Early Symptoms of Type Nerd Syndrome (TNS)

April 20, 2008

Following is from an e-conversation about suffering from Type Nerd Syndrome (TNS).


Herewith please find attached evidence of Type Nerd Syndrome. Last Friday Jen McNight, visiting artist, assistant professor at University of Missouri-Saint Louis, Daniela Marx, tenured professor of graphic design at Loyola University New Orleans and I gamboled and frolicked in this field of type like three kittens playing with a ball of string.

We each found ourselfs nearly prostrate photographing the architectural type being installed in the Loyola library; we photographed each other photographing the type, videoed and laughed, we are hoping to make a presentation with the captures for TypeCon 2009. (I began to wonder if this was some symptom of a serious illness of which we should be aware.)


Type Nerd Syndrome (TNS) is a condition which usually starts with a sharp blow to the head – physical or chemical – during adolescence.

The symptoms are usually mistaken for OCD in non-creative people. In professionals it often earns the afflicted nicknames like ‘Font Police’, ‘Font Cop’, ‘Font Nazi’ or even…. shudder…. ‘Type Director’.


Now this all makes sense. When I was young I used to climb all over the gym sets in our collective back yards, there were three families sharing this strip of land that the dad’s made into a playground replete with sand and a big “jungle gym” made out of that heavy steel piping, as well as some store bought swing sets and various other climb-upon things that I don’t see much anymore (probably because of insurance issues.)

I used to climb up to the top of the big, pipe-metal one and hang upside down from it off of my knees. One day i do recall landing on my head rather than swinging, guess my knees decided to play a funny trick on me resulting in a sharp blow to the head. Guess it all started for me there.


heh – yeah that’d do it for sure. For me it was hearing the phone ring upstairs while practicing my drums. Thinking it could be ‘for me’, and quite possibly an ‘adoring fan’ – I dropped the sticks, jumped over a box, leapt for the 3rd stair only to be stopped cold in my tracks by a low hanging radiator pipe to the head. The phone kept ringing – at least I think it was the phone – as I crumpled to the floor. All the people I’ve asked, who are ‘into type’, have related similar stories…. Even Chuck Bigelow whose experiences were less traumatic and suffered over a period of time in art college


2 Responses to “Early Symptoms of Type Nerd Syndrome (TNS)”

  1. mysticbluesigns Says:

    Nancy–You two got it all wrong, being dropped on your head only triggers a latent genetic predisposition to this uncontrollable defective behavior–I have it on the best authority that your OFFSPRING will inherit the tendency, although there is some question as to whether it can skip a generation, like baldness. My condolences to the families.
    PS Nancy You KNOW I can’t use this machine–I have no idea how to do this, so forgive me if I screwed it up, but I have to tell you how much I’ve been enjoying the links on your website!

  2. eve,

    hmmmmm. i will need to pass this on to steve matteson, who, as it happens, just left buffalo where we are/where both for a type conference. i wish i had read this 2 days ago so i could present this new theory to the group.

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