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  • Translator: Camille Martínez Reviewer: TED Translators admin

  • Can you imagine what the word "TED" would have looked like

  • if it had existed during the Roman Empire?

  • I think maybe something like this.

  • An artisan would have spent days in the sun chiseling it into stone.

  • And in the Middle Ages?

  • A monk, locked in his room,

  • would write T-E-D with his pen.

  • And without going so far back in time,

  • how would these letters have looked in the 80s?

  • They would have had electric, strange colors,

  • just like our hairstyles.

  • (Laughter)

  • If this event were about children,

  • I would draw the letters like this,

  • as if they were building blocks,

  • in vivid colors.

  • And if it were about superheroes instead?

  • I would do them like this,

  • inspired by -- in my opinion -- the greatest of all:

  • Superman.

  • (Laughter)

  • The shapes of these letters talk.

  • They tell us things beyond what they represent.

  • They send us to different eras,

  • they convey values,

  • they tell us stories.

  • If we think about it, our days are full of letters.

  • We see them on the front of the bus,

  • on the bakery's facade,

  • on the keyboard we write on,

  • on our cell phones --

  • everywhere.

  • Since the beginning of history,

  • people have felt the need to give language an image.

  • And rightly so,

  • because language is the most important communication tool we have.

  • Without understanding what a word means,

  • we can see certain things it conveys.

  • Some letters tell us that something is modern --

  • at least it was back in the 70s.

  • Others verify the importance and monumentality of a place,

  • and they do so in uppercase.

  • There are letters not made to last long --

  • and neither is the opportunity they communicate.

  • And there are letters made by inexperienced hands

  • that, whether they mean to or not,

  • make us imagine what a place looks like inside.

  • When I moved to Berlin, I experienced firsthand

  • all the impact that drawn letters can have in our day-to-day life.

  • I arrived in a new city, which was exciting and novel for me.

  • Now, dealing with an unfamiliar language was at times very frustrating

  • and uncomfortable.

  • I found myself several times at parties clutching my glass of wine,

  • without understanding a single word of what was being said around me.

  • And of course, I'd smile as if I understood everything.

  • I felt limited in my ability to say what I thought,

  • what I felt,

  • what I believed.

  • Not only did I not understand the conversations,

  • but the streets were full of signs and text that I couldn't read.

  • But the shapes of the letters gave me clues;

  • they would open up a little window

  • to understanding the stories enclosed in those shapes.

  • I recognized places where tradition was important.

  • [Bakery Pastries Café Restaurant]

  • Or I'd know when someone was trying to give me a signal,

  • and my gut would tell me it was better to stay away.

  • [No trespassing!]

  • I could also tell when something was made to last forever.

  • The shapes of letters helped me understand my surroundings better

  • and navigate the city.

  • I was in Paris recently,

  • and something similar happened to me.

  • After a few days in the city,

  • I was on the lookout for something tasty to take back home.

  • So I walked and walked and walked until I found the perfect bakery.

  • The sign said it all.

  • [Bakery]

  • I see it, and even today, I imagine the master baker

  • dedicating the same amount of time to each loaf of bread

  • that the craftsman dedicated to each letter of this word.

  • I can see the bread, with just the right ingredients,

  • being kneaded softly and carefully,

  • in the same way the craftsman drew the ends of the letters

  • with smooth and precise curves.

  • I see the master baker placing the buns over a thin layer of flour

  • so the bottoms don't burn.

  • I think of the craftsman putting the mosaics in the oven one by one,

  • being careful to not let the ink run.

  • The love for detail that the master baker has

  • is reflected in the attention that went into creating this sign.

  • Without having tried their bread, we already imagine it tastes good.

  • And I can vouch for it; it was delicious.

  • I'm a letterer; that's my job --

  • to draw letters.

  • Just like when you make bread, it requires care in its preparation,

  • just the right amount of ingredients

  • and love for the details.

  • Our alphabet is at the same time my raw material and my limitation.

  • The basic structure of the letters is for me a playing field,

  • where the only rule is that the reader, at the end of the road,

  • will be able to read the message.

  • Let me show you how I work,

  • how I "knead my bread."

  • A while back, I was commissioned to design the cover of a classic book,

  • "Alice in Wonderland."

  • Alice falls in a burrow

  • and begins an absurd journey through a world of fantasy, remember?

  • In this situation, the title of the story is my raw material.

  • At first glance, there are elements that are not very important,

  • and I can decide to make them smaller.

  • For example, I'll write "in" on a smaller scale.

  • Then I'll try some other ideas.

  • What if, to communicate the idea of "wonder,"

  • I used my best handwriting,

  • with lots of curleycues here and there?

  • Or what if I focused more on the fact that the book is a classic

  • and used more conventional lettering,

  • making everything look a little more stiff and serious,

  • like in an encyclopedia or old books?

  • Or how would it look, considering this book has so much gibberish,

  • if I combined both universes in a single arrangement:

  • rigid letters and smooth letters living together in the same composition.

  • I like this idea, and I'll work on it in detail.

  • I use another sheet of paper to work more comfortably.

  • I mark some guidelines,

  • delimiting the framework where the words will be.

  • There, I can start giving form to each letter.

  • I work carefully.

  • I dedicate time to each letter without losing sight of the whole.

  • I draw the ends of the letters methodically.

  • Are they square or round?

  • Are they pointy or plump and smooth?

  • I always make several sketches,

  • where I'll try different ideas or change elements.

  • And there comes a point when the drawing turns into precise forms,

  • with colors, volumes and decorative elements.

  • Alice, the celebrity here, is placed at the front

  • with volume in her letters.

  • Lots of points and lines playing in the background

  • help me convey that in this story, lots of things happen.

  • And it helps to represent the feeling it generates,

  • as if you had your head in the clouds.

  • And of course, there's Alice, looking at her wonderland.

  • Drawing the letters of this title, I recreate the text's atmosphere a little.

  • I let the reader see the story through a peephole in the door.

  • To do that, I gave shape to concepts and ideas

  • that already exist in our imagination:

  • the idea of dreams,

  • of chaos,

  • the concept of wonder.

  • The typography and the shape of letters work a bit like gestures

  • and tone of voice.

  • It's not the same to say,

  • (In a flat tone of voice) "TEDxRíodelaPlata's audience is huge,"

  • as it is to say (In an animated voice), "TEDxRíodelaPlata's audience is huge!"

  • Gestures and tone are part of the message.

  • By giving shape to the letters,

  • I can decide more precisely what I mean to say and how,

  • beyond the literal text.

  • I can say my favorite swear word in a very flowery way

  • and be really corny when I talk about love.

  • I can talk loudly and in a grandiose way

  • or in a soft and poetic voice.

  • And I can communicate the difference between Buenos Aires

  • and Berlin,

  • two cities I know very well.

  • It was precisely in Berlin where my work became more colorful,

  • more expressive,

  • more precise at telling stories.

  • Everything I couldn't say at those parties,

  • standing there holding my glass of wine,

  • exploded in shapes and colors on paper.

  • Without my realizing it, this limitation that language has

  • became an engine

  • that propelled me to perfect the tools with which I could express myself.

  • If I couldn't say it by speaking,

  • this was my way of talking

  • and telling things to the world.

  • Since then, my big quest has been to find my own voice

  • and to tell stories with the exact tone and gesture I want.

  • No more, no less.

  • That's why I combine colors,

  • textures

  • and of course, letters,

  • which are the heart.

  • And that's why I always want them to have shapes that are truly beautiful

  • and exquisite.

  • Telling stories by drawing letters --

  • that's my job.

  • And with that I look for a reaction in the reader,

  • to wake them up somehow,

  • to make them dream,

  • make them feel moved.

  • I believe that if the message is important,

  • it requires work and craftsmanship.

  • And if the reader is important,

  • they deserve beauty and fantasy as well.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Camille Martínez Reviewer: TED Translators admin

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B1 US TED bakery alice bread reader craftsman

【TED】Martina Flor: The secret language of letter design (The secret language of letter design (with English subtitles) | Martina Flor)

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    Zenn posted on 2018/01/05
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