Added : July 18, 2009

Last Updated: April 26, 2012

Topic: Typography

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TOPIC / Typography

Oded Ezer: The Typographer's Guide to the Galaxy book

Oded Ezer: The Typographer's Guide to the Galaxy book

This first monograph for graphic designer and typographer Oded Ezer explores the rich fusion of historic research, Israeli culture, calligraphy, classic typography, experimentation, storytelling, and science which come into play within his unique body of work. Ezer breaks conventions of traditional typography and often explores letterforms within a 3-dimensional space, sometimes with scientific precision.

    “...Like scientists, typeface designers sometimes need to blow some steam. Ezer in particular felt the need to escape the exactitude of type design, but also the obsessive goal-orientation typical of the Israeli educational system. That is how he came to live a double life, as a successful commercial designer on one hand and as a pilgrim on a “path to the unknown,” as he calls it, on the other...”  —excerpt from foreword by Paola Antonelli

    “...His physical handling of the letterforms reveals both a tenacity and delicacy, as though he were spinning glass, pounding metal in foil, or throwing pizza dough. There is give and stretch, but no breakage in his deliberate manipulation. It looks like fun, but the beauty of the results assures us that it is work...” —excerpt from foreword by Marian Bantjes

(above spread shows Homage to Milton Glaser)

Born in Ramat Gan, growing up and living in Israel was very influential to who Oded Ezer is as a person and as a graphic designer. It is interesting to read how serving in the Israeli Army helped cultivate his creativity and begin his career as a designer.

    “The most famous and established singers of the country started their careers in the army and that is also where I started out as a graphic designer...Right after military service, I went to the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design...I took the entrance exams still wearing my uniform...”
    —excerpt from A Conversation between Oded Ezer and Kitty Bolhöfer found within Oded Ezer: The Typographer's Guide to the Galaxy

Another inspiring aspect of Oded Ezer is how he balances his day-time commercial work that pays the bills, with the self-initiated experimental projects reserved for the late evening. (a highlight was reading that his childhood home was near the Elite chocolate factory and how this inspired him to appropriate the original Elite logo to form a logo stamp for his “nocturnal” designs).
Oded Ezer: The Typographer's Guide to the Galaxy provides thought provoking text sprinkled throughout, shining light on Ezer's thought processes while putting an emphasis on examining the environment from which he draws inspiration and flourishes. The monograph published by Gestalten gives heavy focus to Oded Ezer's portfolio, from early student projects to commercial client work to experimental studies. It also provides a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of the modern Hebrew alphabet and the challenges of shaping Israel’s early graphic identity. Oded Ezer’s designs are often a delicate balance of honoring the religious and cultural heritage of the Hebrew language, and at the same time pushing boundaries by injecting life and imagination into the letterforms.

    “...The need for a definition of a Jewish national identity grew with the waves of Jewish immigrants who arrived in Israel on the eve of World War II. During and after the war, among the thousands of refugees who arrived in Israel, were letter designers whose creations were part of a national identity that was coming into being. The design of new Hebrew fonts met the practical need of local economic life, commerce and of secular cultural life that started to flourish in big cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Designers such as Franziska BaruchMoshe SpitzerEliyahu Koren and Zvi Narkiss represent, in their attitude, an evolutionary approach that advocates a continuity in the form of the Hebrew letter over hundreds of years...” —Yehuda Hofshi, excerpt from Fonts: Evolution vs. Revolution essay within Oded Ezer: The Typographer's Guide to the Galaxy

After reviewing this book, there are many aspects of Oded Ezer’s background, process and ideologies that have peaked my interest. It isn’t until reading this monograph that one can fully appreciate the complexities behind Oded Ezer’s thinking and designs, and begin to understand the challenges for a typographer designing with a language so ingrained in a country’s religious and cultural history.

I'll leave off with a video interview with Oded Ezer from Gestalten.tv:

(book is available for purchase via Amazon)


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