Nice typeface, shame about the typefacer




I must warn you that this post contains trigger subjects, as well as the following conundrum from Ed from Oxford :

I like the work of Eric Gill. Maybe you do too? Maybe you like his carvings, like Ariel on Broadcasting House, or his typefaces, like Gill Sans. Maybe. In any case, if you live in England (or read printed text) you’ve probably seen some of his stuff; he was pretty prolific.

He was also, it turns out, an awful man, with an energetically and eclectically abusive sex life that included his daughter and his dog.

So answer me this: when is it OK to enjoy the great art of awful people? (Or the Operation Yewtree version of the question: the mediocre art of allegedly awful people.)

‘When is it OK’? Do you mean times like when I’m looking at the BBC logo, or official written matter from the British or Spanish governments, or the cover of a classic Penguin paperback, and I think, “I sure am relieved they used Gill Sans rather than Comic Sans, even if dude was a self-confessed sex criminal”? Surely the question is: “Is it OK to enjoy the great art of awful people?” And is there a sliding scale where the greater the art, the more awful acts the artist can get away with?

At the moment this topic is a particularly hotly debated matter, so readers, what do you think? When Mel Gibson went all Sugar Tits, did you smash your DVD of Mad Max 2? Or, conversely, when you read James Blunt’s amusingly self-deprecating tweets, did you subsequently find ‘You’re Beautiful’ more tolerable? Or do you take care to mentally separate the work and the creator of the work? After all, you wouldn’t want to be in danger of actually starting to enjoy ‘You’re Beautiful’.


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One Response to “Nice typeface, shame about the typefacer”

  1. Kate Finnie Says:

    I’m genuinely alarmed by how easy I find it to separate art and artist. There’s no soul-searching, or care taken; they’re just obviously different to me. As long as art doesn’t change the conditions of the abuse or punishment (ie. a more lenient court judgment for a great artist or something), it lives in its own space.

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