Thursday, September 29, 2016

Interview With Author Alex White

Listening to Type: Making Language

1. What inspired you to write your book?
I love typography and I want more designers to understand how spoken and written language are connected. Listening to Type: Making Language Visible connects spoken and written language so typography becomes more logical and perhaps a little less intuitive.

2. What is it about?
This book is about typography, the one element that separates graphic designers from all other designers. It takes great sensitivity to messages and meanings for typography to enhance a message rather than merely deliver it.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
“I see with greater sensitivity, I think more clearly, I spent my time wisely when I read the book, and I spent my money wisely when I bought the book.”

4. What advice do you have for writers?
To me, writing is an act of discovery and self-education. It is less an act of showing off what I already know. My work is both as an author and as a professor of graphic design and design management. This is my eighth book, so I have some experience with writing as an activity. Ernest Hemingway is credited with having said, “The most important attribute for an author to have is a built in, shock-proof shit detector.” For sure it sounds like Hemingway. Writing takes time. My writing is done inside four hours a day, every day I am not at the university. It takes me a while to get the train (a book, a chapter, a section) moving, and I energetically protect the momentum I struggle to develop. It is easier to keep the train moving than it is to get it moving repeatedly. I write and design my books simultaneously, happily allowing the process of composing books lead me. That sense of discovery is what motivates me to keep coming up with ideas for books. One more bit of advice: if you don’t have the self discipline to force yourself to think every day (because writing is pure thinking), don’t even start. Though it looks like goofing around to outsiders – and believe me, I do get easily distracted in my research process, but that’s me teaching myself new things – writing is the toughest, most rewarding activity I can engage in.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I do not know, but it may be selling books by the chapter online. Concentration to read, let alone absorb, a whole book is dwindling. Complex ideas are harder to sell than simple ideas. That doesn’t mean books should be dumbed down, but ideas need to be more clearly explained. And greater clarity is a hard commodity to come by without losing important parts of an idea.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
Preserving writing time from other parts of life. It has to be a priority for me and for my wife, who truly appreciates the self-discipline and effort it takes to spend in the office on off days from the university where I teach and run a graduate program in design management.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Listening to Type: Making Language Visible is unlike any other book on typography or design they own. It explains things so the reader’s thinking will change. It has lots of pretty pictures of design, like other books on the subject, to inspire (or copy), but the attending captions and text in this book empower the designer to adopt new ways of designing. Intentionally trying new ideas – new design processes – produces new results, and fresh design is every reader’s goal, isn’t it?

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

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