I want to kick off this post by saying that for a really long time – like, until my lecture on Wednesday – I wasn’t even aware that there was a difference between a font and a typeface. I just kind of figured that they were interchangeable. So clearly that lecture was a learning experience. Consider me educated!!! (And, in case now YOU’RE wondering, “Just what IS the difference??”: The typeface is the design of each letter in the alphabet. So like, Times New Roman, Comic Sans, etcetera. Once you get in to using italic, or bolding, or variations like Calibri Light, then you’re talking about fonts. Who knew?!) Despite it’s prevalence in our everyday lives, I am relatively unfamiliar with the wonderful world of typography. I feel like this is largely due to the fact that we’re pretty used to seeing a wide variety of typefaces ALL THE TIME: on posters, in books, on your computer screen, everywhere. And if the design is good, usually we don’t even really notice it, apart from reading the text. It’s only when typography is poorly done, like if it’s ugly or out of place or hard to read, that we take note. So when I was trying to consider successful examples of typography – or just examples of typography to analyze in general – despite the fact that it’s EVERYWHERE, I really had to wrack my brain to think of some! I did finally come up with the resulting list though, so I hope you enjoy it! It contains two examples that I really like, one that I find fairly effective albeit not particularly attractive, and one that I’m not so into.
BOY “Mutual Friends” album cover
I am a big fan of this use of typography!! Because the image is so simple and muted, I feel like it would have been a mistake to chose an energetic, in-your-face typeface. By picking something bold but minimalistic and clean, the type co-exists nicely with the image instead of overpowering it. Having listened to this album, I can attest to the fact that the overall vibe cultivated by this text and image pairing – mellow, spare, warm – is really in line with BOY’s sound. Looking at the album art and listening to the music leave produce the same feelings in the consumer, if you know what I mean. I’m not confident but I would guess that the typeface being used here is Futura (or something quite like it), which can most commonly be found in the films of Wes Anderson! SPEAKING OF WHICH!
Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”
I know, I know: Wes Anderson is a cliched and uncreative choice to discuss because it’s SO DONE. But when I was trying to think of typography that I liked, his choices came immediately to mind because he work is so stylized and lovely that it stands to reason that of course his typography choices would be too. I find that they almost always succeed in capturing or adding to the mood that he is trying to create. The font he uses in this credit sequence in his film “Moonrise Kingdom” is really lovely and whimsical, which is also the pervasive mood throughout the film. This font also evokes the seventies through the bold capital letters and retro colour, and this is accurate because the film is set in the seventies! Additionally, the music during this section of the film is sort of bright, charming instrumental music, and this is a cheery font! I also really like the way the text is positioned and aligned. It is nicely centered and I like the way that the “Wes Anderson” text lines on the line created by the sand. The tone of this film is eccentric, dreamy and comical and this font reflects that with it’s loopy letters and big swirls. I also really like how the colour of the type matches the colour of the suitcase on the right!! For anyone who’s curious, the font in use here is called “Tilda” (I wish I could claim to know that off the top of my head, but it actually came up as a part of the Google results.)
Rice Krispies cereal box
Frankly, from a personal standpoint I am not a fan of the majority of cereal box typography I see. I find a lot of it mildly tacky and unattractive. HAVING SAID THAT, it does work for the product it’s selling. The bold, bright font works to grab the attention of the casual grocery shopper, and even more important, the CHILDREN of the casual grocery shopper! Because generally that seems to be the demographic that most cereal ads are trying to appeal to. They want the product to seem fun and exciting so children will try to convince their parents to buy it for them. In this respect the typography is largely succeeding because the rounded bubbly letters with their rounded edges and blue shadows suggest “child friendly!!!”. However, (while this isn’t a direct commentary on the typeface) I feel like the text would be more appealing to kids if it was more colourful. That might actually weaken the overall box design, but from a purely typographic standpoint, based on the demographic I feel like it would be an improvement.
Mystic Muffin signage
This is an interesting REAL LIFE example of typography because I took this photo at Mystic Muffin down on Jarvis Street! In terms of food I really love it because it is cheap and the signage does not lie – the apple cake is REALLY good. However tragically I’m not really digging the typography they’ve got going on. It’s kind of a wild jumble of fonts and none of them match. The main sign that says “Mystic Muffin” in red, doesn’t really work – based on the “mystic” part of the name, you might expect the letters to be kind of swirly and whimsical, to evoke a sense of “mysticism”, I suppose, but instead they are big and bubbly and kind of goofy looking. Then, underneath that, there is a smaller sign containing not one or two but THREE – count ’em, three – typefaces, all completely different and none-complimentary to each other. One is blocky and bold, one is kind of whirly-curly, and the third is an italic kind of deal that looks like it’s imitating real hand writing. I don’t know WHAT they’re trying to evoke through all these fonts because they’re all completely different! Perhaps they were just fond of all three and didn’t want to choose? Likewise, the apple cake sign to the left boasts another completely different font. It’s at least somewhat similar to the main sign in it’s boldness but it’s still pretty different. Altogether, the typography doesn’t evoke anything or add to the design of the restaurant’s exterior at all. It’s just random and ineffective. (Having said that, if you ever want good cheap food and friendly service I would highly recommend it!!!)