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The medium is the massage

2015-05-23 13.46.42


TypoBerlin 2015, day 2

Prof. Johannes Bergerhausen. The medium is half the message: Typography, characters & semiotics. I carry a notebook, and I couldn’t stop writing (as you can see from my handwriting). So many new things I never heard of..! However, the most inspiring part of it was the way that typography is handled: starting from content, instead of form. This is exactly the way I always thought typography should be tought. Lifted from a technical level to the second one: questioning it’s existing ways and exploring new meanings. The rest of the day I tried to find the professor to ask him about the german way of teaching, but this crowd is so big that I will have to continue my quest today.

There was another guy I was really interested in: somebody known on Twitter as @neinquarterly. Often he is described as being a philosopher, but he rather calls himself a ‘failed intellectual’ that embraces nihilism.
He reminded me of Woody Allen. He has almost 100.000 followers. He wrote: ‘ What did Jesus have, like 12 followers?’
Twitter is his medium. He doesn’t have a desk, he just carries his phone. ‘The best tweet is always one step ahead of you, it’s somewhere out there.’
The hardest part is the context. He can’t control it. One of his light-hearted tweets could easily end up between tweets about serious natural disaster. Expressing the right tone of voice is essential, but almost impossible. ‘Less is more. More or less.’
I think he is a poet, as he writes himself:
‘One who breaks lines
to complete
a thought.’

Now try to find Prof. Johannes Bergerhausen.

What is an interface?


TypoBerlin 2015, day 1

There is something about conferences. If you are actually present, the experience is not only being inspired by lectures, it’s about indulging in the atmosphere. Being in a dark hall at a sunny day makes you feel totally cut out of daily life. It’s like seeing a movie at daytimes, only this movie lasts the whole day. It is exactly this experience that adds value to the many words you hear on such a day.

First of all: this was the first conference about typography that didn’t show me one typeface the first day. This was partly because of my personal selection ofcourse, but really, thank you programmers for this refreshing attitude!
The conference was opened by an academic, Jan Sowa. He is a polish sociologist, essayist, and translator. He talked about ‘Dialectics of design or the unbearable persistence of the Avant-Garde.’ I wish I could reread his lecture, because sitting in this dark hall listening to a theoretical flow of words is quite challenging. But there is one image he showed us that symbolises the state of where design is in: The Man Who Walked Through Walls, a statue of Marcel Aymé in Paris. I think the image is spot on.

The day ended with a lecture of Oliver Reichenstein, founder of IA Architecs. It was like seeing my favourite rockstar for the first time. He talked about living in Tokyo and being overwhelmed by a world he couldn’t read. Well, the text that is. He started to study ‘The Language of Things.’ This meant that he started to analyse the world around him by studying the appearence of an object. What does it tell you about how to use it? It was exactly this question that defines an interface. It is not the ‘What’, but it is the ‘How’. An interface is everyday life. It is what connects text and context.

Make room

If you think that typography is all about technique and skills, you miss out on its true potential.

Meet Robert Bringhurst. He was not only a typographer, but also a poet and linguist. His book The Elements of Typographic Style (1992) is considered one of the most influential reference books on typography and book design. You should buy it, read it and keep it.
Writer Roy Johnson noted that Bringhurst ‘can conjure poetry out of the smallest detail, and he offers a scholarly yet succinct etymology of almost every mark that can be made—from the humble hyphen to the nuances of serifs on Trajan Roman or a Carolingian Majuscule.’

Bringhurst also wrote an essay, The solid form of language, that looks at the natural history of human writing systems and their relationships to languages. Although the content was quite inimitable to me, the title wasn’t. It was an epiphany.
Till that day, I had a hard time explaining to people what it is exactly about typography that I find so intriguing. I could stare at one single curve for hours. The tension between white and black? The balance? The placement on the canvas? No. I always felt there was much more to it. And now I realised what it was. Language.

In a time where people state that graphic design isn’t a profession anymore, it seems self-evident that the first one to leave stage is typography. Typography is, indeed, the part that discerns graphic design from any other discipline.

My views on the future of design aside; language will never disappear. Letters make words. Words make sentences. Sentences make paragraphs. Paragraphs make stories, stories make the world.


Image: Jeroen Rijnart, Student Graphic Design, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam

Talk like a pro

Teaching typography is complicated. Typography covers so many different components of visual communication; one could establish an art school that deals with typography alone.

As a typography teacher, the most frequently asked question I get is: ‘How do I choose a font?’ My answer: ‘Start with learning about the characteristics of the characters first’. Knowledge is half the battle. Well, in this case: it’s the whole battle.

Teaching typography is complicated, because talking about typography easily becomes a conversation about taste. ‘I think this font is ugly; I looks so aggressive’. ‘I think this type is really nice because it makes me feel warm inside.’ A conversation that ends up in disagreement: subjective terms seem to justify every choice. ‘I am not you, you are not me, so I can do whatever I like.’

Teaching typography is complicated, if we keep talking in subjective terms. We need objectivity to be able to understand. Why?
Typography is embedded in the lives of everyone. People hold on to visual reference for organising their world. To understand the complex role of typography in this, we need crystal clear words to describe what we see. Words that cut right through the noise. We need tools to talk sense: stroke, line, contrast, balance, letter classification, legibility versus readability, micro versus macro typography.

Gaining this knowledge makes sure that you can underpin your design decisions to an audience, whether that is five hundred people or your own mind, without using vague, subjective terms as an amateur would do. So step one: learn to talk like a pro.




This website is dedicated to my 26 Best Friends who always inspire me, whatever their appearance. For me, it is a life-time commitment to handle them in a way they deserve, with recognition of their exceptional beauty and sterling power.

– Britt Möricke

Tomato Soup



First assignment in typography class: cook a perfect tomato soup. After the unbelief about this unexpected task, questions popped up: ’What kind of tomato soup? Italian of French? Creamy? Vegetarian? Organic? Hot or cold? Any crunchy vegetables in it?’
‘You figure that out,’ I answered.

Some went to the market to get two kilos of unripe tomatoes, others searched for the most inspiring recipe ever. Of course they were lost. The results were as expected: the unripe tomatoes made the soup taste like water and the most inspiring recipe seemed too complicated.

‘Where to start?’, they asked.
‘Right here,’ I said. ‘This is an A’.


…my thoughts and point of views about typography at Facebook!

How I can help you


If you need custom lettering, calligraphic writing or hand-drawn type – don’t hesitate to contact me. Whatever the medium, whatever the size or material or its intended use, I can possibly help you out.

Also, if you might be in need for advice in all matters related to typography, you’re welcome. Being well versed in today’s typographical aspects like readability and legibility, I can – if you so wish – turn your problem into a solution and do so with a well-trained eye. So drop me a line if you have a problem, big or small.


Internship at Penguin Putnam Inc., NYC (2000)
Bachelor Graphic Design at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (2002)
Master degree (Type&Media) at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (2003)

Tutor Typography, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam (2007 – ….)
Head of Graphic Design Department at Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam (2008 – 2012)

Founder and copy writer at INCLDD




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