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Type as an Art Form

In the documentary, “Helvetica,” I learned just how prominent the typeface has become. Even though I’m not a graphic designer myself, I’ve come to know that Helvetica is a favorite typeface of many designers due to its clean simplicity and legibility. It’s become so prominent that it has even prompted shirts reading, “I had a helvetica good time.” In watching the documentary, it was interesting to see just how popular it has become. Though I was always aware of the typeface’s popularity, I don’t think I realized just how often it is around us. I enjoyed the various clips the documentary used to show how often Helvetica pops up in our daily lives. Because of how commonplace the typeface has become, it introduces an interesting dilemma. Helvetica is clearly something that people accept and feel comfortable with. However, graphic designers aren’t always looking for a reaction like “comfortable.” Helvetica is consistent, but there is a danger that, because of its consistency, it might fail to make an impact.

In the Lupton book, I was fascinated by the various classifications of type. As someone who has always loved words but never been very concerned with how they are presented, this makes me look at type in an entirely new way. The average person can tell the difference between a humanist, old style typeface like Sabon and a geometric sans serif like Futura, but few people can tell you why they are different. This course has already made me look at type very differently, taking the differences into account and analyzing them. I found it very interesting that the various categories, like transitional, humanist, and modern, correspond to the Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment periods. Linking these two ideas really enforces the concept of type as an art form.

caseyfabris

3 Comments

  1. Casey,

    I, too couldn’t believe how many places Helvetica is used around us. In fact, it almost goes unnoticed because it is a “staple.” Helvetica is always just… there. However, after watching this documentary, I gained a new type of appreciation for its usage. & I began to notice it a lot more!

    -Korena

  2. I mostly agree. I certainly appreciate its effectiveness. But as I posted, one mode of communication simply can’t be right all the time.

    -Jacob

  3. I completely agree. I really never noticed helvetica before watching the documentary, and now I see it everywhere (I have even seen the same shirt)! I do not think I have a new appreciation for it, but I think that’ because I feel like it’s overused now… I literally can’t escape it.

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