HERE A FONT, THERE A FONT, EVERYWHERE A FONT FONT!

My inbox overfloweth with weekly updates on what’s new, current and on-trend in the world of type design.

Font foundries from all four-corners of the globe market themselves digitally with great gusto in attracting us creative folk to their enormous variety of characters, ligatures and numerals.

It seems bewildering to me. The styles I see screaming neon pink and dayglo green from my MacMail window begging for my attention, have more often than not, been stretched and strained to the point of eligibility.

I’m not down with the plethora of typeface tailoring available, I actually love discovering new, well crafted and considered fonts, I just wish that there were more released that one could actually work with, instead of being introduced to one’s so fat, so thin, so angular and so obscure that their A’s and B’s could never be realised in the commercial world, where we seek to provide clear communication.

Like most art directors and designers, I have a ‘Top 10’ of typefaces that have been with me for two and a bit decades now. Yes Dear Reader, I’m a Bodoni, Caslon, Perpetua kinda guy for formals, with Futura, Helvetica and Univers as my wingmates on a crazy night out!

Fashionista fonts (or ‘Tarty Types’ as I sometimes like to call them) have come and gone like frivolous one night stands, but I always come home to my favourites. When I have strayed, I’m invariably left feeling quilty that I’ve played away in the hot ‘kerning’ pursuit of a new, tasty bit of slinky sans or a seductive sexy serif with a come-hither look!

In considering this blog, I’ve viewed a variety of sites offering up fonts, so many of them free which I consider a bad thing. There are just zillions of romans, bolds and italics out there ranging hugely in terms of individuality, legibility and quality. It’s my own belief that we’re reaching saturation point with the sheer volume of typefaces now available, leaving me with a nagging question…

Does the world really need another typeface?

The late, great Alan Fletcher once cited ‘A typeface is an alphabet in a straight jacket’. I think he was onto something here. When his designs required a unique textural flavour, he invariably used his own handwriting to facilitate the job at hand – this approach has always appealed to me.

I guess they’ll always be type designers out there producing. Hoping and praying that with enough ‘virtual’ exposure, they’ll have given rise to the latest ‘must have’ star font! It seldom is the (upper)case however – so much of the great, timeless work in typeface design having happened yonks ago and still prevalent in our visually branded world today.

Some typographic sillies to conclude:

Q. What kind of attack kills most typographers? A. Arial
Q. What was history’s most educated typeface? A. Times. Because Times Knew Roman
Q. What is a typographer’s favorite candy? A. Em & Ems

John Fairley 24th September 2014

Wooden Type

1 Comment

  1. love it.
    “The carnage was Grotesk but Akzidenz happen”

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