by J. J. Sedelmaier
Before branding and marketing had all the options afforded the advertiser today, there was a substantial period when companies spent their time and money on offering up little giveaway goodies to the public. Without the web, television or even radio, corporations often relied on print to spread the word about their “Made In America” efforts.
Today it’s the small industries and independent firms that use this technique to reach their customers and clients. They’re the ones that realize the intimate benefit of tangible “tokens” like these. (more)
Type is everywhere. Every print publication, website, movie, advertisement and public message involves the creation or selection of a fitting typeface. Online, a rich and artistic typographical culture exists, where typefaces are created and graphic design seeps in to every image.
Typeface designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones outline the importance of selecting the right font to convey a particular feeling. Graphic designer Paula Scher talks about building identity in messaging, while Eddie Opara uses texture to create reaction. Infographic designers Julia Vakser and Deroy Peraza map complicated data sets into digestible imagery, mixing color, graphics and type.
Right Here, Right Now by Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim)
I was recently re-reading Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr., an oral history of Ed Wood recounted by those that worked with him, and Hollywood Rat Race by Ed Wood Jr., his attempt at offering “advice” to young actors and filmmakers on making it in Hollywood.
From Publisher’s Weekly on Hollywood Rat Race:
Wood offers tips on how to be discovered in Hollywood (you won’t, stay at home); how to achieve stardom (become a character actor the likes of Jonathan Hale, Jane Darnell, Addison Richards and a seemingly endless list of other Hollywood nobodies of the 1950s); how to elude the casting couch (or at least, how to distinguish, and sleep with, legitimate producers rather than “phonies”); and how to comport oneself in debtor’s court. This somewhat entertaining glimpse of Hollywood’s sleazy side won’t disillusion those who think of Wood as an inept writer – his work is filled with mindless cliche’s (“You’re only as good as your last picture!”) – and numerous, even obsessive, references to fluffy white angora sweaters. The irony of Wood’s authorship of this manual (unpublished until this printing) during the 1960s, one of the bleaker times in his career, will be apparent to all readers – as will Wood’s understandable bitterness as he spews out unending invective against the “phonies” who take advantage of young, angora sweater-wearing talent. While this brief book isn’t quite bad enough to rank with Woods’s most distinctive creations, dedicated fans will find it a howler.
I had no idea of the degree to which this particular branch of graphic design was thriving, though it could clearly benefit from a little more originality. We may not always know when or where the next storm will be, but at least we know it’s sans-serif. Prepare accordingly.
And there is something particularly amusing about the dismal tracking on the word tracking in “Tracking Irene” (upper right). Amusing because someone was obviously paying some sort of (clearly misplaced) attention to it. They sure did tuck that R under the T with a crowbar, but were seemingly hit with a sudden bout of lethargy regarding the visual space between the R and the A.
And perhaps the next time anyone is attempting to create appropriate graphics for an important news event in 2011, they would be well advised to skip the cheesy 1980s Sci-Fi/Sports-ish typeface altogether.
Erik Spiekermann – Putting Back the Face into Typeface
On June 1st, the San Francisco Giants became the first professional sports team to join the It Gets Better Project with a video featuring a handful of its players and coaches speaking out against bullying and homophobia towards LGBT kids and teens. This was quickly followed by similar videos from (in order) the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles (with a commitment from the Seattle Mariners to be next). Many other baseball teams are being petitioned as well. As a New Yorker – and Yankee fan – it was a surprise (a wonderful surprise) to see the Red Sox being one of the first teams in. Sure, Boston is a great city, but the social climate is simply not the same as it is in San Francisco, making it perhaps even more impressive in my eyes.
While I was appreciating this welcome breakthrough on the part of professional athletes, I happened to come across this opinion piece in the Boston Globe online. A Boston attorney named Bennett Klein writes:
“Given the varying silence or negative messages about being LGBT, young LGBT people need to hear from their role models that yes, gay is good. Instead, the Red Sox video is full of generalities and platitudes that are at best meaningless and, at worst, unintentionally demeaning. Is Jason Varitek’s comment, “It’s okay to be your own unique being” really telling LGBT youth that they are not like everybody else? Jason, it would have been so powerful to simply say, “It’s okay to be gay.” The Sox video demonstrates that it is still too risky for professional athletes to make affirming statements about LGBT people. Professional athletes are so esteemed in our society that their statements can be real “game changers.” The Sox missed a great opportunity to change the game for LGBT youth.”
His piece can (and should) be read in its entirety.
And while I agree with him on many of the specifics, I still cannot see this as a “missed opportunity”. As a (very) jaded sports fan, this is far more than I would have ever expected, and a very promising first step.
Yankees, your move.
Reading printed text is so fluid and transparent for most people that it’s hard to imagine it feeling any other way. Maybe that’s why it took a dyslexic designer to create a typeface that optimizes the reading experience for people who suffer from that condition. Christian Boer’s “Dyslexie” doesn’t exactly make the letterforms look conventionally beautiful, but since when is that a prerequisite for well-designed? If it works, it works. And according to an independent study by the University of Twente in Boer’s native Netherlands, it does work. (more…)