Thursday, 2 October 2014

OUGD403 - Study Task 1 - What's Your Type?

What's Your Type?

The world renowned designer Massimo Vignelli said 'a designer should only use six typefaces: Garamond, Bodoni, Helvetica, Times Roman, Century, Futura'. I am not entirely sure if I completely agree with his statement but I can understand why he said it. The six fonts listed are wonderfully simple and widely appreciated by designers and non designers alike and that is why they work so well in such a visually polluted world. They function very well and just work as type faces. Vignelli's point was that a designer will be more successful by knowing a smaller subset of of typefaces well. This is a brilliant concept to remember. Keeping it simple always works.

Before coming to Leeds I had never really thought about what my favourite font was. I had always admired classic Sans Serif fonts such as Century Gothic and Myriad Pro. I have also admired Johnston Sans, a world famous type face synonymous with the London Underground, for a long time. It's Art Deco qualities are timeless and still relevant in 2014. Geometric patterns and architecture inspire me massively and Sans Serif fonts tend to be bold, geometric and appear within urban environments and consumer products. 

Below are a few questions I answered to help me discover what my type is:

When am I happiest? When I am out photographing places around me, especially urban environments, this is my favourite hobby as well  

Where is your favourite place? I have too many to list, but one of my favourite places I have ever visited is Marrakesh, Morocco. The place is incredible. So vibrant, so much colour and geometric pattern everywhere, an assault on the senses.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A pretentious painter living in a studio apartment either in London or another arty farty city somewhere in the world. That dream could still become a reality...
What makes you unhappy? When you tell people you're studying Graphic Design and they reply with: 'Oh, so you like sit at a computer and make stuff on Photoshop right?'
Happiest memory? My Dad used to take me to African drumming classes every Sunday at Camden Market. I used to jam along with the shop owners for hours it was the best thing in the world

Some background information on the five fonts:

  • Garamond, the oldest type face of the six, belongs to a family of old-style serif typefaces derived from the work of Claude Garamond in the sixteenth century. Several revivals were produced in the early 20th century, nevertheless the Garamond name has always stuck. Most Garamond fonts have become renowned for their excellent readability, elegance, and character. For me this type face is timeless  and sophisticated, but it's a bit too old fashioned for me. 
  • Bodoni is a modern typeface, designed in the late 1700's by the Italian Typographer Giambattista Bodoni. In the late eighteenth century a fashion grew for faces with stronger contrasts between the 'thicks' and the 'thins', unbracketed serifs and a strong vertical stress, these became known at 'modern typefaces'. Bodoni's creation is one of the best examples of this. All other type faces before Bodoni are known as 'Old style', while the more recent faces just prior to the arrival of Bodoni are usually referred to as 'Transitional'. Bodoni is a beautiful font but not modern or geometric enough for me to call it my favourite of the six
  • Century Expanded is part of a family of type faces derived from the original Century Roman cut by American Type Founders designer Linn Boyd Benton in 1894. Despite originating in the nineteenth century, use of the typeface remains strong, for periodicals, textbooks, and literature. Some interesting characteristics of this type include: a curl ending in a ball terminal on top of letter c, a ball terminal on hook of f, ear of g, and tail of j. There is a curled tail on the capital R and reflexive curled tail on the capital Q, and a prominent top spur on capital C. Again because Century is a Serif font I am not as keen on calling it 'my typeface', however I do think it is beautifully constructed 
  • Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed in 1927 by Paul Renner. It was designed as a contribution on the New Frankfurt-project. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative of visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–33. Futura's success spawned a range of new geometric sans-serif typefaces from competing foundries, and remains one of the most used sans-serif types into the twenty-first century. Particularly during the 1950s it was used extensively by the publishing industry as a general purpose font. Futura remains an important typeface family and is used on a daily basis for print and digital purposes as both a headline and body font. The font is also used extensively in advertisements and logos, notably by IKEA.  I really like Futura as it's bold and geometric and geometric design, pattern making and artwork really inspires me. Futura is similar to Johnston Sans and this is why I am drawn to it
  • Times New Roman gets its name from the Times of Lon­don, the British news­pa­per. In 1929, the Times hired ty­pog­ra­pher Stan­ley Mori­son of Mono­type, a British font foundry, to cre­ate a new text font. Mori­son led the project and su­per­vised Vic­tor Lar­dent, an ad­ver­tis­ing artist for the Times, who drew the letterforms. Af­ter Mono­type com­pleted Times New Ro­man, it had to li­cense the de­sign to then-ri­val Lino­type, be­cause the Times used Lino­type’s type­set­ting ma­chines. Times Roman is classic, but I am not its biggest fan. The Serif's put me off
  • Helvetica, the most modern of the six, is a beautifully simplistic type face developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann. This type face is everywhere, especially in urban environments, and I believe this is why I am fond of it. For example, the New York Subway system employs Helvetica on all of its signage. Helvetica's aim was to be a neutral typeface with great clarity, no intrinsic meaning in its form, and be able to be used on a wide variety of signage. These goals were certainly achieved. 
After researching the six fonts and thinking hard about which one reflects me as a creative individual I realised that my type is Futura. Out of 'Vingellis' six', Futura is the font that I can relate to the most. Renner wanted to create a typeface based on pure and simple geometrical forms, perfect circles, triangles and squares, free from decorative elements. Renner once said: "The truly modern is what we hold today to be timelessly perfect". Futura was born over 80 years ago, yet it continues to be widely used in both branding and publication. I am fascinated with how this particular font continues to fuel modern consumerism. I also find it interesting that Renner was not a member of the Bauhaus, but shared many of its views, believing that a modern typeface should express modern models rather than be a revival of a previous design. Aesthetically I appreciate Futura's sleek curves contrasted with its brutal edges. I am a fan of controlling chaos through geometry and that fundamentally, is what Futura does. 

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