Eric Gill & Function vs Art (was Engineers and Writers)

Subject: Eric Gill & Function vs Art (was Engineers and Writers)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- AXIONET -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 14:32:53 -0500

Michael Wing wrote:

> Writing for us is functional, not artistic. The artistic >side to writing may be more suitable for other fields of >writing.

I just finished Eric Gill's "Essay on Typography." It was a bit of an
eye-opener. Gill is always depicted as an artisian who opposed
technological production, and his production of fonts is seen as a
betrayal of his position.

Gill obviously preferred to be an artisian. However, he also saw that
technological production could have its own aesthetic. The aesthetics of
machinery, Gill thought, lay in consistent, simple, and functional
design. And it's these qualities, I suggest, that he put into his

I mention Glill's ideas because I think that they're relevant to this
topic. I would argue that a manual whose writing allows readers to learn
from it, and whose layout is readable and usable for what purpose
follows a well-developed set of aesthetics. True, it has a different
aesthetic from a novel, and not many people have the knowledge to
appreciate that aesthetic, but it has an aesthetic all the same.
Bruce Byfield (bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com)
Technical Writer
Burnaby, BC, Canada
(604) 421-7189

"I'm not prepared to say much else about love with any
certainty at all. It seems to be something you are exposed
to in its season and sometimes you catch it. When you do,
there's nothing for it but to bundle up warm and drink
plenty of fluids. I recommend bourbon."
--M.W. Keiper

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