My post from yesterday sparked a bit of interesting discussion. Well, interesting to me at least.
My dear friend Julie noted that she would not want to be stuck in an elevator with a bunch of designers, as a heated argument would no doubt break out over the "elevator button font". Drastic you say? Maybe, but we designers tend to be very serious about our type. In fact, most graphic designers have an intense love affair with type and paper. Just today, in my Typography 2 class, there was a (mock) heated discussion on Futura vs. Helvetica.
I personally love Helvetica, but am an even bigger fan of Univers (I'll give you a sample later). Futura just doesn't turn me on.
So it got me thinking about when this all started for me. I guess it might have been when I was in high school and very serious about how the yearbook should be layed out. And then when I started college and took my first graphic design classes*. Chip Kidd, the rock-star of book cover design, writes in his novel "The Cheese Monkeys"**:
'It's hard to pinpoint exactly when The Difference began, but as I bought my ticket from the Beaver Bus TRavel Company to go home for Easter, I was really, really bothered by the fact that the color and shape of the logo on it (a Chicklet-toothed, dirt brown rodent in a baseball cap, madly waving good-bye with his right hand) did not match those on the sign above the sales booth (dark blue and waving with the left). Which was also completely different from the little bastards painted on the sides of the buses AND stamped on the schedule pamphlets (badly printed on a flimsy paper stock completely ill-suited for the wear and tear of the long-term use they were no doubt intended for). And that's when I realized things like this had been occurring to me a lot lately. All signage - indeed, any typesetting, color schemes, and printed materials my eyes pounced on were automatically dissected and held to Draconian standards of graphic worthiness. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing the station attendant by the shoulders and screaming, "None of it is CONSISTENT! Don't you understand?! Somebody do SOMETHING!!" '
I laughed out loud when I read this because this is very similar to the constant inner monologue that runs through my head. It's second nature now.
My other dear friend, Sumiko, also brought up the interesting point of being willing to go to bat for Arial. I understand, and I think I used to agree. It's actually become sort of a purist thing. Helvetica was created in the 50's by a guy named Max Miedinger. Arial was created by Microsoft, is packaged with every version of Windows, and is basically a cheap (and unauthorized) clone of Helvetica. If you are feeling particularly geeky, check out this site (and I actually own and love the book, 'Helvetica, a Homage to a Typeface'. It's incredibly well designed and beautiful). But I also know that most people, who aren't graphic designers, don't have access to Helvetica. It's incredibly expensive to buy, and really, if you're not a designer, you probably don't really care about the whole 'Microsoft ripping Helvetica off' thing anyway.
Whew. There you have it.
*For those of you who don't know, 10 years ago, when I started college at the dreaded Boise State University, I was studying Graphic Design. The short version of the longer story is that one of the 3 GD teachers was a complete jack-ass and told me (in my first semester) that I didn't have what it takes to be a graphic designer. I was very vulnerable at 18 (as are most people), and believed him. I changed my major. But look at me now! I'm in one of the best schools which has one of the best Graphic Design programs. It was definitely worth the wait.
** This is a really fun and quick read if you're interested.