Monday, January 31, 2011
Do you think the Helvetica typeface is good or bad? Why?
Personally, I quite like the Helvetica typeface. Helvetica is something I never even had any knowledge of until my (graphic designer) girlfriend dragged me to see the movie at SIFF Cinema some years ago. However, after leaving the theater, now knowing what Helvetica is, I started to notice it everywhere! This typeface is such a commonplace everywhere you look. From Crate and Barrell to American Apparel...everyone seems to use it and for all the same reasons. It's a great typeface.
In the film you really learn the anatomy of the typeface and finally understand the ridiculous simplicity in it. Classical shape inspired characters, no serifs, smooth and clean lines. Its tracking and kerning is so even and consistent, It's so easy on the eyes, and it just simply looks good.
Being quite minimalist and simple myself, I appreciate the no frills attitude and basic form.
Who was your favorite type or graphic designer interviewed in the movie, and why?
I would have to say that my favorite type designer was Rick Poynor, as seen towards the beginning of the film. While there were a lot of designers interviewed, this man caught my attention because of his simple explanation of the typeface and how it came to be. He explained the roots of Helvetica akin to the art movement at that point in time and so proficiently made connections between the popular artistic styles of that time and their relation to the typeface. Granted that this is all purely opinion, and could essentially be seen as turning lead into gold, but he had a reason better than the simple "I like it, its simple and looks good".
All in all, I found the film to be quite fun and interesting. Typeface is one of those things that you are surrounded with, but never really give a second glance or thought. Hell, until I saw this film for the first time I never knew what typeface was. But this film makes it interesting by diving into the anatomy and dissecting it from every angle. It really makes you understand what typeface is, how it came to be, how it is created, and how it is effectively used.
While the film, admittedly, was quite long, it retained my attention for far longer than I thought by presenting a hundred and one different viewpoints from many industry designers. These interviews injected an element of fun as all of these people were enthusiastic characters that each had a theory on how Helvetica came to be, what inspired its creation, etc.
I give this film two thumbs up, a must see for any design or art student. Now typeface may not be my shtick, that's why I bought its sister film, Objectified!