I was doing research in historic type designers and I created a folder system on my computer where I have every type designer categorized with information on when the person lived and from what country they are, and the folders in turn are filled with pictures of their work. This is not only to satisfy my obsessive need to collect and categorize but also to get more insight into the history of typefaces; who might have inspired who?
During my research I landed on a few names I had never seen before. One of the names that piqued my interest was François Guyot. I can't find a lot of information, but I saw one of his specimen sheets and read about the typeface Tribute
by Emigre, which is based on Guyot's works. I read John Downer's criticism on the typeface, and before I get to the main reason why I'm posting this I want to ask something about that. Why is Tribute such a bad typeface? I fully understand Downer's criticism within the context of a revival though. Perhaps it was a really bad choice to call this typeface Tribute, but my interpretation was that Tribute is a tribute to the unusual shapes of Guyot's work and not a strict revival. It seems letter forms have been exaggerated in Tribute, such as the /g with the small top counter and the huge loop, the double-serif N (a feature I see in the pica M while the canon M only has a serif on the left side just like in Tribute), the unusual serifs in T, the condensed A with the flat apex and the condensed U. One point of criticism on Tribute was the Q which has the tail emanating from the inside, similar to the Q in Century. Historically that seems to be a ludicrous idea, but then again, I don't see Tribute as a typeface that wants to be historically correct. It doesn't seem to have to pretend to do that.
I guess you could call Tribute somewhat of a monstrosity, but that's why I like it. It's unconventional but not bad, and I feel deviations like the Q were very conscious decisions rather than coming from ignorance or a historical misunderstand. With the dark color and simplified forms (the straight tail in /y and the lack of proper terminals in letters like /c and /s) I don't know exactly where this comes from or if it's a justified association, but it makes me think of 20th century German design. I think it would be a very nice typeface to see in letterpress. What do others think of Tribute and how it relates to Guyot's work?
Here's a quote on the typeface:
He has challenged many traditional assumptions that we ‘connoisseurs’ of hand-cut type have maintained in our attitude toward the historical accuracy sought and loved and expected in ‘revivals.’ The result is a unique combination of caricature, homage, alchemy, and fanciful reinterpretation. Tribute, I think, recalls Guyot’s native French-learned style, primarily as a point of departure for an original — albeit implausible — work of historical fiction, with merits and faults of its own.
Also, I read that Fred Nader made a typeface based on Guyot's work called Day Roman. I suppose this could be considered a revival whereas Tribute is as the name suggests, a tribute. I had a look at Day Roman and I like the design, but I guess that's Guyot. If I would have made a revival of this typeface, it would be a lot more refined. I like how Day Roman stays true to the original (as far as I can judge from the small pictures I've seen of the original) but Tribute is a lot more refined. I guess the point was to keep the warmth of the prints by Guyot though. I like Guyot's work a lot from what I've seen, so perhaps I will let myself get inspired by it sometime in the future. Does anyone have higher resolution pictures, or has anyone been inspired by Guyot? I find it somewhat surprising to not see Guyot characteristics in more typefaces, or am I just overlooking them?
This finally brings me to why I actually wanted to post about Guyot's work. I read the following quote:
Also interesting is Frank Blokland's use of the Guyot italic. This of course was suggested by van Krimpen, who at the end of his career asked himself whether his approach to italics was not entirely incorrect, and whether he might not have been better following the models of Guyot, had he only been familiar with them when he was young.
So now I'm wondering if anyone (hopefully Frank himself as well) could offer more insight into this issue. What's this use of the Guyot italic and how may van Krimpen's approach to italics be perceived to be entirely incorrect? Do other type designers have insight into this issue or is it one of those obscurities that is being forgotten?