Experiment with Typefaces


Least Favorite

Times (New Roman) is the standard font we use for writing papers or formal circumstances. The pro of it is that all the words are very legible so that people can understand the word right away. However, when we want to emphasize on a word, or to make a headline, Times (New Roman) is very flat and dull. For the word “rebellion”, it doesn’t add any weight on the meaning of this word.

Let’s try another typeface: PT Banana Split. The name of the typeface is very cute, and the typeface itself matches the name pretty well. Here, although we’ve added weight on the word “rebellion”, the typeface actually weaken the meaning of “rebellion” and turns it into “cute”. So this is an example of misusing typeface.

This time the typeface is better than the last one. The edginess of the word “rebellion” is emphasized by pixel-like typeface. And it reminds of typefaces used in video game as well. However, all the letters are the same sizes, the bottom and the top of the letters are lined up, and the kernings between each two letters are equal. This is not “rebellious” enough.

What about this one? The name of this typeface is pretty “rebellious” and it turns out to match the feature of the word “rebellion” pretty well. The dripping of the letters makes it look like a Graffiti, as if some rebellious teenage kid’s protest for school or family. The kerning between each two letters are different, and each letter looks very rough, unpolished. These features bring out the meaning of the word even more.

Favorite

The name of this typeface is not quite accurate. Here, the first letter “R” is bigger than any other following letters, which grabs people attention even more. The typeface makes the word look like as if they are angrily written with a marker. The different kernings between each two letters creates a sense of handwriting instead of typeface, and that adds more emotion into the word. Overall, this typeface brings out the edginess and spirit of the word “rebellion”.

Project 3

Origins of Helvetica

Helvetica is a neo-grotesque sans-serif typeface designed in 1957 by Swiss designers Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann. Intended to be used for a wide variety of purposes, the font was designed to be clear and without inherent meaning on its own. It is widely used by companies like BMW, Panasonic, and Target for their logos. It’s characteristics including a tall x-height and wide uppercase letters are meant to improve legibility from a distance. Other unique traits include a rounded tail on the letter ‘R’, a two-storied ‘a’, and a square-looking ‘s’.

Sketches

Poster idea sketches

In my sketches, I explored ideas like density, letter form, minimalism, and weights. I decided to go with my last sketch invoking the Swiss flag because I thought it conveyed the most meaning.

Poster

Because Helvetica was rooted in Swiss design of its time, I wanted to emphasize the Swiss origins of the typeface. At the same time, I wanted to evoke the characteristics of the typeface like its blocky-ness and simplicity. I realized that just “HELVETICA” would not be tall enough to create the horizontal bar of the cross, so I included the date and the designers in the bar as well.

Swiss Flag

I researched the Swiss flag because if I was going to reinterpret it, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t disrespect it. Most importantly, I learned that it was a square flag. This opened up possibilities for my poster since I would have more room to display more information if I fit the square flag into the rectangular poster. I also found the proportions of the flag, and I made sure to keep my proportions consistent so that it closely resembled the original even with the text inside.

Swiss flag proportions

Final

Once I was able to fit the letters into the cross without inconsistent spacing, I had to decide what to put below the flag. Keeping with the theme of minimalism and simplicity, I simply put the character sets of the different configurations of Helvetica. With the remaining space at the bottom, I found a quote from a book about Helvetica that I thought encapsulated its original intention. Finally, I made sure that all the components felt balanced in terms of size and spacing.