Talk:FF Meta

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ff meta[edit]

delete for lack of citations?! There are none in the article currently. I provided a Url which shows a copy of the drawings done by barney. As for the fact, if you care to substantiate, why not drop an email to Gerry at sedley place, and ask him, for the sake of historical accuracy. Next time you revert, why not offer discussion? There's a whole page for that too. Or are you too self-righteous for that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:53, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Meta authorship[edit]

Hello User:, our discussion should take place here. Your recent edits to the FF Meta article suggest that someone named Gerry Barney is the originator of the Meta design. As the edits were without citation and I had at hand references that contradict your claim, they seem clearly to be conjecture or new research and therefore no requirement for discussion. More pressing was your unsubstantiated and quite serious charge of plagiarism. I have checked Neil Macmillan's An A–Z of Type Designers. Ron Eason and Sarah Rookledge's Rookledge's International Directory of Type Designers, Frederich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott, and Bernard Sein's Typography: an Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design, and Robin Dodd's From Gutenberg to Open type. In none of them does mention of Gerry Barney as a designer occur. Neither is there mention of any dispute of authorship of FF Meta's design. Spiekermann is listed as design collaborator with Just van Rossum, Ole Schåafer, and Christian Schwartz. For a wikipedia editor to contact Mr. Barney would constitute original research. We must cite reputable third-party sources. If Spiekermann has infringed upon Barney, a legal court, not wikipedia, is the place to present those claims. CApitol3 (talk) 21:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Gerry Barney and FF Meta[edit]

I beg to differ with your point of view. Contacting Gerry Barney would be obtaining information from a primary source, which is encouraged. Also, the source is verifiable. Although I understand that personal experience cannot be used in the article proper, I have talked with Barney, and I have seen the artwork that he has done.

In Spiekermann's CV, he mentions that he was working in London as a free-lancer during the time that Meta was designed. The company that he was working for was Sedley Place Ltd, where he was responsible for digitising fonts from original artwork. Gerry Barney, one of the directors of the company, would have been working closely with him as well as the rest of the team.

Spiekermann's argument, as I understand it, was that the ideas behind Meta were his - namely that it could work both small and large. However, the actual implementation was by Gerry Barney, who is a prolific designer. I hope that you visit the following URL (indicating the work done for the Bundespost as mentioned in this article) - Bundespost (German Post Office) . The URL shows an actual photograph of something that Spiekermann never actually held - the original artwork of the FF Meta font, as drawn by Gerry. Do you not think it is remarkable that Sedley Place - a renowned design house - should have a photograph of this font, if they had nothing to do with it? Surely Spiekermann should be concerned at such a violation of HIS copyright if this article were correct?!

The Sedley Place Ltd website explicitly claims to have designed the typeface for Bundespost ( see the 1984 entry in the flash movie ) - What is your opinion of that?

Sedley Place chose not to take Spiekermann to court. This does not mean that he was not involved in falsifying the significance (or lack of it) regarding the design of FF Meta. Those of us who have spoken to the Gerry and the other directors know the truth, certainly as they see it. And their truth is significantly different from the claims made by Spiekermann.

Of course his fame is more or less (and rather embarrassingly) founded on the success of FF Meta, so it IS a much bigger issue than that of merely who authored this typeface. In my opinion it has to be one of the worst cases of design fraud of the twentieth century.

So - what I wrote in the article was that there IS some controversy over the authorship of the typeface. The Sedley Place website demonstrates that. It is a fact that this controversy is present, and does not represent original research. Gerry still works at the company, and he is a friendly, and affable man (though somewhat of a technophobe) - why not e-mail him or phone him and find out from a primary source? (talk) 22:53, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

No, interviewing an individual constitutes new research. It does not belong here. Articles on wikipedia require third-party verification from an existing published source. Gerry Barney does not show up in standard references on twentieth century typographers or punch-cutters. It is no surprise that Spiekermann, a major figure of typography, has detractors. For this to have legs you will need to find a neutral source. The aforementioned are authored by people seemingly with a grudge. Personal grievances do not have a place in a wikipedia article. If you can cite a neutral third-party account of a court action it could belong here. Are you involved with the subject of the article? I am curious why you find this important. CApitol3 (talk) 01:58, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
Well, there you go - there is always a distinction between truth and wiki-truth. Your response reminds me of an incident in which the interpretation by a literary critic of an author's text (it was Dylan Thomas) was considered by academics to be more correct than the author's own assertion. Typical academic arrogance - and why I stopped being a wiki-editor two years ago. If only the texts you cited had the same degree of neutral third-party sources, you would find that there IS a controversy - and that the authorship of FF Meta by Spiekermann is actually questionable.

From The designer of FF Meta[edit]

This is all much simpler and has been explained before. If you go to my blog,, you can read an article I wrote for Baseline magazine back in 1987, years before Meta became FF Meta and many more designers got involved with the development of the typeface family. They have all been credited.

In this article, I credit both Gerry Barney and Mike Pratley at Sedley Place Design, London, for design and artwork of complete alphabets and I show a reproduction of that artwork. I also credit myself and Michael Bitter for the original concept, research and sketches at Sedley Place Design, Berlin. It’s all there. If anybody with any knowledge about typedesign looked at Gerry and Mike’s artwork (which was not camera-ready but simple pencilled letters) and the original sketches, they would realize that they were, indeed, the completion of a complete alphabet from a dozen or so characters. Enough to define the concept, but not enough to show it to anybody. The artwork from Gerry and MIke was the basis for my final artwork, which consisted of pencil outlines at 194mm cap height, which was the size Linotype required for digitizing. (I have a few of those outline drawings left, although most of them were lost in one of my many moves). The two Sedley Place designers had a lot of experience with drawing display faces, but not very much with heavy-duty text faces. My large outlines were the result of a lot of testing with pasted-up lines of text. And when Werner Schimpf at D. Stempel AG had digitized the first batch, I had to go back and redraw a lot of characters, plus, of course, complete the initial set of some 126 characters. Spacing was also done at this stage. After the Bundespost had not shown any intention to ever publish what was called PT55, we went back to my original outline drawings and digitized them again, this time using Fontographer on a Macintosh. Most of that work was done by Just van Rossum with the help of Erik van Blokland, who were both my interns at the time (late 1988-1989), so Just’s hand shows through quite a bit, for example adding old style figures to the fonts.

Stanley Morison is credited with the design of Times New Roman, but there is no evidence of his artwork. The engraver Victor Lardent was supposed to have drawn the face on Morison’s instructions, who had taken Plantin as his model and told Lardent what to change and to improve. I invented PT55, after careful research and writing a detailed brief as to what the face was supposed to achieve. I made the decisions to use flared "pseudo-serifs" to bring light into the dark connectors between stems and curves, have stems begin with oblique strokes, use contrast between squarish counters and rounded outlines to help definition, and all the other decisions that made the face what it still is. The sketches and the reasoning behind them had been presented to the client and been given the go ahead. All this at Sedley Place Berlin, where I worked as a consultant for this project. Only then did we involve the colleagues in London, who had a lot of practice with lettering and were briefed to extend our sketches into a full alphabet. When the client failed to implement the typeface, I had the good sense to re-use my artwork (which was based on their sketches based on my sketches) and make it into what was to be released as FF Meta in 1991. The people at Sedley Place did not have the same good sense, Now this is all sour grapes.

Espiekermann (talk) 23:35, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Spiekermann seems to have restructured his website since August 2008, here is a link to the same article on his website: The Rumour (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 08:46, 18 February 2010 (UTC).

No Sour Grapes[edit]

The article has moved again, this time it is uncombined, at,,
To respond to Espiekermann, at least the article on WP now mentions Gerry and Mike. However, I find it interesting that above Espiekermann informs us that all but about 12 characters were drawn and designed by Gerry and Mike whose work ('enough to define the concept') he then copied. Having done that, I ask myself just why are they not considered as co-designers. I find it somewhat worrying that Espiekermann cannot see any problem there. Maybe it's me who has a problem understanding what it means to be a designer. For those who don't know Gerry Barney, he's the guy who designed VAG Rounded (aka VAG Rundschrift) among others typefaces (see, though he was generous enough to include his colleagues (co-directors of Sedley Place Ltd) as co-designers. As to whether or not VAG Rounded is a heavy-duty text face, I leave that to the reader to decide. (talk) 12:33, 12 July 2010 (UTC)