Jan Tschichold: Loyal and Faithful Servant of the Written Word, by Joe Dizney
“Jan Tschichold (1902-1974), by his own words, “loyal and faithful servant of the written word,” was actually to that manor born. The son of a Leipzig, Germany journeyman sign painter he literally grew up amidst letterforms.
He reportedly recalls, his “deep satisfaction” when at 17 he saw by chance some English magazine pages set in Caslon type. As an early student of calligraphy, you would by rights expect him to have become a type designer, and though he does have fonts to his credit (the by-now classic Garamond-based Sabon being the most famous and Saskia from 1931 being an elegant and interesting italic), Tschichold’s reputation as a designer and typographer is based more on his uncontested precision with the universal details of communicating through the medium of type, with particular emphasis on the form and proportion of the book.
As a teacher, theoretician and advocate of Die Neue Typographie (the title of his historic tract from 1928), a fiery young Tschichold enthusiastically took up the banner of strict Modernist design after exposure to early Weimar Bauhaus exhibits. In it he effectively denounces the “decay”—the clutter and filigree—prevalent in common German design and typography at the time, promoting exclusive usage of sans serif (Grotesk) typefaces and asymmetrical layouts.”
Snippets from an outstanding article about Jan Tschichold and his influence on modern typography, written by Joe Dizney, former Design Director of The Wall Street Journal. The whole article has been posted by Thornwillow Press: