Copy-fitting and layout on the fly

x2016-04-29-copy-fitting-exerciseSometimes the daily lettering isn’t about working on letter forms or loosening up with gestural strokes. On Friday, it was a sort of on-the-fly copy-fitting exercise, right-brained and hard to describe. Two or three things are going on, I think.

First, there is the guestimating about horizontal space − evaluating how big the letters should be, and how compressed or expanded. I was running out of room on the third line … but I kind of like that my choice for “so” makes it stand out. It almost gives “Valley Girl” emphasis to the phrase, which amuses me.

Second, though, there is the goal of making the current letters respect (and also with respect to) the line of letters above it. I added an entrance stroke to the “k” on “knowledge” to avoid having its spine line up with the spine of the “p” on the line above. “Falls out” doesn’t work very well here, opening up a big space between the “a” and “l” which connects to the space on the line above between “as” and “your” to make a big blob of white. I don’t mind the space between “falls” and “out” because it leaves room for “heart” to fall through to the last line. But “falls out” is just two few letters to work well on that line.

Third, there is the question of whether the letters should be larger or smaller than the others, given their importance to the content. Looking this over, I like my choices. I can read simply:

Watch out for intellect,
as your heart falls out of your mouth.


Watch out for intellect,
it know nothing and leaves you
as your heart falls out of your mouth.

Describing this process breaks it down and destroys the flow of the process. As Jacob Bronowsky said in a lecture memorialized in The Origins of Knowledge of Imagination, “It is an essential part of the methodology of science to divide the world for any experiment into what we regard as relevant and what we regard, for purposes of that experiment, as irrelevant. We make a cut. We put the experiment, if you like, into a box. Now the moment we do that, we do violence to the connections in the world … we are always decoding a part of nature which is not complete. We simply cannot get out of our own finiteness.”

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