Ever since she was a little kid, Lynne Garell has been fascinated by letterforms. She used to make her own greeting cards, which she sold to family members for 25 cents. At some point, her dad visited the advertising office at the town’s newspaper, and came home with style sheets for about 20 typefaces. She started copying the typefaces and using them on her cards. At about the same time, she started practicing calligraphy.
As a graphic design major in college, Lynne continued the exploration of type and often was the only student to use letterforms to solve problems posed by various design projects. After college, while working at a design studio in San Francisco, she was going through old design magazines, and found a reference to the courses taught by Hermann Zapf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. That sounded cool, so she packed up everything she owned and took off to get her master’s at RIT. Lynne took both of the classes that Herr Zapf taught, one on calligraphy and one on typefaces. He was famous for asking his students to render 12-point Palatino using only a ballpoint pen. In the wonderful Cary Library, Zapf opened a whole new world for Lynne: exploring wondrous books like the Gutenberg Bible and the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.
Graphic design students at RIT were strongly encouraged to use Helvetica for virtually everything, which pretty much made it so Lynne hasn’t used Helvetica in the 20 years since. Instead, she researched font designs for computer display, and her thesis work was the development of a low-resolution display font named Alice.
After graduate school, Lynne was employed in the type department of Adobe Systems, where she became a typographic voyeur. She worked with many type designers, calligraphers, book designers, and other luminaries from the design world, helping them to bring new type designs to the market. She also found time to incorporate her love of maps into an Adobe Original design named Carta.
Lynne’s primary role at Adobe was as Type Evangelist, educating people about the history and use of typefaces. Picture a stop sign, with the authoritative word “stop” written in no-nonsense sans serif type. Now picture the same sign with “stop” written in script. It looks like the sign is issuing an invitation to stop, for those who might care to stop. It’s an important distinction. A similar illustration is the front page of the Wall Street Journal. There is an extremely recognizable look to the page, a look that changes dramatically when the name of the newspaper is set in a different typeface. Audiences that had never thought about the expressiveness and social conventions of type found these sorts of illustrations to be both fun and informative.
Lynne’s interest in type and letterforms continues. In the movie theater, she has to identify the typeface used for the movie credits; she just can’t stop herself.