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Hearing About Helvetica

So many of the logos and signs that I see every day use Helvetica. I never would have been able to tell you that before this morning. Even then, sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s using it – I was amazed by how different some of the logos managed to look from one another, even though they used the same font! I agreed and disagreed with the designers who argued that Helvetica lacks uniqueness. On its own, it certainly does, but it seems to me that the uniqueness comes from how a designer uses the font. For instance, the Staples logo uses Helvetica, but alters the L to make it look like a staple. The logo is still clear and legible, but includes the hint of creativity that some designers think is impossible to add with Helvetica.
I also thought watching Matthew Carter’s process for designing a typeface was interesting. It makes sense that he starts with a lowercase h, since there are so many different elements that go into that letter alone (different levels of thickness, serif v. sans, x height, etc). I wonder if starting with any other letter would be just as effective.

Megan Choate

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