Shapes for Sounds
Why Alphabets Look Like They Do
By Timothy Donaldson
(Mark Batty Publisher, Paperback, 9781935613435, 176pp.)
Publication Date: January 2012
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Shapes for sounds examines one of humankind's fundamental creations: alphabets. In a culture that is overrun by the image, it is easy to forget that alphabets are the origin of gleaning understanding through images. Typographer, graphic designer, and teacher Timothy Donaldson has compiled a history of the Latin alphabet, consolidating his research into twenty-six informative and innovative charts that make clear how individual letters have come to exist as we know them today. "This book," says Donaldson, "attempts to show the genesis and evolution of the most popular alphabet, alongside development of its close relatives."
From ancient calligraphic traditions to semaphore, barcodes, and binary code, Shapes for sounds serves as a unique synthesis of many related disciplines that until now have never been fused together in this fashion, ensuring that the book will be of interest to linguists, typographers, designers, sociologists, historians, and anyone that loves to read.
Timothy Donaldson is a letterworker. He developed an obsessive interest in drawing during his first decade, which matured into another obsession with writing (still drawing) during his second one. During his third decade he was a journeyman signwriter, earning his crust in pursuit of the just forming of letters. By his fourth decade he dropped "signwriter" and started to use a grander phrase, "lettering artist," to describe himself. He is well known for large scale performances that explore the convergence of group narratives, divergent orthographies, semiotics, and action drawing. He performs and lectures internationally, designs typefaces, and contributes to the global corpus of critical graphic design writing. He currently teaches in the beautiful seaside surroundings of University College Falmouth, in Cornwall, where he attempts to trace a meaningful path between the history, theory and practice of graphic design.