– Mark E. Smith

Nothing made me sadder about my contribution to typography than this photograph.

Ivo Gabrowitsch holding his hand up as if to speak, Erik Spiekermann with head in hands, David Berlow with hand over mouth

Typography is a fraternity with all the expected fraternal rivalries, none of which stand in the way of working with each other. Everybody hates Hrant’s guts, but Microsoft still hired him to work on Armenian. The man whose photo I am excerpting here couldn’t be arsed to hang around the office 20 minutes after work to meet me while I was in San Francisco, yet here his photo is.

We all work together because, as I mentioned before, no one understands the whole of typography. That would mean understanding the whole of writing. Everyone sees only one side of the mountain, its apex misty in fog.

I’ve tried and tried to contribute. What I have contributed is not nothing, but it is not enough. (Along the way, I have earned barely a penny for my work.) I look at this picture of three great minds of two generations working together just to draw a single character (ẞ) and I see the camaraderie; I see the acceptance as equals, on which score Spiekermann is especially generous; I see the collaboration. (I see Ivo looking sharp.) I don’t see how I could have helped, nor do I see anyone anywhere eager for my help in the areas where I have true expertise.

Nothing made me sadder about my contribution to typography than this photograph.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.05.04 12:58. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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