28 July 2021
Developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with input from Eduard Hoffmann, this typeface, very quickly, became one of the most popular typefaces of the 20th century.Originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, it was changed to Helvetica which is "Swiss" in Latin. This capitalised on Switzerland's reputation as a centre of ultra-modern graphic design and helped to sell the typeface abroad.Helvetica provided something that designers wanted: a neutral typeface apparently devoid of personality, that had great clarity, and could be used on a wide variety of signage. Indeed it's featured on signage from the New York subway to previous South Korean and Japanese road signs.Helvetica has also been used for countless logos (please see the image above).Versions exist for Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Khmer, and Vietnamese alphabets. Chinese faces have been developed to complement Helvetica.Derivative designs based on Helvetica were rapidly developed, taking advantage of the lack of copyright protection in the phototypesetting font market of the 1960s onward. One could argue that such a trend has remained ongoing.As you may know from our previous newsletter, Arial was created for IBM to substitute for Helvetica—without IBM having to pay Linotype for a Helvetica license on its printers.IBM used Helvetica Neue as its corporate typeface until 2017. Like many big corporations, IBM now has its own bespoke typeface, saving over $1m annually on licensing fees.If you have a Mac, it probably came with Helvetica installed and licensed. This shot Helvetica into the hands of everyone, not only designers, helping to maintain its popularity and relevance over the decades.Here at MOTHandRUST, we don't tend to use Helvetica, as it is so overused—the American designer and design historian Paul Shaw puts it best: "Helvetica is an invasive and drug-resistant species that may never be eradicated. Even designers who don't often use it in their own work take pride in the fact that it is such a persistent cultural icon."
9 April 2021
The "Caslon," typeface was designed by William Caslon I (1692–1766,) Britain's first and most celebrated typefounder. Caslon is used to set the quote above.
Ironically, rather than using an American font, the first printed version of the United States Declaration of Independence is set in Caslon. This may have been the influence of Benjamin Franklin. Not only was he a scientist and one of the founding fathers of the United States of America—he was also a printer. He loved the fonts made by William Caslon so much that he hardly used anything else.
Caslon has been revived at various times over the past 300 years, and it continues to be a standard in typography even to this day. Here at MOTHandRUST, it is one of our favourites. It is perfect for something timeless; it will never look dated. It is versatile and can work for most applications. For a more current look, it pairs nicely with modern typefaces. And it’s just beautiful.
15 February 2019RICHARD PRINCE joke seriesHi MLE, How the written word can be used to convey a message, not only literally, but also visually, as always been a bit of an obsession for me. Religious calligraphy, dada poetry, even people’s handwriting… So, when Richard Prince’s “Early Joke Paintings” came to London, at the Skarstedt Gallery, I had to check it out.Spanning the period from 1988 - 1992, the format for each joke it always the same. Each joke is isolated on a large canvas, painted in plain block letters against a field of colour.On a canvas in a gallery, they seem strangely out of context. The jokes get repeated, reframed. They go from funny to not funny to annoying.As Time Out's Eddy Frankel said, "Maybe the joke’s on us. And if it is, then it’s absolutely hilarious."I noticed that one of these paintings sold recently for $2.5 USD. If I had the cash, I would definitely invest.Have a nice weekend!Suzan
10 June 2016
Hey Hey the MLE,
A couple weeks ago I got the latest newsletter from Hoefler&Co Fonts which discussed stylistic sets for webfonts. Always a bit exciting for me, as it shows that we have taken another little step forward to achieving more control over type online.
As you can see in the images above, there are many controls: commercial ampersands, raised punctuation, short-tailed Qs, etc etc... *rubs hands together.
Okay, true that stylistic sets have been around for awhile now, but I haven't really jumped on using them, as there was still some questions re browser support as well as load times. But now these are less of an issue, I am looking forward to trying them out.
Have a nice weekend my friend,