who deals with type concerns readability.
Unfortunately, this function is often
overemphasized at the expense of style,
individuality, and the very
effectiveness of the message itself.”
– Paul Rand
When you think of it, words get in the way of appreciating typography. You find yourself reading what’s said and paying scant attention to the characters from which the words are composed. In fact, idiosyncratic typefaces can be distracting and irritating if you are trying to read long passages. Type should affect the reader on a subliminal level, adding to the reader’s enjoyment, not stressing the eyes or competing for the reader’s attention. But as graphic forms, typefaces can be beautiful, elegant, whimsical, futuristic, historic, geometric, sculptural, and even funny, if you count Comic Sans. Used as a design element, quirky fonts can add a lot of spice to a page.
Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones of the influential type foundry H&FJ in New York City were recipients of the prestigious AIGA Medal this year. This video, created by the New York design studio, Dress Code, was shown at the Medalist dinner in April. Here, the two talk candidly about how they approach type design and talk about why it takes them a decade to get each project ready for release.
“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.”
This January type fonts earned long overdue recognition as “designed objects” when the renowned Museum of Modern Art in New York City acquired 23 digital typefaces for its Architecture and Design Collection. Except for its acquisition of Helvetica, this is the first time typefaces made it into MoMA’s permanent collection.
This quiz is to see if you can name the 23 faces inducted into the MoMA permanent collection — and three more classic faces we added just to round out the alphabet. To help you along, we included a clue alongside the font letter, and can tell you that the type designers chosen for the MoMA collection are Wim Crouwel, Matthew Carter, Erik Spiekermann, Zuzana Licko, Jeffery Keedy, Erik van Blokland, Just van Rossum, Barry Deck, P. Scott Makela, Jonathan Hoefler, Neville Brody, Jonathan Barnbrook, Tobias Frere-Jones, and Albert-Jan Pool. Good luck! (Answers on next page.)