Apostrophic Laboratories


Life Is A Series Of Letter Forms

Este es el artículo original que me envió Apostrophe para su inclusión en el libro. Thank you very much!

Life Is A Series Of Letter Forms

By Fredrick Nader

I was a teenager when I first fell in love with letter forms. Now that I am asked to go back in time and address students who remind me of myself during that time, I feel that I am getting a second chance at making myself. In the face of such an abstract opportunity, most people would give in to regret and say they would have done things differently. But not me. Not when it comes to letter forms. I do have a few regrets - everyone does - but my love of type is something that I willfully repeat everyday, with a passion that I hold for not many other things.

Life is a series of letter forms. Make no mistake about it. 99% of everything you do involves letter forms. Everywhere you look there are letter forms. On your calendar, on the packaging of the food you eat, on your money, on your clothes, on the shampoo bottle that you use in the shower, on the car that takes you to point B, on the street signs, on the stores you visit, on your favourite television show... Most people even think in words, combinations of letter forms. Imagine a world without letters. Whether or not you like it, or are consciously aware of it, your life is largely dependent on the very letters you have learned by heart since you were a child. This shouldn't scare you. This should only make it easier for you to understand that you are already prepared for this world, this age of information.

My fascination with the alphabet started when I was 16 years old. The reason for my fascination was mostly what I described in the previous paragraph. It was the full understanding that nothing and nobody in my life will have more influence on me than words and letters. From simple fascination with the overwhelming spread of letters, I progressed to studying their influence, their history, their flow in different languages, their everything. Even after all these years of studying letters and giving them new clothes of my own creation, the fascination is still there. This is a fascination that I wish on everyone in the world. I don't really have much to say after this, except maybe repeat myself in different ways.

The question I am most frequently asked is this: “Why do you give your fonts away for nothing?” I suppose this is as honest and complicated a question as it can possibly get. My answer is usually this: “This is the alphabet. Nobody owns the alphabet.” Of course this can trigger a huge discussion about what humanity collectively owns, and such a discussion would have people firing at each other from either side, but the reality of it is this simple belief of mine: humanity, all of humanity, owns the alphabet. Or at least it's ideally supposed to own it, just like it's supposed to own freedom.

We are living in an information age. This coined expression, Information Age, really understates the situation of the world. Information is now by far the most expensive and widely circulated commodity in our world. People sell not only information, but also the way it is presented on the page. And the way it is transmitted. And the format of its transmittal. And the way it is used. And so on... This sort of situation, pretty much like any other situation in history, can also be subject to major debates about what's good or bad about it. Some would say that selling information is actually making life easier on humanity, since nobody has to absolutely earn their living by sweating and labouring, and some would say that information should essentially be free for a variety of reasons, like the fact that information advances the collective capacity of humanity and enlightens people into bettering their lives, and some people would even bring up cynical perspectives with memories of bad times in history, when governments and armies controlled information and made sure to keep it away from the people. At any rate, the information age is here to stay, and we have no choice but to live with it.

One major part of this information age is something called the internet, the information superhighway, where information about almost everything is stored and accessed via a worldwide network. To me, the internet is like my old school's library, where I used to spend a lot of time studying different subjects. The internet is a much larger library, of course. It's the biggest library in the world. Anyone with an internet connection can visit the library and find exactly the kind of information needed. This is a very optimistic perspective I have of the internet, of course. I hope I can keep this perspective for a long time, but the odds are against me, I suppose.

The first few years of the internet were peaceful and technical. Then came progress and started devouring the original concept. Now there isn't much of the original concept left. Well, there is some stuff left, but one would have to search really hard for it among the million teeth of commerce and trash. Someone once told me that I could measure how content people are by the way they behave. If they were always asking for something more, they couldn't possibly be happy with what they have; and if they never asked for anything, one can safely deduce that they are at least content with what life has given them. When I first heard that point of view, tears came to my eyes because I thought of how difficult it must be to find happy people in the world these days. And of course, that sort of sentimentalism always ends up with the impossible wish that we were able to make everyone happy. The only reply to such impossibility is this: “You can't make everyone happy, but you can at least try to make some people happy.”

So there it is, friends and neighbours. The reason I give my fonts to people is simply because I want to make them happy. If the font I create ends up making someone's words look good enough to satisfy them, it makes me feel good. Would money make me feel good? Of course it would, since I would use it to buy things, but things that I buy cannot make me feel as good as seeing someone using my letters to make themselves or someone else happy. If visiting apostrophiclab.com makes you happy even for one minute, my magic has worked and our transaction was even.

What does the future hold for apostrophiclab.com. I really don't know. I'd like to keep doing what I like doing forever, but this is of course an unrealistic projection. I'm at the mercy of the difference between fiction and reality. In fiction everything is linear and means something, while in reality things can come out of the blue to curve our existence one way or another. Life is full of surprises, and that's a good thing.

Enjoy yourself, be happy, and do your best to help others.

Fredrick Nader

aka Apostrophe