Typography: The Evolving Design Element

Posted by Megan Bannister

We all have our weird, nerdy habits. For some of us it may be religiously completing the Sunday crossword in the “New York Times.” For one particular friend of mine, it is listening to only NPR while driving in the car. The other day while riding in his car, a program came on the radio about the different fonts used during the Obama campaign, how the resulting typography impacted his campaign performance and ultimately aided in his election.

Typography is an element of design that we are surrounded by every day but oftentimes fail to recognize as having an impact on the way we think or perceive the world around us. In the case of the Obama campaign, the font Gotham, created by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, became synonymous with the President’s message of hope and change; whereas the McCain campagain utilized versions of Optima, a font critics found less visually appealing and too old-fashioned. However, before it was brought into vast public consciousness, the many varieties of Gotham were used in various urban and commercial locations.

It was at this point in the car ride that I realized that I am a closet typography nerd. But it is comforting to know that I am not alone. There are scores of blogs all over the Internet dedicated to the wonders of typography with topics ranging from the history of fonts to blogs that post font reviews with links to type-selling websites. However, as many of us are college students with corresponding budgets, a font-lover’s paradise is dafont.com. Here you can download fonts that resemble that of the Beatles, “Alice in Wonderland” or the work of Kat Von D. You can even get ambitious and make your own handwriting into a personalized font.

Unique typography is becoming more and more prevalent in the design world. What are some of the most unique or effective typefaces you have seen? Or, inversely, what are some typefaces you can’t stand? Comic Sans anyone?

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7 responses to “Typography: The Evolving Design Element

  1. Pingback: Typography: The Evolving Design Element « Mac & Cheese with Soy Sauce

  2. Oh fonts.
    I am a fan.
    I peruse dafont.com at least once a week to look at the freebies. But what I usually find there are good fonts for headlines in design. Very rarely do I find a decent body text. I think that’s where we can separate the true typography nerds from the hipsters. When you can begin to see the beauty in Century Gothic or Arial, even Gotham. Anyone can like Thunderhouse. It takes someone special to value the seemingly pedestrian.

    If you haven’t already seen College Humor’s series on fonts, you should. Here’s a little taste: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1823766

  3. I’m so glad there are other font crazies out there. Fascinating how impactful it can be and most people don’t know it! If marketers knew this I think marketing would be much different.

  4. I, for one, have had enough of Papyrus. (And Comic Sans, of course.) The link is to an anti-Papyrus blog.

    If you’re really a font geek, you’ll love the documentary “Helvetica.”

    Here’s some more font humor.

    And here’s a quiz: What font are you?

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