This talk took place on Saturday, June 18, 2016 in The Great Hall at The Cooper Union as part of Typographics.
It can be difficult to explore possibilities of typography when designers—and especially clients—assume certain things are given, when these variables are not hard limits, just conventions. I want to look at the background of certain defaults of our software, to get people to consider them in some context and think about them more critically.
System and software default fonts: Sticking with default type isn’t a neutral choice, but a choice that has already been made for you. A look at what really put Times New Roman, Courier, Helvetica, Arial, etc. into those default positions.
Type specs: Modern layout software often defaults to 12 point type, and the web usually defaults to 16 pixels, but why? And are those decisions relevant?
Page and viewport sizes: US vs. Metric paper sizing, and the plurality of screen dimensions—why do we tend to build from the outside in when the boundaries aren’t necessarily fixed?
Responsive screen design: Moving assumptions toward a system of variables. Is there any way to apply this to typography in print?
Dan Rhatigan worked as a designer and typographer for 15 years in Boston and New York before moving to England in 2006 for graduate school at the University of Reading. After receiving his MA in Typeface Design, he spent 7 seven years working with Monotype as researcher, type designer, and eventually Type Director. He now lives in New York City again, where he works as an independent type designer and consultant.