Typography Comes of Age

“Enough with the typography already!” My complaint to Kit is that every other story he wants to post in @Issue has to do with type. So, I’m writing this somewhat under duress.

“Humor me,” Kit says.

But the truth is that perhaps more than any time in history, the average person on the street is acutely aware of the differences in typefaces. Thanks to the computer, we can pick the digital font that suits our mood and voice. As a culture, we have become type snobs, sneering at Comic Sans, forming snap opinions about people who make Arial their default font, arguing over whether Helvetica is deserving of its popularity, and ridiculing some faces as “so last century.”

Graphic designers especially revel in the freedom to pick from hundreds of fonts. They can just click on a pull-down menu or manipulate or design their own face. And since designers are now their own typesetters, they are intimately familiar with how different type styles affect the nuances of letter spacing. More than ever, designers understand the emotional power of the right typeface, the cultural history of “wedding invitation” script or Century Schoolbook, and their bias toward some becomes a signature of their style. This somewhat explains why Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield has become a runaway top seller. The book is a fun read, making the history, aesthetics, science and philosophy of type accessible and fascinating.

This promo video for the book was produced by Pentagram.