Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Lettering Research

The Ones that Catch my Eye:

At first glance this is a disarmingly simple activity: simply collect examples of lettering.  Instead I see it as a conversation with myself about what catches my eye, and pleases it, and why.  So often the text is in combination with an illustration or photograph.  How is it that they complement each other, or maybe they don’t?  Is it just a matter of personal taste?

“Just my Type: a book about fonts” was drawn to my attention when it was serialised on Radio 4.  It’s by Simon Garfield and tells the story behind many of the fonts our computers make available to us.  Here are a few of the stories of the more than 100.000 fonts in the world: the debate about serifs, the notion that Optima is a perfect perfume font, the idea that a font can convey the identity of a nation.

You only have to walk along a high street, preferably an unfamiliar one, to understand the flexibility of lettering.  It can convey playfulness and warmth, exoticism, solidity, desirability, a chain’s identity, individualism and so much more.



Short words lend themselves to visual playfulness.  I particularly like the reversal of  the L in salt.



 Above are coffee shop signs -- contrast Costa, the chain with its predictable offering, with Minkies, unfamiliar, quirky, tempting the customer to make a change.  Gail's too is different, suggesting warmth and quality, predictable but of a continental kind.


Then there's the suggestion of the exotic, the "definitely from another place".  Even the Dutch, so close to us geographically, have their own look.



Of course London is the place to be and who better to convey it than estate agents selling that dream.

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