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JOURNAL by Jessica Howard



Type is everywhere. It’s painted on the streets we drive over daily. It’s on the food labels that we consume daily. It’s in the books we read, on our shoes and clothes, and even on the signs that inform us where the restrooms are. To say that type isn’t prevalent in our daily lives would be, simply put, a lie. It’s the most basic method of information portrayal, like that of speech. Whether the type that invades our lives daily could be considered “good” or not is a completely subjective topic, but one that is discussed often by those in the typographic field. Questions are asked daily: is this type arranged well? Is this typeface effective for the message being conveyed? And even the seeminlgy most important question of all, is it even readable? The only way to decide these things is to go out into the world and see type for yourself. With all of the examples out there, it’s not to difficult to form one’s own ideas about type and the information is conveys, whether well represented or not.


table of contents weekly type explorations

week one–downtown places week two–book covers week three–restaurants week four–craft store items week five–perfumes week six–organic grocery week seven–cleaners week eight–instant foods week nine–coffee packages week ten–energy bars week eleven–hair supplies week twelve

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

reading responses

Doyald Young 16 Hellvetica 17 Stefan Bucher 18 Marian Bantjes 19 Margo Chase 20 Kit Hinrichs 21 Artist Series by Hillman Curtis 22


week one–downtown places “Sans-serif in the city” was the first theme I went for. From restuarants to salons, font choices varied, both effectively and not effectively. My favorite was definitely Puetro Tagwa–not only was the typeface simple and sophisticated, but having it cut from the wood was a nice touch.


While the books on my roommate’s desk could be considered “teeny” or “trendy”, the typefaces used were still something to consider. Script-like type was a common choice, and bold lettering that filled up the entire cover instead of images was not so common, but still made an appearance.

week TWO–book covers


week THREE–restaurants They have a pretty prominent role in American society. Let’s face it: they’re everywhere. But how do the less common franchises get their voices out to the world? Through type of course. While most panasian places utilize that stereotypical thin sans-serif, I enjoyed Bonefish Grill’s attention to their own name to use a unique “bony” typeface in their logo.


The craft store was chock full of unique brands with their own specific logotypes to convey a “DIY” type of message to whoever purchased. Many constisted of names of company owners or sponsors, whereas a company like Recollections utilized a simple yet elegant typeface to convey a sort of “memory making” feel to their products.

week four–craft store items


week FIVE–perfumes While type is incorporated on the bottles, most perfumes are more determined to have unique bottle shape to convey their scents. Most hoped to hold an heir of sophistication with their type, especially the male cologne. Sophistication and boldness–just like the scent that perfumes hope to create.


Organic grocery items tend to lean more towards a “less corporate look� and a more individualized one. More earthy tones, more jagged fonts, and more creative designs, all to convey that the foods are natural and stand out from the crowd.

week six–organic grocery


week Seven–cleaners There seems to be a pattern with cleaning supplies: bold, 3D looking letters, all at an ascending angle. The only one that hoped the break the mold was Seventh Generation, who only saw it fit to slap their simple type onto a green leaf. Where’s the individuality?


Being in college means gratuitous amounts of instant foods. I found that most of the brands saw it fit to use font matching techniques in order to make the food seem more “gormet” and less like it was coming from a can or box. Eye catching colors and typefaces were a perfect pick to bring much-needed attention to these products.

week eight–instant foods


week nine窶田offee packages As a staple beverage for many people across the world, coffee companies have to make their product seem unique and personal in some way, and I was amazed at how many ways it was possible. From jagged letters, to checkered letters, and even a simple script font, there are several different ways coffee packages are branded, each communicating a different feel.


Bold, sans-serif fonts seemed to be the most commonly used for energy bars, being that most purchasers want to be just that: bold. There seemed to be a major shift from “energy bars” to “weight loss bars” however, as seen in a change of type weight.

week Ten–energy bars


week eleven–hair supplies From old classics like Aqua Net to Pert, which recently rebranded, hair products always seem to be trying new ways to convey that they create healthy hair. There seems to be an uprise in thin, Art Deco like type, as seen in Crew and Salon Grafix.


With technology on the rise, websites have become another prominent item in the identity business. I found that the majority of websites go for lowercase and rounded sans-serifs, but in a vast array of colors and weights.

week TWelve–websites


The Art of Lettering

from Doyald Young - Logotype Designer

There’s no question about it: in today’s day and age, everything is becoming digitized. From car renderings, to animated motion pictures, and even to the billboards we pass by on the highway, many designs that permeate our daily lives were once on a computer screen. But what about before that? In many cases, most designs begin humbly, as a sketch by an artist, usually in pencil, or ink, on paper. One could consider this stage of a design more lowly than the final, but typeset Doyald Young would gladly beg to differ. Claiming to have been drawing letters since 1948, Young believes that when creating elegant and intricate designs, the hand work using pencil is a critical stage in the type’s development. In fact, as an instructor at Art Center College of Design, he encourages his students to fully develop typesets by hand, only digitizing in the final stages to recreate the letters into an infinite number of sizes. His work is seen in a number of places, from chain restaurant The Cheesecake Factory’s logo, to realty company Prudential’s unique logotype, inspired by Century. In an anecdote concerning this particular logo, he highlighted the process of appropriating a

“friendly” appearance into the a word, and the steps taken to create the logo. Showing a sense of humbleness, he calls himself neither a type designer nor a calligrapher, despite designing Young Baroque, a formal script type, and Eclat, a brushstroke-like type. Rather, he views his letters as if each of them are a unique pencil artwork. Often, he claims that script type is formal and dignified; and therefore, it is a timeless and important art-form, seen on birth certificates as well as death certificates. Every stroke he creates is purposeful. In his book, Fonts and Logos, he highlights upon the importance of the most miniscule changes to letters and how greatly they affect the feel of the entire typeset. Like his work, Young uses thought processes and techniques that perfectly describe his work: timeless, and innately understood. By focusing on intricate details and maintaing and heir of knowledge and enthusiasm to spread knowledge by teaching, he encompasses a higher understanding about letters. Though every typeset he creates is custom, the letters do not change; they maintain a stability. Young carries with him a message that has inspired entire generations of designers; a message about the importance of handiwork and attention to detail. written by Jessica Howard


Saying its name can bring as many moans and groans as it can excitement and smiles. It brings joy where it brings greif and head shaking. There’s no doubt that it’s almost as well known as infamous typefaces such as Comic Sans and Papyrus. Some designers even argue that it is as horrid as these two aformentioned typefaces. While there is a huge amount of conflicted responses about the Swiss typeface that was developed and popularized in the early 1960’s, there is one thing everyone can agree on: it’s everywhere. One cannot go two steps without seing the sans serif plastered on street signs, buildings, trashcans and even in your favorite company’s logotype. And while some believe the world is marred by its abundance, others are graciously accepting of it. Helvetica is a relatively well designed typeface that is eye-catching and simplistic, known for its relatively elongated x-height, giving it a mainly horizontal composition. During it’s time, it was praised for it’s readability and relative simplicity. Today, this still holds true. It is still regarded as the default choice when one wants to utilize a sans serif typeface. And many believe this is the main issue at hand.

While arguing that Helvetica started the Vietnam conflict is a little farfetched, saying that it permeates our existence consistently is not so much. It has truly become something that is a standard for a company attempting to reach some degree of public relation. Whether it suceeds or fails is up to indicidual interpretation, but it must have some positive attributes since it is so prevalent in company identity systems. Who could forget the disastorous rebranding of Gap back in 2010? Helvetica Neue bold with a blue gradient box behind it brought with it a huge uprising from the design community as much as it did from the public. Everyone knew it looked horrible, but how do other clothing companies like American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, and American Apparel get away with it? But they’re not alone in their pursuit. The main problem with the typeface is it’s unquestionable abundance, and many designer’s laziness to utilize such a common typeface that makes companies appear to be like all the others with similar logotypes. While it can reflect ingenuity and integrity, it does not reflect originality, which is a key component of design.


One anecdote Bucher uses happened after graduating from Art Center College of Design and being thrown into his first job, where he was instructed to create 600 compositions for a single project. After receiving the comment that the number he created was “absurd”, Bucher then obtained a major design philosophy: that what they really wanted was his advice and idea, which he did not have 600 of.


Being that Bucher has set his roots in illustrative art, he utilizes such methods in his graphic work, especially in print. He pays close attention to inks he can effectively utilize and which most greatly contributes to the initial design. Besides working geometrically and typographically, he also exposes his talent through his ink drawings, which are prominent in his “The Daily Monster.”

MARIAN BANTJES is a Vancouver based designer who is well known for her illustrative take on type design. As a freelance artist, she works from her island home, creating unique custom typographic projects with intricate illustrative care, while at the same time, maintaining a comfortable lifestyle of sleeping and collecting dirt from her various travels around the world. With beginnings in typesetting, Bantjes owes her design roots to book arts. She marvels in the simple the simple structure of the table of contents page and even the spacing of the publisher’s information. As an early designer, she utilized the most traditional of materials; computer graphics, letterpresses, and other common methods to create such works. Her rise to fame was based on her unique attention to odd materials to create unique design works with illustrative elements. One of her most well known works uses sugar as the material to create traces of text on a primarily white composition–thepiece is characterized by subtlety. She is also attributed to her hearts that are constructed from letters.


As a successful freelance graphic designer, Margo Chase takes extreme pride in her work as much as she does her studio and working processes. As a designer who began working on album covers for the music business, Chase wanted to surpass the expectations of what was simply “pretty” and “cool” and create substantial work that is both visually engaging and conceptually sound. Often she seeks inspiration from her studio’s library–a collection of vintage books laden with interesting examples of typography from the past. She seeks to find the reasons beyond design with her work, by thinking strategically and planning in unique ways to generate thought with her


designs. When branding for companies, she mainly focuses on the development of a specific persona to cater the design to, rather than focusing on a broad demographic. Her work also ranges to creating style guides for companies, including Starbucks. Quite often in the design world, she is labeled as “gothic” for her taste in black clothing and taste in the unique and bizarre styles of art. While the label is sometimes undefinable and broad, Chase has developed typefaces such as Cruella (used in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer logo) that she believes fits the bill for the term. In spite of this, Margo Chase still holds her weight in the design world with a unique body of prolific work and an unrelenting spirit to match.

As a graduate of Art Center College of Design as well as an exmember of Pentagram design firm, Kit Hinrichs follows a design philosophy that adores derisive tactics that create identities for companies that are both sustainable and that cater to their own personal mission. His line of work includes @issue, a magazine that focuses on design solutions for big name companies, logo for the California Academy of Science, and even the identity system for the Muzak company. He often prides himself in being “young at heart,� which is an essential for designers, in spite of his actual age of 68. Often his inspiration is drawn from his many collectibles, including an expansive array of American flags, which hold a great significance to him personally, as he believes them to have a significant value, both aesthetically and historically.


Arist Series

by Hillman Curtis

When it comes to design, it’s important to draw inspiration from sources that one can relate to most effectively. Hillman Curtis, a documentary filmmaker, set out to film multiple designers considered effective in their own field, to see where they draw inspiration from and what methods they have used to make them successful in their fields today.

David Carson Creator of Ray Gun magazine, monumental for this exaggerated uses of type to highlight certain points in articles that he deems as visual expression worthy.

Milton Glaser As an older designer, he was a prominent poster designer of the past, but to this day offers teaching to younger designers and is a collector and appreciator of poster designs today.

Paula Scher She takes pride in creating the “visual style� of New York, but also relishes in her own personal exploits in making hand drawn visual systems, like her on-going world map project.


James victore By utilizing hand inked illustrations, Victore often creates work that incorporates striking visual systems with what could be considered shock value, bringing insight to issues that are often ignored by the public.

STEFAN SAGMEISTER Often utilizing humor in his work, Sagmeister also is known for his gritty and unexpected uses of typography, and utilizes hand-done art to create striking compositions.

pentagram As the most well-known and considered the most successful of all design firms, Pentagram boasts artists from multiple fields that collaborate to create works seen across the entire world.


Jessica's Type Journal  

Spring 2012

Jessica's Type Journal  

Spring 2012