In this article I will be analyzing the work of iconic typographer Jan Tschichold and observe the specific elements that separates from other artists type fonts.

“Tschichold is the best known publicist and practitioner of the ’new typography’ that developed in Europe between the wars. His first interest was in antiquarian lettering. In 1923, after his first exposure to the Bauhaus, Tschichold changed his style completely. At the Bauhaus, classical form was to be abandoned and the structure and function of everything was to be rethought. Tschichold was hooked. For a while, he even Russianised his name to Ivan to identify himself more closely with the left. He began to promote aggressively the new typography in printing trade journals and a series of practical manuals.

The ‘new typography’ was strongly in favour of asymmetry and bold sans serif typefaces. He was condemned by the Nazis for creating un-German typography and accused of ‘Kulturbolschevismus’, and was arrested and interned for a while. He took refuge in Switzerland in 1935. While in Switzerland he published ‘Asymmetric Typography’ where he uncompromisingly advocated the new typography. True to character, he performed a volte face in the 1940s and came to the conclusion that the ‘new typography’ was inherently Fascist. His later typefaces were in a new classical style. He designed only one widely used typeface – Sabon. In England, he is best known for his redesigned of Penguin books in 1946.

There can be neither a genuinely new, nor a ‘reactionary’ typography, but only good or bad typography (Davies, 2000).”

What I liked about Jan Tschichold’s way of working, was how he analyzed his own style of work in a absolute way. Where he would push the potential of his work to the preferred standard that gave it a more unique and relevant look.

“Font design by Jan Tschichold (Sabon)”

My understanding of Jan Tschichold is that he focused on making his work (typography) absolute, to the point where it would either be given a positive or negative response. I personally like the concept of his style of work ethics, where he has used two separate typefaces and combined there elements to create another typeface that is both asymmetry and bold sans serif.

He pushes his work to a distinctive standard that is also differential as well as versatile. Also by keeping true to his style of type he seeks to keep maintaining originality, which I think what makes his work come across modernised for a longer period of time. 

“The mid 1920s was a period of great productivity for Albers and Moholy. Before joining the Bauhaus, Moholy experimented with ideas of style and authorship, and he even assigned the execution of some of his paintings – such as Telephone Picture EM1 (1922) – to a sign painter. The title refers to his claim that he might as well have ordered the paintings over the telephone. It was around this time that he began to title works with a combination of letters and numbers akin to a scientific formula, reflecting his desire to purge the artist’s touch from his work and create instead a pure order from impersonal compositional elements (Tate, 2006).” 

What I find interesting about Tschichold source of inspiration is how it allowed him to make creative preparations on his own style, to improve and re-create. Which is how I believe his work has come to be so strong, from how he observes things and coverts the strength of there concepts to his line of typographic skills. 


Image2. David Johnson-Davies. 2000. Identifont.

Image1. Swiss Type Design. 2008.

Tate. 2006.