You sit alone at a cocktail party and a rather short greasy fellow wearing thick black framed glasses and an argyll sweater makes his way to your table to talk to the other outcast in hopes of a connection. He sits and begins talking about his life and in particular his much beloved job, which is a typographer. Now, you have heard of this job but never really made a conscious connection to the reality of the position. From the excessive detail and overwhelming sense of obsession that leaks from the man’s mouth gives you a sense that it is one of those jobs that takes over your life and becomes a lifestyle rather than a job. The typeface lifestyle. As if this eager lad sees himself walking down the street and is surrounded by bouncing letters of varying typeface and size, instead of the teeming crowds of people. And as he begins to talk on about the truth of how truly all-encomapssing typeface actually is. You are trying to tune him out but some of his words begin to worm themselves into your mind, and you see that he may actually have a point.
The documentary Helvetica is the talker in my story. It is laden with detail and words that at first seem frivolous and without much depth. Why would you talk about typeface? Why is it important? However, I began to see that typeface is, like the people in the documentary said, like air or oxygen. It can be taken for granted as a part of life without realizing how it came to be or why it is so integral to our lives. In a whirlwind of realization, I came to a conscious awareness of font. That is not to say I had not noticed it before, given I am a designer, however I saw them as useful tools instead of actual art in and of themselves. Typeface can be an art and people’s lives are inextricably tied to them.
I have a new appreciation of the position of typographer and of typeface itself, however I still don’t like comic sans. Will never like comic sans.
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