Interview - Parachute® on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

bazar+covers

An Interview with Kostas Aggeletakis
(Creative Director of HARPER’S BAZAAR-Greek edition)

1. Which are your criteria for choosing a typeface for a publication?
Typography is an artistic expression and as such is very difficult to define these criteria. Choosing a typeface for a publication is a total different procedure from opening a recipe book which can advice you on what you can or cannot do with letters. I never follow certain rules but I always have in mind the following:
a. The content of the publication. Every typeface has a personality, so I want its personality to respect and communicate the content of the publication.
b. Legibility
c. The medium (screen or paper).
d. The audience. I’ll use a total different set of typefaces for a children’s book and a different one for the annual report of a big company.
e. The overall quality of the typeface. A high quality font with all the letters, ligatures, numbers, punctuation marks, currency and mathematical symbols available is the one that I’ll trust to do my work.

2. Do you prefer serif or sans-serif and why?
It’s difficult to answer this question. I can’t choose between two typefaces knowing only that the one is serif and the other one is san serif. There are many other factors for my choice beside this.

3. Which typeface you would never use for Harper’s Bazaar?
Harper’s Bazaar is a historic American fashion magazine with a very sophisticated perspective about fashion and beauty and with audience in the middle-upper and upper class. Harper’s Bazaar had been the home of many talents such as Carmel Snow, Diana Vreeland , Richard Avedon, Man Ray, Andy Warhol and others. The visual identity of Harper’s Bazaar has the signature of his legendary art director, Alexey Brodovitch and his Bazaar’s iconic Didot logo carries a big part of the magazine’s history. Having all these in mind and since typefaces convey the social position of a magazine, determined by the reader’s upbringing and earlier influences, it’s hard to use any typeface which does not convey all the above. In recent past Harper’s Bazaar used DIN, but this is one font that I would never use in this magazine. DIN is not the only font that I would not use for Harper’s Bazaar (of course script and blackletter typefaces are out of the question) but I think this is a very good example for someone to understand which typefaces do not match with this publication.

4. Would you ever compromise legibility for aesthetics and when?
Legibility or readability isn’t the only task of a font. A typeface is not only the medium by which we convey to the reader the meaning of text, it is also shapes and forms. Graphic design is also shapes and forms. Therefore, letters may sometimes loose their legibility for the sake of aesthetics, but this does not necessarily mean that they loose their power.

5. Is economy of text a major concern when it comes to choosing a typeface for your magazine?
Not really. In a fashion magazine like Harper’s Bazaar long articles are not usual, so there is no need for a narrow typeface.

6. What do you see to be the next trend for magazine design?
Magazines and newspapers are no longer the only media we use for news, fashion, entertaiment, etc. Needs have changed, therefore the medium has to change as well. In this context, the new magazines must portray their character. The “new” magazines will be like coffee table books. Magazines with a strong concept, sophisticated images and illustrations, eye catching typography, high quality papers, in new formats and all sorts of different sizes. These are the magazines of the future.

7. Which motto describes best yourself and your work?
“Art is not a reflection of reality, it’s the reality of that reflection”
- Jean-Luc Godard

History - Parachute® on Friday, April 04th, 2008


The Byzantine illuminated manuscripts
// by Panos Vassiliou

East meets West. Byzantine art –mostly a religious art- is the result of a cross-fertilization of ideas that led to a resurgence in creative thinking and aesthetic stimulation. The two basic sources from which it is derived are the Hellenistic and Eastern art. The former, a representational art, is more anthropocentric, whereas the latter is relatively non-figural, decorative in character, lavish in design and dazzling in color.

In the representation of the human form it is the influence of antiquity, the hellenistic style, which is preeminent, whereas that of the East predominates in the decorative features (fig.2).
The aim of the Byzantine art was not purely aesthetics, but rather to induce spiritual contemplation and bring the faithful closer to God.

fig01

The styles and forms that predominate the Byzantine decorations are the following:
1. Geometric. They derive from ancient Greek motifs on vases, as well as arabesque ornaments, which either combined or separate, are used as bands on wall paintings and for headpieces in manuscripts (fig.3).


fig02

2. Flowers, birds and animal designs (fig.4).

fig03

The majority of Byzantine art is represented with wall paintings, mosaics, iconography and illuminated manuscripts. These manuscripts are the major source of the Byzantine civilization in all its aspects. They are mostly Greek but there are also several in Latin, Arabic, Armenian and Russian. Their craftmanship is superlative. They are embellished with unparalleled decorations such as initials, borders and miniature illustrations, using rich colours on glittering surfaces.

They are illustrated in three different ways:
1. with decorative headpieces at the opening of a page, often accompanied by a decorated initial (fig.5).

fig04


2. with figures, scenes and decorations disposed vertically and horizontally over text (fig.6).

3. with full-page illuminations (fig.7).

fig05

fig06

Byzantine manuscripts is a form of artistic expression with great interest to scholars, designers, architects, artists, researchers and students. Unfortunately, these historic treasures were kept from the public eye for centuries.
The centers of the Byzantine culture were conquered by the Turks and destroyed, but several of them, such as the monasteries of Mt. Athos, Meteora and Patmos in Greece, managed to survive and keep their libraries intact but far from the interested individuals.
Recently, an unprecedented series of ornaments and borders were revived -based on these originals- and are available in a layered outline font format. You may view samples here.
Ornamental Treasures 1
Ornamental Treasures 2
Ornamental Treasures 3

References
Grabar A. “La peinture Byzantine” Geneva 1953
Ebersolt J. “La miniature Byzantine” Paris 1926
Museum of Byzantine Culture “The treasures of Mt Athos”
Thessaloniki 1

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