Curtis Canham struggled as a design student. In school, he learned “that good taste did not always equate to a good design,” as he writes on his Kickstarter page. Now a graphic design professor at The College of Saint Rose, in Albany, Canham wants to teach the next generation the important nuances of their chosen field. So he has created a cheeky book that examines typography through the lens of negative space. It’s called A-holes: A type book.
A-holes was inspired by the amusing double entendre of the phrase “A-holes”–the technical term for the negative space in a letter A (this space can also be called a “counter”). Letters’ negative space might seem irrelevant, but it determines a lot about the character of a font. As Canham’s book shows, the shape of a hole can tell you if a font is a serif or sans serif, and it can tell you where elements like the stroke, crossbar or bowl are located. Holes are like a traceable pattern, giving you clues about a typeface without seeing it.
Though Canham knew his idea would make for a fun coffee table book, he also wanted it to be an educational tool for learning about type. He includes sections on “A-hole Anatomy” (labeling the parts of a typeface) and “Historic A-holes” (a timeline of the negative spaces in fonts over the past 200 years). Canham is seeking $7,500 on Kickstarter. Preview the book here.