31 January 2012

a spot of culture...typography - what's my type

words are all around us. how they look is as important as what they say. how they look affects not only how easy it is for us to read them, but also how we feel about them. how words look can give us subtle messages and dictates whether reading words is a soothing or scratchy experience. it's also deeply personal: what i like will give you a headache; what you like will make me shudder or tut.

i've never understood those people (including many i've worked with) who only focus on the content of a piece of text and totally ignore the design including typography. in writing we must have content and design, you can't have one without the other, so it is always worth spending time on how something looks.

typography takes us from calligraphy to graffiti; helvetica to comic sans.

one of the small highlights of my recent trip to new york was the eye-pleasing use of helvetica in the subway. now, helvetica (released in 1957), has its critics for being too corporate and too commonplace but for me it is a good, strong choice for a public space and a major transport system. it is easy to read, clean, practical yet beautiful, tasteful, and well-designed.


if you want to learn more about helvetica, i recommend the film helvetica made when the typeface was 50 years old in 2007.

i'm really grateful to @noelito for tweeting some beautiful examples of typography used in public spaces. in transcending tags: 16 typographic works of urban art, weburbanist takes us on a short tour of some great examples of street art using the beauty of lettering.

here is my favourite from anna garforth...

photo credit: crosshatchling


and what's the next book on my reading pile? just my type: a book about fonts by simon garfield. it was recently radio 4's book of the week.

1 comment:

  1. I'm the same! Quite often I will look at "the look" of something written as well as the message.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog, I really appreciate it. The café where I took the pictures you mentioned is called Maison Bertaux and is on Greek Street in Soho. Hope this helps and you'll enjoy your time in London xo

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