Obviously this would not have been a real design blog if there wasn’t any mention about typography. The word type comes from Greek typos “a blow, dent, impression, mark, effect of a blow; figure in relief, image, statue; anything wrought of metal or stone”.
Typography the way we know it today has come a long way. I would like to focus on two very different topics, which often intertwine with each other but at the same time are very different, and these are typography and hand lettering. At the beginning I was really confused, but I found out the subtle difference between the two through my research.
Lettering can be defined simply as the “art of drawing letters”. The concept here is that the end result of the process of lettering is a combination of letterforms which is crafted for one and one only purpose. This all starts making sense when it is opposed to the end goal of typography. This practice in fact studies how letterforms interact with each other on a surface, and its final goal is to eventually send the type to press, which means it will be used for a multiple number of purposes.
In this example we can see a pleasant looking way of designing letterforms, although if we had to mix up the letters on the image to create new words, the types would not match each other most of the times.
On the contrary, in the following example, no matter how we move the types around, there will always be a continuity between the letter forms.
I think this is a good time to introduce some basic typography terminology, as it will come in handy to understand the following paragraphs.
As we can notice, there are plenty of specific terms regarding type. According to how a specific typeface looks like, elements like serifs, stems, ascenders and descenders will have different looks and feels.
The word typeface is often mistaken with the word font. The former refers to the style, for example Helvetica and Times New Roman are typefaces; the latter refers to a specific member of that particular type family, for example Times New Roman could be bold, italic and so on.
Now that I have explored the basics of typography, I would like to talk about one typeface which is amongst my favourites as a designer, and moreover whose history has fascinated me, and this is Helvetica.
Helvetica is the typeface above and sooner or later we have all come across it, or used it. This is what is fascinating about typography, it is everywhere, but only who knows what to look for can really observe it. I am going to try to explore the birth and rise of Helvetica. I suggest you watch the documentary “Helvetica” by Gary Hustwit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5toB3nDOFdM) as it is a real gem and it really communicates the impact the typeface has had on society.
Helvetica was developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas type foundry) of Münchenstein, Switzerland. As Rick Poynor points out in the documentary, the 1950s were an interesting time for the development of graphic design, which was also caused by the cease of WWII. He carries on by saying there was a real sense of responsibility felt by designers, who also wanted to create typefaces with a clearer and more democratic feel.
All these and many others are the factors which made the birth of Helvetica possible. Michael Bierut says that when Helvetica first made its appearance in the world of typefaces, people felt like it was giving their logos a new and modern feel, which made hundreds of existing businesses change their identities to an Helvetica version.
As much as people could say: “It is only a typeface”, Helvetica had a massive impact on the society of its time. It is in fact an historical symbol of what the designers and the society were seeking for at that time.
I find fascinating that through typography we can understand and feel closer to the problems of the society of almost 60 years ago. People were asking for stability after the two world wars, together with clarity and democracy. Designers interpreted this needs and created a typeface which is acting today like a “fossil” and by this I mean that it gives us a picture of what was happening at the time it was created. Moreover, it is still considered to be one of the best typefaces and is still currently used for many purposed, from logo design to many others.
The task I had to complete this week had obviously something to do with type.
In the first part I had to design my full name with a specific type which would best describe me, and explain why.
This is what I came up with, and my reasons are:
- It is a serif, which gives a feeling of old fashioned and elegant. Which I considered myself to be up to a certain extent.
- It is bold, it wants to make a statement, but at the same time it is quite subtle. This also describes my personality quite well, in fact as a person I love blending in with the people around me, but at the same time being original and thinking out of the box.
- It is not a handwritten kind of typeface because that would fall into a posh bracket which I don’t find myself belonging to.
The second part of the task was to design a company’s logo using a typeface which in my opinion would best describe it.
I chose to design an alternative version on the Marlboro logo
In my version, the typeface chosen is very thin. I did this on purpose to give it a very unhealthy and sick look. I also tweaked the other elements of the logo’s design. I removed the emblem, and designed to hybrid bones/cigarettes. I wanted to give an overall look to the logo which would be uninviting and giving an idea of sickness, bad health and death.