Jan Tschinchold is one of the most influential typographers of the 20th century and his story holds a fascinating tale about the ever-changing perspective of design and the quest for perfection.
Pioneering ‘the new typography’, Tschinchold was a leader in the change from serif fonts and centered book layout in favour of the new modern, sans-serif, and uniform book design. His debut book disrupted the classical form of graphic design and across the world designers embraced this new Bauhaus-inspired approach almost overnight.
Tscinchold was also an accomplished writer and academic teacher, examining the science behind typography in a quest to find the perfect way to visually convey text and imagery together.
We talk about graphic design and its history on a general level during the course and examine Tschinchold’s early work to use this style to inform our designs. Find out more about the driving principles of Jan Tschinchold’s style of typography today.
Jan Tschincholds Early Career
Born to a signmaker in Leipzig Germany 1902, from a young age Tschinchold practised different forms of calligraphy and went on to study at the Leipzig Academy of Graphic Arts and Book Production from 1919 to 1921. This gave him a real edge in comparison to other typographers, who typically came from an architectural or fine arts background. Which is encouraging for many budding designers out there as you will always have something unique to bring to the table!
Jan Tschichold and Bauhaus
In 1923, Tschichold discovered the Bauhaus art school and was acquainted with several notable artists from the movement. Inspired, Tschinchold went on to become an advocate of this modern approach to typography in his lectures across Europe. Five years later, he published “Die Neue Typographie / The New Typography”, which is still regarded as an important graphic design resource today.
Almost overnight, designers shunned the classical form of typography (which was typically centered and serif), in favour of bold, asymmetric designs that combined imagery and sans serif typography.
Tschichold’s quest to find the perfect form of typography led him down many paths and one notable source of inspiration came again from the Bauhaus school of art. László Moholy-Nagy, who taught at the school, developed the concept of ‘typophoto’ – the idea that typography is audio communication displayed through type in the same way photographs are visual communication displayed through imagery.
Jan Tschichold used this theory to argue that the sans serif font was the only font that could truly complement photographic imagery. In 1935, Tschinchold published ‘Asymmetrical Typography’ which is the cornerstone of our own typographic philosophy.
Here is a basic breakdown of Jan Tschinchold’s principles taken from his book Asymmetrical Typography:
- Do not use centered type, as it is an inflexible style and nonfunctional.
- Always use a sans serif font as we aim for simplicity and therefore require a simple clear typeface.
- Use asymmetrical arrangements because they are better suited to the practical and aesthetic needs of today.