03 Nov Behind the Designs: Senior Designer, Jay Talks Fonts
When it comes to fonts, more isn’t always merrier. With so many options to choose from, sometimes it’s tough to tell the tried and true from the merely trendy.
We asked our lead designer, Jay, to shed some light on the issue for us. A true font aficionado, he told us about a personal favorite, and what makes it so perfect for so many designs.
It turns out there’s actually a movie about this classic font, Helvetica. “I know what you’re thinking,” he laughed. “One: Seriously, there’s a movie about a typeface? and Two: Seriously, you watched a movie about a typeface?”
For Jay, it’s a resounding yes to both questions, and here’s why:
First of all, it’s the English of the font world—as close to a universal language as you get. “Everyone knows Helvetica,” Jay explains. “Maybe not by name, but it is everywhere. In the PC world, Helvetica and its disfigured twin Arial are the default sans-serif fonts of many web pages and Word documents. That may seem to imply that it’s a throwaway typeface, like the soy-sauce packets in Chinese takeout, but that’s only because of our overexposure. Dismissing Helvetica is like taking air for granted.”
Beyond that, however, Jay’s sensibilities as a designer lead him to an appreciation of the font. “It’s a beautifully balanced font, particularly the bold and thin styles; so well balanced and elegant that it tends to disappear, leaving other elements to define the message.”
According to Jay, Helvetica is the way to go if what you want to stand out is the concept, not the font. “Unlike many of today’s often horribly designed typefaces, oozing with so much personality that their name often defines their only use, Helvetica simply implores you to notice the idea,” he said. “Because of its versatility and readability, you can play with it. It invites you to.”
Helvetica’s beauty and utility come from its minimalist lines and the purity of its design, which allows for the real star to be the words rather than their vehicle. “Perhaps it’s my Modern design sensibility,” says Jay, “but I find that Helvetica neatly slips into that ‘less is more’ category, as an ultimate distillation of a concept. When Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann finished designing it. It was done. They put down their #2 pencils and walked away. Not everyone appreciates Helvetica, but it’s just my type!”