type3kcad

This blog was established for the Typography 3 students of Kendall College of Art + Design.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Do we all have to be font dorks?

I found this article on The Onion website, depending on how nerdy you are, you might find it funny. Here's part of it...

Now, on to our next letter: Dear Font Dork,
How many of the letters you print do you actually write yourself? And if it is actually less than 100 percent, then what kind of loser needs advice on fonts?
Not Falling For It In Falls Church

Well, Falls Church, those are some pretty big accusations. But first, let me say that the tracking and leading of your letter were off by a country mile. I'll also point out that the Bodoni you used, with a cap height of a mere 11 points, is probably the most inexpressive font around. And if that weren't enough, demi weight moderns have been out of style since the early '80s! Maybe if you spent less time mocking what you obviously don't understand, and a little more time trying to comprehend the subtle science of font usage, your letter wouldn't look like it had been typed by a chimpanzee!
The rest is here -http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33780

This article made me laugh a little bit, but it also made me cry a little bit when I realized that the writer of this fictional comedy newspaper article knows more about type than I do, and I'm supposed to be a graphic designer. As a student of design, I feel most self-concious about the typefaces that I choose because most of the time I don't have an explanation for why a chose a particular typeface. Anyway, I'm just curious about how much consideration you put in to your type choices.
Are you aware of any connotations your choices might have to a more educated viewer?
How much time do you spend choosing a typeface?
Why Caslon instead of Garamond?
Are you like me and rotate between Helvetica, Futura, and Garamond on every project no mater what it is?

11 Comments:

At 9:19 PM, Blogger jalger said...

Uh oh. Sounds like a hole in the typographic education. Either that or someone hasn't been paying attention!

"Learning" typography is much harder now than it was not more than a decade ago. Thanks to font "designing" software and the Internet making an endless array of fonts available (see our recent discussion on downloading free fonts), we lose much of the focus on the science and art of typography. Instead we choose to spend more time "expressing" ourselves with the most recently posted gritty or script fonts. This is not typography.
Certainly, knowing which font to use in any given situation is a part of the process, but it's more about knowing how to use the type chosen.

If we believe the words of Massimo Vignelli, then "A designer should use only these five typefaces: Bodoni, Helvetica, Times Roman, Century, and Futura." Perhaps this is a bit extreme, but it demonstrates the point that even with a little, one can do a lot.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Jared said...

It seems to be the trend to use grunged up typefaces that have very little finesse. I have been able to stray from doing this myself, but this has been somewhat through my education as well as how I am. It seems to be that I am very Swiss in my thinking that type should be read and able to understood easily and quickly; handwriting is outside of this relm of which I speak though. But I always have my reasons for choosing a typeface, even if I use a handful of them now a days. I am still constantly looking at new faces and am inspired by what is being created, most of the time...

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger jess said...

I may spend days and days looking for a font, wanting to change it up a bit, but in the end, I will always resort to something along the lines of gill sans, futura or didot. I think that knowing typography is important, but I also think that many people are set in thier ways. Also, I'm not sure if I'm impressed or horrified when people can look at a font and tell you a million things about it. Because really, I find it hard to care about specifics if something looks good. But it has to really look good.

 
At 9:37 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

I wish I was able to say I know all the specifics when it comes to using fonts-but with the millions of fonts we now have to choose from it's just not possible. I too look through hundreds of fonts I have stored on my computer when working on a project, yet usually resort to my favorite few. We all seem to find our select few and stick with them, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing----as long as we use them correctly.

 
At 12:19 AM, Blogger Highner said...

Actually I do have hundreds of fonts on my computer and thousands more available on the internet, but still or maybe even therefore I don't keep looking through them all the time. The variety makes it hard to choose and lets me get back to the ones I know work fine for certain purposes.

Even thouh I'd like to be somebody who can tell fonts from all the others out there and know stories and specifics about them, let's face it: I'm not THAT interested. Because in the end we are all interested in designing with fonts and not necessarily the fonts themselves.
And we seem to agree on this one: You can be a good designer even using only a hand full of fonts, so let's don't bash those who do.

 
At 1:12 AM, Blogger t-bizket said...

In a interview with Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson, tommy made the comment to pam “you should stick to what you are good at” basically saying her movie “barbwire” sucked (which it did) my point is don’t be a font whore. If you can stick with something your comfortable with and it works… then use it. and if you do decide to step out of your little font box with something new be ready to fail. But that’s the only way to learn so fail away… haha wow I need to quit drinking… it makes no since but I like it
So don’t spend all your time looking for the perfect font, just spend all you time making your font perfect (an ex once told me that)

 
At 2:19 PM, Blogger shedays said...

Michael Osborne of Michael Osborne Design, San Francisco Calif. judged the Portfolio design work in STEP last spring and his critique was enlightening, “…some programs are doing a stellar job, while others continue to produce mediocre student work, at best. The coast cities seem to excel, yet typography is the Achilles heel of 95% of all student work.”

This quote sticks in my mind every time I choose a type. Although I love to observe the outrageous, I stick with the classics. I choose type based on its history, feel, and purpose. If I choose a type that I have never used before, I normally research its history.

In the end, my designs are as much about the history of the type as they are about the graphics

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Tian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Tian said...

I have tons of fonts on my computer and it seems like there is an endless supply of new ones on the internet, but its still really hard for me to decided on just a coule to use in a project. For the last project I did not already know about Brody.I researched.I looked up tons of different fonts that were used on 50's ads, to get the right feel for my poster. I think the font in a project can really make it come together or fall apart fast.

 
At 8:03 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

In this case, I wish I could go back in time to learn about fonts before the creation of the fontbook or the internet. I feel like having a hands-on education of fonts and the science of them would have gave me a better understanding/apprication of what they are. But since I dont have a time machine...I cant. But I can try, and I would say I dafinatly take into consideration what fonts I use on every project...how can you not?

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger Jenn+Type=LetterLove said...

I take into consideration what typefaces i use.. i even try to stray away from what i usually use and try something *cringe* different.. then it always comes back to arial black, and garamond. i'm afraid it's either a sickness, or just a security nest of typography and the wonderful feeling of knowing you are comfortable with a specific typeface or two, like you would feel with a person. I seem to actually have this problem with people too. must be something deep within the psyche.. anyway...
straying away is something i would like to do, but find it difficult.

 

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