“Typography is the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form.” – Robert Bringhurst
I remember when I was a kid sitting at my AST 4066d listening to “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” (1995 rocked!) playing around with fonts and designing logos. I managed to spend hours upon hours just tinkering and getting it just right! Granted, they were still fugly.
I guess that was when I fell in love with typography. Changing between them I felt like they said something completely different. It was amazing that text could have personality. Just like I found that words had. They could be soft, edgy, cute, sexy, hard to stomach etc.
Years later I was chatting with a former scenographer about typefaces. He mentioned that he’d had a favorite that he used to label everything. It was like that typeface just looked right, fit his name and was easy to spot. I was intrigued and asked if he could describe it or if he remembered its name. He gave me some suggestions and I looked them up but couldn’t find a match.
Throughout the years it’s been a pet peeve of mine that I couldn’t solve the problem. I’ve had moments when i’ve studied typography on my own and just delved as deep as I could just to keep it fresh. Everytime I have this has popped up in my mind.
Something cool happened this time though. I was going up an escalator and noticed the typeface on a guy’s guitar case. I’d seen the logo before but never really taken a closer look. It looked like the typeface he described years before. I took a picture and sent it to him. He said it was pretty close but he couldn’t be sure.
I tried to find out what the Ovation typeface was called to no avail.
But now I felt one step closer. It was some kind of stencil typeface.
While researching typefaces and different type foundries I found so many cool typefaces to add to my arsenal.
This is how weirdly some things work. I’d just about let go of the typeface thing and started to move on to the next project. I was heading to the subway listening to “Love Is In The Air” by John Paul Young when I got out my phone to send a text and there it was.
Now, I don’t know how many times i’ve looked at the picture used on Spotify but this time I really saw it. This typeface was easy to figure out. It was Futura Black. This is weird because I really love the Futura family. I just hadn’t thought of that one during the search.
I got excited and sent him a mail asking him to check out “Futura Black”. Turned out that was it. Finally! Mystery solved!
Now, what one might think here is: “So I had the answer in my Spotify playlist all along? Man, i’m so stupid.”. That’s where we’d be wrong.
A friend of mine once said something very wise. The man told her: “Yes, I hear you”. She answered: “Yes, you hear me but you aren’t listening!”.
So, why am I telling you this?
This is kind of what we do. We hear but we don’t listen. We look but we don’t see.
The only time we really stop and notice stuff is when we make a concious effort to do it.
After he confirmed that this was indeed the typeface we started talking about other stuff like photography. I’d recently stumbled across Peter Hurley and enjoyed his advice on photography so I mentioned that.
After he’d watched a video he said: “Yeah, almost seems like models or people who like to have their picture taken have that innately. Maybe they had a good photographer who knew those tricks?”.
This got me thinking. How much stuff are we missing out on? Things that we take for granted or write off as people just “having a knack”. What if we could figure out what it is and how it works? Maybe the answers are really simple.
I saw an interview with Bishop T.D Jakes where he told a story about when he was on a safari in Africa. During the safari a zoologist had been talking about the elephant and its habitat, however he’d failed in finding it during the outing. There was a zulu on this safari as well. He hadn’t spoken for the entire trip. The zulu wet his finger, put it in the air and said: “The elephant is over there”.
What this story is supposed to illustrate is the difference between intellect and intuition. Some people just know but when you ask them they might not be able to explain. Others can explain it but they might be unable to show it. But when both of these mesh?
You got some good gumbo going!
Peter Hurley | Photography – It’s All About The Jaw!
Helvetica – Typeface Documentary
Objectified – Design Documentary