What When Words Are Our Art

Arranging letters in space can create more than one meaning…

I am not a perfect human, and I have many flaws. One of these flaws is that sometimes I fail to recognize the efforts that someone makes and focus instead on the mistakes they made. When I say “mistakes” I am speaking of typographical (or related) errors in the publishing realm. First, a disclaimer. I’ve worked in publishing for over 30 years, and I also really, really, like to get things right. (I’ve even served as a Technical Editor for two books. And I still make mistakes!)

But when someone volunteers their own time to help promote something (good) and I point out the errors, I think I am being helpful… but I also need to remember there is a human on the other end of my feedback.

After a recent incident, a friend sent me the image above. Here’s where my brain does weird things. When I saw the word “hykoo” my brain did not translate it to “haiku” and I assumed it was a non-English word. Of course it’s just a phonetic spelling of haiku. Yeah, it took me a minute.

I think my friend thought I might be annoyed by this image, but I see it as art, and in art, there are no rules besides those the artist creates for themselves. I like the image you see above.

This one’s a classic! Did I mention I have a degree in Graphic Design? Well, I do. This will piss off all of your designer friends! Except, not really. It won’t. Not if they are good designers. As a designer, I recognize this was designed. I realize a designer made conscious decisions about how to space everything. The kerning and leading are not accidents, or defaults that were not adjusted by someone. The use of white space in this piece is quite good. This is all deliberate, and it works really well. (Except for the idea that it will piss off your designer friends.)

Here’s a recent print I created. The type is a bit distorted, and it may be difficult to read. That’s okay. This is a piece of art. Communicating the message is not the only purpose of this piece. In other forms of publishing communicating something as clearly as possible is probably the number one goal, and with that in mind, avoiding errors (typographical or otherwise) and creating a message that is clear, concise, and well written is what most people probably prefer.

But what do I know? I’m just a hack. (Also, let me know if there are any typos or other misteaks in this post.)

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