this discussion is what, exactly, constitutes “original” work. A parallel to type revivals, especially those that render in digital form designs that originated in metal, is the translation of literature from one language to another. Translation is not a mechanical operation, but rather the exercise of highly cultivated judgment and feeling for languages, idioms, and cultures. It’s not for nothing that such work is protected by copyright in almost every country, giving it the legal status of original work even though it does not share the cultural status of the work that’s been translated. 

    But while the original work always remains the same, translations have to be reconsidered in each generation in order to accommodate cultural shifts and new idioms. There’s nothing disrespectful or dishonest or immoral about translations—or about type revivals—as long as the source of the original is duly credited. On the contrary, they are homages of the highest sincerity. Where this might get into trouble, though, is when the revival is in the same medium as the original inspiration, say, in a digital revival of a type created originally as a digital work. It would be difficult to call such a thing a “revival,” even if the new work has been created without any use of the first font's data. It would be as if one were translating recent book written in English into a new English-language version. Not impossible, just odd and uncomfortable. There have been a few occasions when I really liked a type design, but found the spacing so inadequate to my needs that I respaced the type from scratch, with new sidebearings and kerning. (These are for personal use only, not for sale.)

    @ybaggar seems to suggest that revivals have a second-class status. Perhaps that’s true in his world, but it is not in mine. Does that notion of “cultural progress” mean leaving behind masterworks of the past? Every day, virtually all of types we read are based on the work of the past, some as closely as possible, others less so. The reason for that, I suggest, is that type is a tool, not an art form, and that type design is a métier, not an art. Why change something if it works perfectly well? We do not reinvent letterforms because there is no need to do so, no more than a woodworker would have a need to reinvent the chisel. But that’s not to say there is no need to reinterpret and adapt work of the past to suit new requirements and environments—or for a type designer to give an old design a new spin, to reflect the visual culture of the moment.

    If you think I’m arguing this from both sides of my mouth, it is because I am. There’s no need to declare one approach or the other to be “right” or “wrong,” as both coexist to suit different tastes. That’s why type design continues. It’s a very subtle craft, especially because the design includes both the letterforms and the spaces between the letters. Everyone who looks at old types as they were impressed into paper will make different decisions about them. I think Romanée is a great design (Jan Tschichold thought so, too) and I’l like to see it available. From what I’ve seen of Holger’s work on it, he made good decisions, bringing it closer to the way it looks in print by taking impression into account. There’s no reason for him to hold it back from commercial release—and no reason he shouldn’t interpret it further in the future, making other fonts inspired by the design. Perhaps he can add a set of italic caps (the original does not have any), or a titling weight or a bold. Maybe they’ll work well, maybe not. But he—and we—won’t know until we see them.

  • Yªssin Bªggªr
    Yªssin Bªggªr Posts: 73
    edited December 2017
    @Scott-Martin Kosofsky While answering a specific situation, I indeed expressed my opinion on revivals in general, but I wasn't thinking too deeply about them as it wasn't the main subject, and I'm not super interested in defending it as I'm fine with people doing/using revivals and having divergent opinions. Especially when it's in the best interest of my business :)

    I think one question is: what is still a revival? At what point does a revival become a new take on something old? One might call revival what another might already call inspired by, modern take, or whatever else… Some typefaces are called revivals, and given the name of an old designer, only for marketing value.

    Would it be great that all masterpieces of type history also existed as faithful digital version for the culture? Sure, why not! But for me, these would be museum pieces. Although, if there is demand from clients for it, then it is a valid market for foundries.

    For me the issue is, both for the type designer and the graphic designer, what is the point of recreating/using a typeface that was initially conceived at a different time with a different society and world view?
    We don't live in renaissance, we are not humanists, so is it possible to create a faithful humanist typeface today, and more importantly, what is the point of using such a typeface in non-humanist books?

    I think, in most cases, when people choose a Garamond or a Baskerville, it is not because the ideas in their work reflect the ideas of these typefaces and their times, but because Garamonds are known as very pleasant long-read typefaces with a certain classic look (and the authority that comes with it), while Baskervilles express something else (more chic, sophisticated, british, or whatever), and that is how they want the work to be perceived.

    So, instead of attempting to pastiche history, is it not more interesting and relevant to infuse these ideas (readable, classicism, authoritative, chic, british,…) into new forms with ideas of our time? Obviously, often these forms will be inspired by old forms, but not only, and they should not be subject to old ideas ("this is not how a humanist/Garamond/Didot drew serifs/the letter e/… therefore you shall not do it").
    I think it is easy to revel in the beauty of masterpieces, but it is essential to question them. What are their flaws? What would make them better for today? What can I change?

    Still, I think Adobe Garamond is beautiful, and I prefere to read a book set in it, rather than many contemporary typefaces. So nothing is so clear cut in the end. And who cares anyway, you should do what brings you pleasure ;)

  • Kent Lew
    Kent Lew Posts: 908
    Naturally, all of this reminds me of the dialogue in Dwiggins’s fanciful account of the creation of Electra — his imaginary conversation with Kobodaishi, “Patron Saint of the lettering art”:
    He said: “The trouble with all you people is that you are always trying to reproduce Jenson’s letters, or John de Spira or some of those Venetian people. You are always going back three or four hundred years and trying to do over again what they did then. What’s the idea?”

        “Well” I said, “we think those types were pretty good—about the best that anybody ever made, and we’d like to make some like them.”

        “But why like them?” he said. “You don’t live in Venice in 1500. This is 1935. Why don’t you do what they did: take letter shapes and see if you can’t work them into something that stands for 1935? Why doll yourself up in Venetian fancy-dress costume and go dodging around in airplanes and automobiles dressed up that way?”
    (Having designed Electra, Dwiggins went on to continue also using Janson, Caslon, Baskerville, Bodoni, et al., types in his own book work, of course. ;-)
  • Hrant Հրանդ Փափազեան Papazian
    edited December 2017
    As much as I'd like to chime in –mostly to support @ybaggar 's stance– I have to point out that this is a superb topic... for its own thread. (But no fear of Off Topic flags from me... which I just noticed is gone!)
  • . . . and having designed Electra as something new, Dwiggins went on to design Caledonia, a study in typographic anonymity—quite a feat for a designer whose work was never anonymous. But Dwiggins knew that texts intended for long reading had their own sensibility, which had been honed over hundreds of years of acculturation. Attempts at disruption have never lasted long—as Jan Tschichold realized in mid-life.

    I wear a lot of hats in the making of books, but I think of myself chiefly as a typographer and a reader. The reader role always comes first, especially as I work on a lot of “difficult” texts, many involving multiple languages and scripts that have to achieve a certain balance in order to maintain their readability. The Aldine (Griffo) proportions, whether in serif faces or sans serif, are the ones I almost always return to, regardless of their style or period. They are the ones that are embedded in my personal culture. When I began, forty years ago, the underlying messages of style, as @ybaggar refers to, and certain historical allusions were very important to me, but I found myself abandoning that point of view as being an unnecessary (and unwanted) form of self-consciousness that was often more hindrance than help. Typography is about finding the prefect solution for a very specific circumstance. So, for example, there are types that I find perfect for setting in small sizes in narrow columns that I might dislike in other circumstances. I do a lot of careful mixing.

    @ybaggar: I think it is easy to revel in the beauty of masterpieces, but it is essential to question them. What are their flaws? What would make them better for today? What can I change?

    Whether it’s a new design or a revival, type doesn’t make itself. Obviously, we’re not working in the same medium, so there are entirely different considerations: impact printing versus non-impact printing, the appearance of type on screens, adapting size-specific designs to suit ranges of sizes. There is no single type that can do everything optimally—nor should there be. But beginning with a historical model—taking it at its word—is a respectable place to start. There will always be changes and it might turn into something quite different—and new. In the end, it's about reading, not some kind of period costume show.

  • Kent Lew
    Kent Lew Posts: 908
    Dwiggins went on to design Caledonia,
    (Not to mention Eldorado and Stuyvesant — two period-piece revivals if ever there were any. But that takes us far off topic . . . )
  • Jens Kutilek
    There is now also a call for discussion on the website of German design magazine Page.
  • Hrant Հրանդ Փափազեան Papazian
    edited December 2017
    I'm happy to see that some of my questions (as well as consequently the one by @Dan Reynolds that's been avoided here) are getting broader exposure (with Google translate seemingly doing an adequate job).
  • Jacques Le Bailly
    There is one issue that didn't come up until now. How does this revival look like ? I have seen some pictures recently. To be honest it is a nice design, but it is too far from original to be called a revival. So any name would work fine IMHO. You can always add a description of your process and tell where it does come from.

    Therefore I do not understand the whole discussion here. Or is it about the economical value of the name Romanée ?
  • Oliver Linke
    How does this revival look like ?
    There are a few details here:
    And some older Screenshots here: > Revival Project
    You are surely right: It is a new interpretation of the original design and whether one can call it »revival« or not is arguable.
    In terms of the name: There is most likely an economic value of the name (I wouldn't estimate this too high, though). But if I use a new name for it, I find it not fair to Jan van Krimpen. A new name also implies that the roots of the design are rather hidden. Don't you think so?

  • Oliver Linke
    Oliver Linke Posts: 5
    edited December 2017
    Has Holger asked his instructors from The Hague about this? After all, his revival was a student assignment there. I imagine that their answer could be helpful in how you all decided to come to your eventual conclusion.
    I believe, Paul van der Laan was the instructor in The Hague. Maybe he can add to the discussion here, answering Dan's question?<br>
  • Oliver Linke
    I could easily turn the question around and ask you if you think it would be fair to Jan van Krimpen's legacy to have this interpretation named after Romanée.
    good point ;-)

  • Artur Schmal
    Artur Schmal Posts: 74
    edited December 2017
    What I mean is that, the best way to respect Van Krimpen’s legacy might actually be to not convert his typefaces into new media. Does that mean that, eventually, his typefaces will be forgotten? Probably. But that might actually have been how he would have wanted it, all things being equal.
    My thoughts as well.

    Here's an attitude more in line with Van Krimpens spirit. When De Does was asked by the Eschedé firm to make a version of Romaneé for their new photocomposition system, he declined because it was his opinion that such adaptations were required that it would simply not be Romaneé anymore. Instead he went on to design this beast:

    (This iconic specimen was kindly sent to me by Peter Matthias Noordzij when I was a student at the same course where Mr. Königsdörfer made his Romaneé interpretation.)

  • What Dan Reynolds writes about about the likelihood of JvK’s desire for control might well be correct. But who cares? That salient fact is that van Krimpen (through Enschedé) published the work, making it available in metal to anyone who wished to purchase it, and in so doing gave up any ability to control its use. While he was alive, van Krimpen may well have seen his types used for printed work that he thought was excellent and for work he thought was atrocious, but by making his types available commercially, he relinquished all control over their use. This is no different from a composer who publishes a composition. Once published, all control is lost—except the right to collect royalties during the term of copyright. There have been legal cases in the U.S. in which artists have alleged “misuse” and “misrepresentation” that they believed was damaging to their reputation, but these are rare and exceedingly difficult to argue successfully. (Fame is a factor in these cases, which is inherently unfair.) For type design, which enjoys little protection, such a case would be impossible, at least in the U.S. (The successful legal case brought against the Israeli typefoundry Masterfont by the descendants of Henri Friedlaender, regarding the typeface Hadassah, was argued on considerations that are unique to Israeli law.)

    Why should the type designs of van Krimpen be afforded “moral" considerations that we wouldn’t think to extend to, say, Morris Fuller Benton or Giambattista Bodoni? Where do you suggest a line be drawn? I don’t think you can, at least not in a way that can be applied universally or fairly, without doing more harm than good—and potentially ruining an entire industry. What court is capable of making such decisions, which often involve details that only experts within the field are capable of seeing? And there’s another question: When does original work become part of our common heritage? Jan van Krimpen had his influences, too, such as the engraved letters of Mercator and Blaeu, who, in turn, were influenced by Arrighi, Palatino, at al. 
  • I think the name Romanée has little commercial value. Simply because type designers are pretty much the only ones who know what it is... and type designers don't buy type. :-/  The value the name does have here is in relinquishing it to TEFF, as a goodwill gesture, the only concession I've come to see as necessary. That would graciously leave the door open for TEFF to eventually publish their version under the name Romanée, hopefully satiating their belief of owning the design.

    Concerning the fidelity of Königsdörfer's version, I think it's quite close enough to class it as a revival; anything much closer might better be termed a facsimile. But certainly the looser the revival, the more reason to give it a new name. BTW, I wonder whether the most recent TEFF attempt at reviving Romanée was abandoned in fact because of a disagreement concerning fidelity...

    Would not calling it Romanée be disrespectful towards the original, or would using the name Romanée for something that's not a facsimile be more so? Good question. Significantly here, I do refer to Romanée and not JvK, who was simply one person – not the reason a typeface is made:
    Hrant’s message may be: “the opinions of the dead don’t matter, it is the culture of the living that matters.”
    Yes. We need to honor our living users –with typefaces that help them express their own lives– much more than honor one dead person. And this to me is the difference between Design and Art; between wanting to help others versus protecting one's own "ego property", sometimes by proxy via the dead. Even when JvK was alive, Romanée was something more than him, or at least different.
    Oliver Linke said:
    I believe, Paul van der Laan was the instructor in The Hague. Maybe he can add to the discussion here, answering Dan's question?
    That would be the right thing to do.
    Here's an attitude more in line with Van Krimpens spirit. When De Does was asked by the Eschedé firm to make a version of Romaneé ....
    Even if one is intent on honoring JvK, I don't think that's what De Does was doing. I think he simply had a –commendable– mistrust of revivalism, and made something new, as @ybaggar professes.

    Now, as much I myself prefer what De Does did, revivals are valued by some makers and some users, so there's no use trying to ban them. To paraphrase Voltaire: I might disagree with reviving Romanée, but I will defend people's ability to do so.
    Jan van Krimpen had his influences, too
    It's a knotted, gnarled, living tree, where we must all live together.


    BTW an insightful twist to consider here is the hypothetical adding of Greek to Romanée. JvK made terrible Greeks... that he nonetheless believed in. Should we honor JvK by making a Greek like he would have, or should we honor actual Greek people by making something culturally dignified?
  • Hrant Հրանդ Փափազեան Papazian
    edited December 2017
    TEFF to eventually publish their version
    Ah, found just the name for that: Romanée du Roi.
    (TypeDrawers is gonna have to add a Dad Joke flag...)
  • Yªssin Bªggªr
    Yªssin Bªggªr Posts: 73
    edited December 2017
    Hey, debate still ragin', yay!

    I generally agree with Scott-Martin and Hrant's last posts.

    "oooo, my design is so perfectly perfect, do not dare reviving it for another medium."
    Should the most egotistical, pedantic or possessive tendencies of type designers be rewarded? Certainly not!

    Type design is a business, and naming is marketing. There are enough cases out there of typefaces drawing strong inspiration from former designs while using other names. There have been a few Antique Olive inspired designs this year that bear new names and I haven't seen any complaints. I believe even a close revival can bear a new name if the presentation text makes clear mention of the source. This is where history and lineage should absolutely be preserved and can be done properly, with context and clear explanations.
    After all, there are "Garamonds" that are not even Garamont's! Let's not be too pedantic. The desire to survive through our work is just some ego and fear of death bullshit. We could all draw terribly ugly serif typefaces and call them "Romanée but Better", "Romanée done Right" and "Romanée sucks", it won't affect JvK's rest. That's a pretty cool thing about death.

    I believe it's not all about the law, and more about doing the right thing.
    But it seems teff is not interested/willing to defend their position in light of "the fair thing to do" towards them. Only in light of the law ("We own the rights."). So, if a lawyer thinks they are wrong in light of the law, case's basically closed: do your thing.
    I wouldn't sweat about what is the fair thing to do, since they were not willing to discuss  and defend that. Then it becomes a purely legal matter, it's up to them to chase you in court if they believe they can win.
    And if you want to avoid this at all costs, it would be smarter to use another name.

    Finally, as a former TypeMedia student, I want to add my thought regarding the "student assignment" and "what does the instructor think about it".
    I can say that during the design of my revival in Paul's class, issues of rights or ability to release the typeface were never discussed.
    With all the respect and gratefulness I have for the tm teachers, what they have shared with me, and what TypeMedia has brought to me, I wouldn't care much about what an instructor thinks about what I should be doing with outlines that were initially created under his tutorship.
    Unless there is a clear contract signed that says revivals/student projects are not to be released for commercial purposes, then the former student should be able to do pretty much what he wants with them.

    In today's world, studies and especially MA programs, are part of the professional career. While it is fun to learn for the sole purpose of acquiring knowlegde, we live in the real world. After their studies, most people have to find a way to feed their mouths in a not so easy business. The role of professional studies is also to help people do that.

  • ybaggar said:
    I wouldn't care much about what an instructor thinks about what I should be doing with outlines that were initially created under his tutorship.
    Not least since you are the customer. Like designers, teachers are essentially there to serve.