Draw my Life: Matthew Patrick at Game Theory

The Game Theorists just hit 500,000 subs and to thank you, I wanted to share with you the story behind Game Theory and how significant your support has been in my life. It’s a lot more than you might think.

This is a video that’s inspiration, interesting, and lovely all in one, and a real look at how people behind even the most basic of Youtube videos feels about their following. Game Theory, however, is actually an interesting channel – and I don’t even play video games.

Gratuitous rant about job-hunting

Or: How I’ve stopped dealing with rejection like an adult

Job-hunting will be the death of me.

For four months I have been constantly searching for work, and not just as a designer but as an editor, copywriter, proofreader, marketing guy (sorry, Bill), and a gardener. Nothing’s doing, there’s nothing out there. Even in London the jobs seem scarce – though, as an indication of my desperation I did apply for a London-based job, but I referred to the company as Cambridge University Press by mistake and didn’t send them any of my work, so that’s not going anywhere.

It’s a shame, not because of an overwhelming passion for design on my part, but because I have skills that I worked hard for three years to develop that aren’t being put to use. Now, after four months at the same place where I can say I’ve designed absolutely nothing, I feel I’ve lost a step. I’m out of practice and out of motivation, so much so that even London seems like a good idea sometimes.

And there’s one of the big issues: it seems like unless you’re in London you’re fucked, big time. If you want to make it anywhere you have to work in London, that’s where the big companies are, that’s where, apparently, “everything” is. The problem is that I cannot stand London, I’m a quiet country boy with an aversion to crowds and an uncompetitive streak, but if I want to actually realise any of my ambitions before its too late that’s probably where I’m going to have to end up.

Give me two more months…

It’s not just me, either. I know a few people who are on the job market, others who have been recently been looking for work, and they were universally miserable about it. Job-hunting is a miserable, expensive, soul-destroying business. As a writer I am used to rejection and disappointment (one could also argue that as a human I am used to those things too) but even my thick skin is being tested by the interminable process of trying to find work, and I know others that are reaching the end of their tether over the whole thing.

I know I could be worse off, I know people without jobs trying desperately to secure work before they starve. But jeez, I sure miss the poverty of being unemployed sometimes.

It seems to work like relationships: when you want one you can’t get anywhere near one, but when you don’t everybody wants you. When I wasn’t looking for work but applying for menial jobs to help me through university, no problem, when I was aimlessly applying for jobs for after university, come aboard! But now that I am completely desperate, nothing, no entry; no trainers.

I trained for three years to be a book designer, I was good at it too: I was the most innovative and conceptual designer on my course, even if I wasn’t the best practically – but I was in the top 40% for sure. But that counts for nothing, and as businesses receive more applications they’re making the process more difficult and longer, making it even more frustrating.

The longer I spend looking for jobs the less I want one. It’s probably time to reignite that gangster rap career.

The value of paying attention at university

Or: why our degree show was rubbish

Photo research is officially at an all-time low, I may as well be using Shutterstock.

I had the strangest notion when I came to university. I arrived under the misbegotten belief that I would be entering an institution full of at least partly intelligent and interesting people. To qualify, while I knew what the university culture was I still expected that every single person there would have at least one subject (likely their chosen undergraduate course) that they demonstrated a sincere knowledge in. After all, why pay so much to come to university if you’re not going to use it?

Of course, this was a completely erroneous idea. The vast majority of students came to university for the social aspects, their £10,000 courses (obviously this has since increased) were secondary to this. As a result, most graduates walk away with many notches on their bedposts but little in the way of worthwhile qualifications.

I’m not bemoaning the student culture (entirely), I am well aware that that is the way of things and my reluctance to get involved was against the norm – but that did not develop within me an aloof attitude to that subculture, not at all. All I am say is: when the drinking and the rutting and the stewing become more important than the degree, then there’s a problem. Universities aren’t there to act as a staging ground for student fantasies, they are, despite outward appearances, a very real centre of learning.

I wrote about the importance of written subjects in design before, now I’m going to talk about how important using the course is as a whole. Again, regarding a design course, though I’m sure other courses are designed to give just as much value to their students.

If you were to attend the CSA degree show and wander into the box they call our gallery you would probably be able to pick out those that attended often or paid attention and those that did not without much trouble. The funny thing about design is that you don’t necessarily need any natural talent to succeed, but rather an awareness that you can convert into an awareness of space and colour and shape and all that. I certainly never had much in the way of talent, but rather arrived where I am today (a competent writer and designer, if nothing else) through continued hard work. Some people had it easier, some had it a bit harder, but an undergraduate design course is designed to ignore these deficiencies and give every student the same opportunity to flourish – they just have to want it.

At the CSA we have two well-known designers as tutors, Jon Melton and Will Hill, and they made excellent tutors. But most students chose not to tap into that reservoir of knowledge, instead they stayed isolated within social groups or tried to utilise the lesser tutors (who, I am sure, had their own things to offer, but they were never any help to me). The thing is, it showed.

The course was big on typography, as all design courses should be. But most students came away with a poor grasp on type. Looking at the degree show you wouldn’t have seen anything particularly interesting or innovative, even the design of the degree show’s promotional materials was typographically poor (and overall super-boring), to the point that the first year students commented on its poor quality. While this could have been playing safe for the final major project, the reality is that these students simply weren’t very good. Worse still, because of this, the design industry has to take in a lower quality of graduate, which then ruins it for the rest of us.

The CSA desgree show 2014 was titled “First Impressions”, our first impression was that it was shit.

So what’s going wrong? A perfect example is a fellow graduate of the CSA undergrad course who currently works with me – the lizard one. She is an awful designer, she has no sense of space, she doesn’t understand typography, she has no colour theory – fundamentally, she just doesn’t get it.

Why? She never listened. Our group critiques were fairly somber affairs, with only a few of us willing to offer criticism, otherwise it was up to our tutor to provide feedback for most projects. She presented to the group a book that was so poorly laid out that everyone in the room agreed with our tutor on the issues with it: pictures were poorly placed, text was laid out dreadfully, and there was no differentiation between text, headings, sub-headings, etc. Nothing was consistent, the book, in short, was a mess. This was fairly early in the project, with plenty of time to make the changes suggested. However, weeks later, she presented a book that was almost exactly the same.

Whether it was arrogance or simple stupidity that meant she didn’t follow our tutor’s advice, I do not know, but I am inclined to think it may be both. There was, however, a correlation between those students that came across as especially arrogant and those that didn’t seem to grasp the lessons we were being given. Of course, some were just bad, and some arrogant students kind of got it. But on the whole, that arrogance, and ergo an unwillingness to listen to authoritative criticism, led to a lack of skill and understanding that resulted in poor design.

There is no shame in being bad at something. I am really bad at a lot of things. Take tennis, I’m awful at tennis, I used to work at a summer camp in which eight year-old children would beat me, I’m just that bad. But it’s okay, I’m not bitter about it, I swear. However, I haven’t set myself on a career path involving tennis, I haven’t had respected tennis players offer me advice that I have spurned. I picked it up casually and wasn’t any good at it.

To take on a degree, and thus, as I said, set yourself on a career path relating to it, and ignore the advice and wisdom of those there to teach you and guide you is the mark of a fool. I started by talking about the social side of university and how it may draw some (read: most) away from academic dedication, and that surely contributes, but there is also a culture, it would seem, in which students simply do not have the insight to recognise the value of their own course. It’s sad and it is foolish, because you can gain so much from your course – I certainly did.

It’s not only the guidance of tutors one may miss out on by not paying attention or not attending, but also the relationships you forge in that time. I’m not talking about those social experiences everyone gets at university, but rather the connections. I still maintain contact with three or four of my tutors, both socially but also on a professional level. Similarly, at least a few of the people I knew at university may rise to fairly prominent positions in their careers that will later serve as important contacts for me. These are things that cannot be easily garnered outside of that environment.

In closing, I will again use my current job as an example. Not including my aforementioned colleague, in an office of nine, I am the only designer with a BA in graphic design, and it shows. It shows in the fundamentals and the principles that I have brought over from my undergraduate education. Simple things like typeface choices (e.g. not using the lowercase of Gill Sans – ever) and an irritation at the space-filling tendencies remain with me after months here, and yet those who don’t have that basic design training (the lizard girl included) are more at ease with it. The markers of the unqualified here are a poor understanding of typography – that results in a need to constantly use Helvetica – a poor understanding of space (though this occupation, in general, has something to do with this tendency to fill ALL space), and an over-reliance on over-rigid templates to the point of seeming unable to work without them.

Whether it be a cheap knock-off of Oh, Comely magazine, a poorly laid out book on horror films that didn’t make sense, or a typeface designed for dyslexic people that not even competent readers could decipher, the CSA degree show 2014 was a tremendous disappointment all round, mostly because the Graphic Design students failed to make the most of their time at university.

So, what is the distinction between the untrained designers and those that didn’t allow themselves to get the most out of their course? There is none, they are exactly the same. By ignoring the value of their university education, the lessons that could be learned, and the connections that could be made, they have made themselves no better than if they hadn’t gone at all. 

The Carolingian Minuscule

Or: Modernism in the making

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Pretty modern, right?

The 8th century was a period of much cultural activity in Europe. Headed by Charlemagne, the Continent saw an increase in the arts, literature, writing, liturgy, and scriptural studies. It was an attempt to recreate the Roman culture of the 4th century, and though most of the cultural gains of the period disappated after a few generations, some stand out as important steps towards the future. Principle among these was the standardisation of script across the empire: The Carolingian Minuscule.

The Carolingian Minuscule was an attempt at unification of communication. Conceived to be legible and recognisable to all within the literate class across the Holy Roman Empire, it attempted to create a clear, uniform, and legible letter style; to create an ideal that removed idiosyncrasies that changed from one scriptorium to another. It was an ideal that would later become one of the cornerstones of Modernist typography, and it could be argued that the Carolingian Minuscule was an early foray into universal type – or rather, universal hand.

Charlemagne himself was not a fully literate man, however, but he understood the value of literacy and a clear communication in running his empire. He spent much of his later life trying to learn to write and was alleged to have kept tablets beneath his pillow so that he could practice forming letters. It was, in the end, not a success for him, but this interest in learning and written communication resulted in conscious efforts on his part to revive the literate culture of Classical Rome, and under his patronage the Carolingian Minuscule was developed as a universal script for the Frankish empire.

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Charlemagne, emperor, culture-vulture, beard enthusiast.

The Merovingian and Germanic minuscules were already being remodeled around this time, with their forms being rendered neater, rounder, and simpler. It was out of these alterations, and with the influence of the Roman half uncial, that the Carolingian Minuscule arose. The script spread through Western Europe where Carolingian influence was at its strongest, even though many scriptoria retained certain individualities of style from their earlier minuscule scripts when adopting it. For instance, the English Carolingian used wedge shaped ascenders taken from the earlier insular minuscule script, rather than more rational forms of Charlemagne’s Carolingian.

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The English variant of Carolingian script.

Interestingly, institutions like the Carolingian chancery preferred the script for liturgy and chose to keep the calligraphic flourishes of the Merovingian chancery script for important legal documents and charters. It seems that clarity and legibility was regarded as less important for legal documents than for religious manuscripts.

However, in the 9th century, establishments using the Carolingian script adopted a more standardised form, abandoning the flourishes and ligatures that rendered their earlier styles prone to illegibility. In luxuriously produced Lectionaries that now began to be produced for princely patronage of abbots and bishops, legibility was essential and it is thought that the monastery at Tours may have been responsible for this standardisation due to the manuscripts it distributed to other monasteries.

Its reach was felt far afield with versions of the script appearing all over Europe. The first Roman-script recording of any Slavic language, the Freising manuscripts, were written in the Carolingian Minuscule. The Swiss adapted their own versions of the minuscule: the Rhaetian minuscule, a more slender script with ligatures such as “ri” and the Alemannic minuscule which was broader and more vertical than the Rhaetian script. It was used in Salzburg, Austria, and in Fuida, Mainz, and Würzburg in Saxon Germany. During Benedictine reforms in the 10th century England began to adopt the new legible hand.

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The Freising Manuscript.

However, outside the influence of Charlemagne the script was resisted. Rome developed the Romanesca type and this spread slowly over Papal Europe, eventually superseding cultural minuscules outside of the Carolingian influence.

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The form of the Carolingian Minuscule was a concise set of forms that rationalised aspects of the scripts that were muddying the written waters, like the nuances in size of capitals and long descenders. It created a more legible hand that any literate man in the empire could read, quickening communication and ensuring important messages were not lost in illegibility. However, some of the letterforms in Carolingian script differ significantly from our modern Latin characters, whether it be the liberal use of ligatures in early Carolingian script or now defunct characters (shown below).

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Common ligatures in the Carolingian Minuscule

More troubling for the modern eye are the abbreviations employed in Carolingian text in order to make manuscripts shorter (and cheaper, turns out scribes were tight). Simple words like aut would be shortened simply to ā and common words like Iesus would be abbreviated to iħs.

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Common abbreviations in Carolingian scripts

It is not inherently unreadable – indeed, by design, it is quite the opposite – it is just the way Latin was written at the time that presents difficulties to us. But thanks to the Carolingian Minuscule and the reforms around its development we have access to many texts that otherwise would have been forgotten. During the Carolingian Renaissance scholars found and copied in the new standard script many Roman texts that had been thought lost. It is from those copies that most of our knowledge of classical literature is derived from. Over seven thousand manuscripts survive from the scriptoria of Charlemagne alone.

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The Carolingian Minuscule eventually developed into another European standard, Gothic Blackletter. But during the Carolingian Renaissance the reforms of Charlemagne were responsible for the revival of a number of texts and the implementation of what can genuinely be considered a contender for the first real standard in typography.

It later experienced a revival when discovered by the humanists of the early Renaissance who took the Carolingian manuscripts to be ancient Roman originals and modelled their scripts on the Carolingian Minuscule. From this starting point it passed to 15th and 16th century printers and in doing so formed the basis for our modern lowercase typefaces.

 The Carolingian Minuscule was thoroughly Modernist type before it was cool to be Modernist. With its attempts to firstly rationalise the muddle of scripts floating around Europe and then its aim of becoming a standard across a whole, diverse empire, it is modern to the core. Considering a timeline that starts with Charlemagne’s reforms, one can see a linear progression from the Carolingian Minuscule, through Blackletter, all the way to the Grotesk that started appearing in the late 1800s in Germany. Farfetched as it might seem, the Carolingian Minuscule has a real claim to being the first step towards standardisation and the sans-serif, even if it looks far removed from our contemporary typefaces.

Scriptoria: the first design studios?

Or: how I found a picture of a lego scriptorium and wrote an article so I could use it.

You’d think that the idea of the design studio came about with, you know, the advent of graphic design – there’s a lot of conjecture about when this happened, but I tend to think of it as the point where typesetting and layout became the same job. The image is thus: a room full of tired, sweaty people, sitting at computers with a senior designer or project manager sitting somewhere amidst the mess directing traffic. But is this a new phenomenon?

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An example design studio (because I got lazy with my picture research).

Tracing our way back through history we come across the concept of the scriptorium. It’s a room, full of sweaty men, sitting at desks, likely with a head scribe directing the efforts. Sound familiar? The sad truth is that these rooms weren’t as common as some people think, but they did exist.

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A typical image of a scriptorium - complete with illuminated manuscripts.

In reality, rather than being permanent additions to every monastery, they were more likely temporary accompaniments to monastic libraries when it came time to restock the stacks, requiring a large number of copies to be made at the same time. Saying this, however, some institutions were at least semi-permanent. One example that springs to mind is the Carolingian scriptorium, to which we owe most of our knowledge about Classical literature.

A scriptorium was used more as a room for the storage and reading of manuscripts, a necessary adjunct to any library, and often you might find monks copying manuscripts in the cloisters. Though, in actuality, monks would usually copy manuscripts in their own cells, and scriptoria would only be used, as mentioned, when copies were in demand.

So perhaps the scriptorium as we imagine it didn’t exist in the volume that some histories may have us believe, but the notion is an old one. They stretched all the way back to the Byzantine period, where after the fall of the Roman Empire the Eastern Roman Empire kept the fires of learning lit. Numerous scriptoria opened across the empire throughout its history, copying numerous classical and Hellenistic manuscripts.

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Scribes in the cloisters

Scribes themselves probably kept their work to themselves, working in solitude in their cells, and while some professional scribes may have had designated rooms set aside for writing the chances are they just had a desk next to a window somewhere in their house. Really, rather than scriptoria being the first design studios, scribes were probably the original freelancers.

The dilution of the word “designer”

Or: I’m annoyed that I can’t find a job

Note: I nearly wrote “the dilation of the word “designer” which would have been a completely different article.

The word designer has become a bit of a catch-all term for anyone who works within the arts (and elsewhere, as we’ll see). We’re all used to the idea that a Sandwich Artist is a Subway employee, but imagine if EVERYTHING that vaguely involved art was titled “such and such artist” – could you handle looking for a job and having to wade through thirty or more jobs a-day that have the right name but have nothing to do with what you’re doing? Job searching is difficult enough without semantics making it difficult.

A job search for “designer” will give you results like: Mac operator, Media processer, Engineer, programmer, and best of all: “Kitchen Sales Designer” – which is a sales assistant at Homebase. The vast majority of results that pop up in Cambridge revolve around engineering and sciences, few of which actually call for a graphic designer (“cake designer” cropped up a couple of times, though I wasn’t qualified).

It’s funny, but it also makes me cry.

It’s a frustrating reality that, in order to reach as wider group of people as possible or make a position sound more important than it, employers will use fairly tenuously related terms such as “designer”, “artist”, “executive” for their low grade positions. So when I am looking for a position as a designer, I am bombarded with hundreds of results of which only two or three may be graphic design positions, and if I’m lucky one of those may be at my pay-grade.

"Search for ‘graphic designer’, then!" I hear you cry. I would, if employers would advertise for a graphic designer, but few do. “Designer” is in-vogue, and as a result my pool of viable jobs is becoming muddied and irritating.

Worst of all, however, is the trend for putting design and web development together within the same job description (often under “graphic designer” or “digital designer”). It is among the chief issues of the job searching designer. It’s that design part that’s the problem, there is a distinction between web design and web development. I design websites: I put together visuals, work out navigation diagrams, bring together a general concept that I then send of to a web DEVELOPER to put together. However, as far as anyone else is concerned, that means I code. If I tell someone not in the know what I do, more often than not their response is “oh, so you do websites and stuff”?

It’s an endemic issue within the design industry, as employers seek to save money, designers are being made to develop skills they shouldn’t need, at the cost of their talent. I trained to be a graphic designer, and I turned out to be a pretty good one at that. I decided not to compromise myself by adding skills that weren’t necessary. Things like illustration and type design came naturally, web development did not, nor should it, it’s a completely different profession. However, those “designers” who chose to pursue web dev. as well turned out to be pretty average at both (I use “average” loosely because I’m kind, and because I’ve ranted enough about how dreadful my course mates are despite a fine education).

It is, in curt words, an insult to expect a professional graphic designer to development web-based platforms, and yet we do. We already typeset, illustrate, manipulate images, and so much more, yet employers want to keep adding skills that they should hire someone else for, all under the umbrella term of “designer”. You don’t ask a mechanic to perform heart surgery, because they are entirely different professions. So are graphic design and web development. If you asked a sandwich artist to design a cake it would be outrageous, so why are designers expect to code websites?

The job market needs to codify and redefine the way it describes jobs, to avoid confusion and to stop employers making a mockery of qualifications we have worked hard to attain. Until then we are doomed to swim in a sea of misnomers.

GT Bunbury’s “rules” of writing

  1. Write: Just write. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you’re working. Just go ahead and write it. And if you can’t write, if it’s so much of a struggle that nothing will come out, make sure you’re in that space where you’d normally be writing. The important thing is to develop that habit of concentration.
  2. Following on from that habit of being in a working space no matter what: build up a routine. If you find you write better at night, do that, do it over and over. If you write best during your lunch breaks at work (like I currently do), then do that. But do it constantly. A lot of writers say you HAVE to write every day – and if you’re a professional writer, I guess you do – but it’s okay to miss a day here and there, so long as you have a routine in check. That routine might change, depending on moods and circumstances, and that’s okay too. I used to write solely in the very early mornings, then I changed to write only in the mornings when I got up, then only after sex (which is difficult when you’re as apathetic towards people as me), and now I tend only to write during lunch breaks at work and hourly periods during free days. It’s just important to set up that muscle-memory of creativity.
  3. Remove distractions: this means nothing you can pick up and do instead of writing. This includes your/a penis.
  4. Snack wisely. Your body and mind need glucose to fire, but eating a pack of biscuits or a whole cake with your tea/coffee may seem like a good idea but it’s just going to slow you down and make you lethargic. Your body is a temple, at least for those hours that you’re working.
  5. Write what you want. One day I might work on a novel, the next I might be working on a design article. I try to keep to one project at a time (i.e. I won’t be working on multiple pieces of fiction in the same time period, and if I do diverge into something else it will generally be during editing) but sometimes you just have to get something down.
  6. Read. Everyone says it, and it’s true. Make sure you read, as it helps you come to terms with how to write and get you into that creative space. I’ll add to this that films and video games are actually good assets to this too, so long as you don’t indulge to excess, an hour and a half of a film or game might spark an idea after all.
  7. Drink lots of water. It’s a no-brainer.
  8. Relax. Creativity, as John Cleese said, is fundamentally the mind at play. Being tense and treating it like work will make it boring and dull your mind. Have fun with it.
  9. Know what you’re writing. If you’re writing about something, make sure you know what you’re talking about. For instance, if you’re writing about the Napoleonic Wars, read up about it. If you’re writing about a high-flying lawyer in charge of a murder trial, research it. If you’re writing about Around the World in Eighty Days, make sure you’re aware there’s no hot air balloon in it!
  10. Write ugly. The muse is a fickle bitch, so don’t sit and wait for inspiration. Just write dirty, get those ugly paragraphs out there, you can always edit it later. Writer’s block doesn’t actually need to get in the way if you just apply yourself.
  11. Drink some more water.
  12. Be yourself. Don’t try to copy someone else, you have your own voice so dig deep and use it.
  13. Don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes you’ll write poorly, sometimes it’ll be hard work, and sometimes you’ll be too ill. But that’s the process, you have to fight your way through to the good days. The bad days are there to teach you how not to work.

(Source: gtbunburywrites)

Space-saving measures in Medieval manuscripts

Or: it turns out monks were tight

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Can you read it?

The root of the word manuscript is very literal: manu (by hand) script (written). Of course, this word has now been diluted to mean any body of written work and as a designer every Word document you receive is labelled “xxx-xxx MANUSCRIPT”. But in the Medieval period manuscript really meant written by hand.

Monks (being one of the few literate classes of the time) would spend their entire lives as scribes, working in a scriptorium – a special room or building at the monastery for the copying of texts – where they would be trained to write in a particular script (something like the house style) and then spend months and years copying out manuscript after manuscript. Pens were made of quill and dipped in ink made from blackthorn and wine, and texts were copied onto parchment made from sheepskin.

But within these scripts – and Latin in general – one can find a number of now defunct characters and quirks; quirks that can be daunting for those who read Latin but aren’t familiar with certain scripts and completely alien to non-Latin readers. Ligatures varied from one scriptorium to another, as could individual characters, as did letterforms as many scriptoriums had their own variation on a script, if not their own script entirely. An effort was made to rationalise these scripts by Charlemagne in the 8th century with the introduction of the Carolignian Minuscule* to the Frankish empire, but even that had its own set of anomalies that would be unreadable to the modern eye.

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An illustration of common letterforms and ligatures in the Carolignian Minuscule and the modern equivalents.

But perhaps more daunting is the general style manuscripts were written. You see, parchment was an expensive material, so a scribe would, at every opportunity, attempt to save space on the page to avoid using to much of the stuff!

For instance, the modern reader is used to having more separation between words than between individual letters. However, in late antiquity books were written with all letters equally spaced, so there were no spaces to indicate where one word ended and another began. Words were separated in this instance by reading the text aloud.

Things were more familiar in the Medieval period with words separated much as they might be now, but short words – especially prepositions (e.g. in, per, pro, ab, etc.) – were frequently joined to the following word rather than left hanging.

But scribes didn’t stop there, not at all. To make copying faster and books even shorter scribes would abbreviate short or common words into the bare minimum of characters, rendering a word that resembled its longer form enough to be deciphered, but coming into an abbreviated manuscript for the first time could be a daunting task!

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A list of abbreviations found in Medieval manuscripts – and these are just the common ones!

In the period these facets were so commonplace that they likely caused little or no problems to readers, especially once the Carolignian Minuscule was introduced and handwriting across large areas was standardised. But today it makes an already difficult and archaic writing system even more challenging for the modern eye.

And why? It was to save money. Much as a modern publisher may look to cut down on the number of pages to send to a printer to save some cash, so too did Medieval scriptoriums try to reduce the length of their manuscripts in order to make for smaller, cheaper books. And when you were the only ones that could read the books you wrote, why wouldn’t you?

*a longer article on the Carolignian Minuscule, including some of the points in this article, will follow shortly…

"Springer-type"

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A specimen cover for A.M. Cassandre’s Peignot.

Like Systemschrift, Peignot is a typeface that is unreadable due to being illegible, but rather from being something contrary to what the eye expects. Cassandre’s face uses an idiosyncratic blend of lower and upper case in its “lowercase” variant. Uppercase characters within this multi-case ware given extended ascenders and descenders to better relate to their lower case counterparts. The “h” is a perfect example, where the reduced capital h has its left-hand vertical extended into an ascender, as you might expect to find in its lowercase variant. It is contrary to what the eye expects while trying to be exactly what the eye expects – it’s strange like that.

It is one of the more unique typefaces to arise since Systemschrift ten years before. Cassandre intended it to be used within text and was disappointed when it wasn’t adopted as such, but it found some popularity as a poster face and was used most notably as the typeface for the Jerry Springer Show for a number of seasons – it’s always been known to me as Springer type from this first introduction. Otherwise, however, it wasn’t a particularly successful face. Steve Harrison of Falk Harrison described it as a “grab bag of ascenders and descenders in an all-cap font- like the “lower case” letters want to be capital letters when they grow up” – and there are many who would echo those sentiments.

It isn’t a particularly versatile or attractive typeface and I don’t know that I would ever use it commercially, but as with Systemschrift I enjoy it for being a little different. It might not be a particularly attractive typeface – and it suffered from being released a decade before International Swiss Style emerged – but it’s interesting, if a little hard on the eyes.

(edit: this typeface can actually be seen in recent film A Most Wanted Man, used as titling for a bar that appears a few times).

Why full-time work CAN be good for you

Even if my full-time work isn’t

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I left four months ago and I haven’t gone back since.

People often complain about having to work full-time hours (myself included, like you wouldn’t believe). “The weekends aren’t long enough”, “I really wish I could work three days-a-week instead”, “I just want to sleep!” are just a few of the comments I frequently hear about work. And, hey, I’m right there with them. Weekends are too short, I barely have time to recuperate, let alone have a social life, before I’m right back at work again – we do seem to be working ourselves to oblivion. This sort of lifestyle is especially difficult when you have a particularly unrewarding or uninspiring job.

However, full-time work, of all kinds, can have its benefits and positives. I, for one, enjoy having something I have to get up for in the morning – even if most of the time I don’t want to – and the routine is a valuable part of my everyday life. Knowing where I’m going to be and what I’m going to be doing five days-a-week is good, it means that I don’t end up wasting days sitting around – and when I am wasting days by being at work when I could be somewhere else, it’s somebody else’s fault.

What’s more, the people are so much better than the kind you find in part-time work. I used to work weekends at a Paperchase outlet here in Cambridge while I was at university and it was easily the worst job – and almost experience – of my life. Not only did I work all week at school to then have to work the other two in a shop, but the people I worked with were, on the whole, dreadful.

My manager was dreadful, unable to organise a thing, constantly critical without accenting it with any praise. She never set any sort of example for us, or helped out, she just stood at the door staring at men and making inappropriate noises that everybody could hear. All my fellow part-timers tended to be at least four years younger than me, so conversation was at a minimum and often revolved around clubbing. You never heard praise, no one cared if you were doing well, and the smallest mistakes were made an example of. As one of their better-liked staff (by the customers) I was perhaps in the firing line more often, for no reason other than the shop being run by especially insecure people. When I was finally able to leave I was incredibly relieved to be out of such a poisonous atmosphere.

In full-time work it’s not so. The people are, on the whole, lovely. I am talking about other sectors, I’m sure becoming a full-time Paperchaser wouldn’t have suddenly made my manager any better. There’s a good deal of positive criticism knocking around, and only when it’s warranted, and when it’s bad it’s delivered carefully with a mind not to be too hard (sometimes). Fundamentally, there is just a better atmosphere in a full-time job than there is in part-time or temporary work – in my experience at least.

At the time of writing I am sitting in my office in soaked clothes, freezing, on the verge of a cold because I have to cycle five miles to work – often in the rain - to arrive at my dreary job that kills creativity and I’d still rather be here than back in part-time work.