I started seriously paying attention to fonts when I was in college. I switched majors sometime in my junior year and began art/design classes. In one of my first design classes, I cut four Copperplate letter “T’s” out of Styrofoam so that I could lock them together, ink them and use them to make pattern prints.
Since then I’ve been in love with letters, or more specifically, letter forms of different fonts. When Stephen and I lived in Durham, we’d go out to dinner and Stephen would make me look at the menu and name the typefaces. Nerd party tricks! I often make decisions on competing products based on the fonts used. It’s actually something that we all do naturally; most people just don’t realize that they are making decisions based on readability or their personal comfort level with a particular font.
Yesterday I jumped into a new logo design project. I started making my list of possible font candidates. While I was browsing through the fonts I realized that I have history with these fonts. I remember past projects based on the fonts I used, which in turn makes me remember different events that happened while I was working on those projects.
Seeing some type faces are like seeing, well, faces of friends. There’s a few old workhorses that I’ve used so often that the projects blur together. These guys are dependable, classic and get the job done. There’s a few trendy, fun fonts that I don’t use often, but when I do they pack a punch and I remember them fondly. And then there’s my personal favorites that I have to be careful not to overuse. I love them dearly and have to remind myself that they don’t and can’t solve every design dilemma that I have. Then there are the dated fonts. Faces that scream “Disco 70’s” or “See? I’m a computer!” These fonts are so dated I wonder if there will ever be another use for them outside of kitschy party invites.
Every time I browse, I find fonts that I want to use for other projects. Sometimes, and this is my favorite, I’ll see a font and it’ll spark something for me and I’ll create a whole new project based on that idea.
When I spend the afternoon looking at fonts, I get excited all over again about the work I do. The launch of a new project is always exciting and picking out fonts is always my first stop on the journey to making something useful for someone.
So next time you are at your favorite restaurant, check out the font on the menu. You might or might not know the font’s name, but know that some designer somewhere loved it enough to put it in front of you.