Typography – it’s a lovely word : “ the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language …” . Signs, Text ( proper text that is, the sort that is printed in books) , packaging and so on, they all contain examples of typographical style.
Most people go through their everyday lives unaware that their buying habits and responses to the the world are dictated by typefaces. As our tastes change, typefaces go in and out of fashion. Here are some examples:
Unfashionable – Cooper Bold, just too Seventies, Comic Sans ( beloved of Playgroups everywhere), whenever I’m presented with a anything written in Comic Sans I feel deeply patronised, it says to me, even a child can understand this. It can also say “you will have fun”. I used to work for someone who sent out nasty memos in Comic Sans – talk about mixed messages!
Have a look at this website http://www.comicsanscriminal.com/ . Other faces with a “do not use” sticker attached are; Broadway (Art Deco, now very “yesterday”) and Old English (“we need something that’s looks “old”, ah, this one will do.”There’s only one fashionable face at the moment – Gill Sans, as seen in the ubiquitous Keep Calm and Carry… signs .Despite over use, its a wonderful style. Thankyou Eric Gill. Thankyou also for Perpetua, a very elegant face. The dullest, most functional typeface is Arial, beloved of teacher handouts, In the past I have been told at various learning establishments that this typeface must be used because it’s easy to read. Typeface Fascism.
Homemade signs with DIY typefaces, are rife on the Marsh. I have begun (why?) to collect examples. You might think there are better things to get worked up about, but this is the face (literally) we present to our visitors. These appalling examples of signage make us look like uneducated savages. Dawbed signs for “Snak bars” “Accomadation” and “Kaff” are amongst recent sitings. I call it “Dym Sans Bold”.
On a brighter note Dungeness artist Paddy Hamilton has noticed a prevalent style of signwriting which seems to be particular to the fishermen of the area. It’s strange but the redoubtable harvesters of the sea appear to have an inbuilt genetic ability to write decent signs. To this end Paddy has developed a typeface which he has appropriately named “Dungeness”. Like all good typefaces it evokes a certain vernacular that is peculiar to fishermen. To quote from his website – “The premise of the DUNGENESS FONT is to create a useful font, derived from the many hand painted signs along the coastal roadside, promoting the fishermen’s beach produce, businesses and services offered at Dungeness.” http://www.paintings-for-sale.net/font-dungeness.html have a look at Paddys’ excellent web pages.Back to my “bete noir”… can people please take more care with their notices? Some signs are no better than the graffitti and “tags” that upright citizens get so angry about. All I ask is for amateur typographers to take a lead from the fishermen typographers. Have a little more care with your lettering work and help improve the face .that we present to the outside world.
NB. For anyone who wants to read a really good, amusing book on typefaces, try “Just My Type” by Simon Garfield.