If Steve Jobs had not attended Portland’s Reed College in 1972 and been influenced by calligrapher Lloyd Reynolds, would computer users have have had the choice of so many fonts, from early on? I don’t think so! The shadow that Lloyd Reynolds cast on the cultural life of Reed College and Portland, Oregon, was immense, and it must have effected Jobs. I know, because I grew up in Portland, and it effected me. I got caught up in the study of calligraphy for one important year of my life.
It was in the ’60s and I was a sophomore in college, attending Portland State College and not happy about it, after spending freshman year at Stanford University. (That is another story I won’t go into now, but involves me attending a sit-in at the capitol building in Sacramento, demonstrating for the first Fair Housing Bill in the state, and my parents not being happy about that.) To quote song lyrics, “it eased my troubled mind,” that year, to practice italic calligraphy in the evening.
The acknowledged master of the art form in Portland at that time, and maybe the nation, was Lloyd Reynolds, so I used his workbook. It was a struggle to attempt to form to the letters and match Reynolds’ examples. I would dip the pen tip in the ink bottle, try to have the pen tilt at a 45 degree angle, copy the example, and not press to hard or too soft as I executed each letter. Writing calligraphy was so calming, because I couldn’t think of anything else while doing it!
In the tributes to Steve Jobs after his passing yesterday, I heard how he wanted a variety of fonts added to Apple computers at some point, and concluded that he had been influenced by his short time at Reed College and Lloyd Reynolds’ classes there. Whatever the reason for the array of font choices we have on computers today, it makes our computer experience so much richer!
Here is a link to Lloyd Reynolds demonstrating his craft: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nevyE-yFWe0&feature=related, which says that Reynolds did influence Jobs in the creation of the Macintosh.