Fonts in exlibris: critical analysis Cover Image

Fonts in exlibris: critical analysis

Author(s): Tatyana Safonova
Subject(s): Visual Arts
Published by: Національна академія керівних кадрів культури і мистецтв
Keywords: inscription font; style forms; hand writing and painted fonts; basics of composition; harmony; tone; colour;

Summary/Abstract: The article studies gradual steps regarding the critical analysis of inscription fonts in terms of exlibris composition. The small size of exlibris is a problem for analysis efficiency – it’s difficult for the artist to reflect the authenticity of font form and style, and for the researcher – to see all peculiarities, but the author thinks the analysis should be done. The forms of font styles are related to the essence of artistic exlibris. One may see a Greek capital, Gothic style, Art Nouveau, old-Russian decorative inscription – script and cyrillic. There are exlibris where hand-written and drawn fonts are used. The hand-written fonts are calligraphic ones that are created by applying pen with different pressure to create a thin line of different thickness – this is an ordinary bi-pressure calligraphy. Among these fonts artists prefer to create in-scription using a white line on a black background, using a black line on a white background. Among drawn fonts are the initial font, edited by the graphic artist N. Illyin, ornamental writing, silhouette-like etc. It’s possible to complete a critical analysis of the font inscription due to general requirements: clarity, readability, simplicity of font, stylistic relevance between font and image, relevance between font size and image. Authors of exlibrises use fonts that may be defined based on: drawing style (straight, oblique and italic), density (normal, thick, thin), saturation (light, semi-bold, bold). Such approach allows one to see fonts that are present in exlibris and are like typographic fonts with just slightly noticeable notches, to detect sub-type of squared. Author of the article also noticed that sometimes there are inscriptions that are not fully relevant to image and style. This is revealed in the contrast of graphical forms, in using several inscriptions done under different angles, unsuccessful usage of different font sizes. Some inscriptions are done by decorative wedge font and can be either white on a black background, or vice versa. Sometimes a decorative font look is very special when it’s created by a wide graver. Unusual solution is to merge the drawn font with image so that the font is like the continuation of the image, e.g. hedgehog needles or letters-leaves of the tree. When artist wants to create a monumental composition in exlibris, then he uses relief or surround font that ex-press illusion of thickness and depth. Memorial exlibris sometimes may have rhymed text from literary work, e.g. taken from T. Shevchenko’s works. They are done in simple drawn font, sometimes even calligraphic. It’s difficult here to implement it successfully, because of a small space devoted to this. Moreover, the same reason along with the compositional solution that had not been thought beforehand resulted in unsuccessful result. The study exposed the fact that artists usually drop spaces between words that reduce readability and attractiveness of font as an artistic element. Isolated from artistic plot, portrait or landscape, it’s not possible to study the art of inscription. Inscription as an integral part of the composition has not only certain characteristics but is more like a compositional indicator that represents the quality and features the whole picture. In different cases, being placed close to the image, the inscription is done in a relevant font supports the overall composition due to symmetrical placement, accents the asymmetry and pin-points the key element in it. The general sense of composition can be seen in font forms, inscriptions grouped in blocks along with linear, spotted or stroke image – all this creates illusion of static or dynamic movement. Font inscriptions can be seen in many places. It may create a circle-, square-styled form, may be helix-like or repeat the image form, outline it or be a curled line. Sometimes there are cases of difficult reading – vertical inscriptions that goes from top to bottom are perceived like flipped upside down and are quite unusual for Slavonic people.Considering artists participating actively in international events, including exlibris-related international sphere, there are Russian and English inscriptions in exlibris. Usually there’s only one font style that is used in exlibris composition, but there are also cases when three, four or more fonts can be used. In that case, critical analysis should be based on level of harmonic co-existence and evaluation of successful solution or detection of drawbacks. In book illustration, artists introduce decorative lines; write initial word letters as special capital letter, ending in-scriptions turn into stylized pictures (leaves), vignettes. There are various styles how to write words: exlibris, from book, collection of books, "from library of", "library of", "EL". Restrained by a closed small space of composition, artists split up words spelling them out, build up vertical blocks; – all this creates a harmony of perception. The best way is to use an abbreviated "EL". Artists usually print out exlibris works in black-and-white editions on a white paper, sometimes they use color paper depending on a single case or for a conceptual presentation (album edition). Single-color printouts are done in red, ochre, terracotta variants. It’s also worth to point out the quality of carving, technique of implementation that influence directly on readability of a font inscription and ease of a whole graphics perception. All peculiarities of font inscriptions in exlibris composition were reviewed and described above give base for the estimation of an overall value of an artistic masterpiece.

  • Issue Year: 1/2014
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 149-153
  • Page Count: 5
  • Language: Ukrainian