Dynamist Blog

Why Use That Typeface?

helveticamovie.jpgIn a typically delightful post, Michael Bierut considers the various reasons graphic designers choose one typeface out of the many possibilities. I'm eagerly anticipating Michael's new book, 79 Short Essays on Design, due out next week.

Speaking of typefaces, if you have a chance, be sure to see the new documentary film Helvetica, now making the festival rounds (showings listed here). Believe it or not, someone made a film about a typeface--once considered THE typeface of modernity and still ubiquitous--and it's a gem. It not only vividly tells the story of the rise and fall and rise of Helvetica but uses the typeface's story to provide insight into competing concepts of modernity and into the eternal tension between the classic and the personally expressive. Michael Bierut, whose interview gets the movie's biggest laughs, wrote about Helvetica, and reminisced about the old days when typefaces were arcane lore, here. [Update: I inadvertently omitted the very important word "about" in the original version of that sentence. Michael appears in Helvetica, but he didn't write the movie.]

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