Sunday, October 10, 2010


Fulminating about poor typography a couple of posts ago, and throwing in a reference to blackletter, reminded me of a quote from the great American type designer Frederic Goudy.

("Blackletter" is a generic term for those Old English or Germanic typefaces that seem inspired by the handwriting of monks in illuminated manuscripts. Like lower case fonts, it looks better when the letters are set without too much air between them.)

The apocryphal story is that Goudy's comment was inspired by an award he had received for his contributions to typography. He was honored by the recognition, but glancing critically at the specially made certificate, he added in an aside: "Anyone who'd letterspace blackletter would f*ck a sheep."
This fairly famous quote has been cleaned up in other versions, but trust me, this is what he meant.
Blackletter is almost unreadable set in all caps, too, but fortunately, she doesn't have to look at it. How long did it take you to decipher?


  1. I know a site that is devoted entirely to horrible tattoos, but it's absolutely NSFW (or the home, or for anywhere children might be looking over your shoulder). They make old MORT MALT look tame...

  2. Not bad. It's supposed to be LIFE WON'T WAIT.

    I did find another picture that shows how bad Old English looks in all caps. This time it was across a guy's back, and it was supposed to say ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME. But to my eye, it clearly says ONLY GOB CAN JUDGE ME. And since neither the tattooist nor the owner of the Gangsta Tattoo website I found it on had noticed -- nor presumably had the owner, or he'd be in jail for killing a tattoo artist by now -- I think it proves my point about the illegibility of this type approach.

    However, I was too scared to misappropriate the photo in case they found me.

  3. When our children were elementary school aged, we took them to London. They adjusted well to taking the tube and English money, but Old English lettering proved to be too much. Seeing a wooden sign outside the local pub they asked, "Why is it named 'The Rose of Dork"?" At least we got that sorted out before we took them to Yorkshire.

  4. If you Google "Only God Can Judge Me" -- which seems to be a popular tat for the shoulder blades -- select "images," and scroll down a page or so, you can see the ONLY GOB . . . artwork. (The website doesn't allow copies.)

    I wonder if this meme has some association with those sailors of earlier times who'd have a crucifix or other religious image tattoed on their back, so that they wouldn't get lashed if they were sentenced to the cat o' nine tails?

    Boy, you can have fun if you search for "tattoos" on the internet, including a whole site devoted to misspelled tats. A typo is forever. But among the many collections of unusual tattoos that you find, I have to ask who wants a permanent portrait of Weird Al Yankovic on their body.

  5. Except that I faint around needles, I'd get *knit or die* on my ankle. Seriously.