Series: Cultural History of the Signature – Part 3

Series: Cultural History of the Signature – Part 3
30 Jul 2019

The signature – its history, its cultural significance and its role in the digital age: enjoy a short cultural-historical excursion around the signature in our four-part series.

Previously …

Part 1: History
Part 2: Handwriting

Part 3 – Types

Leaded air is what western movies talk about. What is meant is the crackling atmosphere when gunslingers’ fingers sit too loosely on the trigger of a firearm. But leaded air also had to be feared in less glamorous contexts. For example, in lead typesetting in old-school print shops: the pages for tomorrow’s newspaper were puzzled together with heavy letters, the types. A process that was still in use until the 80s of the 20th century. The main focus was on the press, a monster whose noise level could compete with that of a heavy metal music festival.

Today’s methods are characterized by a significantly more relaxed background noise, and a somewhat lighter relationship has been achieved to signatures and letters in each content and physical weight class. And this is not only due to the technology of the electronic signature. As a result of extensive digitalization, letters flicker almost exclusively in pixels on screens, and the typesetting of newspaper pages has long managed without lead. After all, half a millennium has passed since the origins of the personal signature.

Typeface of Austrian PostHowever, unmistakable types still play the same prominent role in the written and printed word. One example is the work of Typejockeys. The Viennese design agency has specialized in the draft of unmistakable writings for products and enterprise appearances. “Individual fonts and letters are like signatures,” says company founder Anna Fahrmaier. “As with personal signatures, we create unique corporate typefaces whose sender can be clearly assigned.” Similar to the human voice, where even small nuances provide information about who owns it.

Her company recently supplied Austrian Post with an exclusive typeface. “The proof of authenticity and authenticity has gained a new quality in the digital age,” Fahrmaier says. “Things are speeding up through digital transformation – there are many more competitors for individual business areas than in the analogue world. There is always the danger that individuality will fall by the wayside.” That is why expert Fahrmaier sees authenticity as more than just a beautiful shell. “It is an element that ensures trust and credibility in the process of digital transformation.” The feedback from the client Austrian Post was correspondingly positive: The own typeface is seen as a strong element of one’s own identity – just as distinctive as a qualified electronic signature.

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Up next …

Part 4: Art