So, I’m about to finish my final semester of college. After these last 6 years of on/off schooling due to various circumstances, I’m finally about to make it! I honestly can’t even explain how excited I am about this, I just know that I’m going to work harder this semester than I ever have before. I’m just gonna do it.
I know I’ve had some problems with sleep (specifically hearing my alarms and waking up on time, I still don’t really know why I’m such an insanely deep sleeper), but I’m changing a couple things in my life in hopes that it’ll affect my sleep in a positive manner. I also bought another alarm clock, but this one is a special “bed-shaker” alarm clock that goes under your mattress or pillow (I’m putting it under my pillow because the stronger it is, the better for me) and when it’s time to wake up, it vibrates intensely. Since I’ve noticed that I wake up easier when physical methods are used, I figured that this might help! We’ll see what happens.
My course schedule this semester is pretty great, I’m taking Spatial Experience, Degree Project Pt. 2, Typography 4, Graphic Design History, and Japanese Language & Culture 2 Online. For this particular post, I’ll be focusing on my first Type 4 assignment.
The first project consists of three interrelated parts based on the topic that we chose for our Degree Project:
Since most of my research for my degree project was based on shorter articles, I was worried about having a lack of content to work with and have chosen a new topic/source. I’ll be using Sigmund Freud’s book, “Civilization and Its Discontents” where he addresses humanity in relation to civilization. I had actually read this book about a year ago and since there are some really beautiful and thought provoking excerpts found throughout the book, I figured that this would be a good substitute topic.
Here are some potential typefaces/font families for my project as well as a quote from Robert Bringhurst’s “The Elements of Typographic Style” and a brief explanation for the selection.
“Choose faces that suit the task as well as the subject.”
Considering that the subject is humanity, a Humanist/Old Style typeface seems like an appropriate solution. This family builds on the original Caslon typeface, enhancing it for modern printing methods and includes a large variety of weights and features to be used.
“Choose faces whose individual spirit and character is in keeping with the text.”
This particular font was designed with the idea of making the serifs as large as possible. Characteristically, I found this interesting and it immediately brought to mind the content in Freud’s work. In one particular section, he says:
“Today he [man] has come very close to the attainment of this ideal, he has almost become a god himself… Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent, but his organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times.”
The way he speaks of man’s inventions as being auxiliary organs that aid him, and yet can also hinder him is metaphorically akin to the exaggerated serifs in this font. While Pathos is ideal for characteristically charming titles and subheads and can work in body text, for this content, it would be more practical to be applied in display texts.
“On close inspection, typefaces reveal many hints of their designers’ times and temperaments, and even their nationalities and religious faiths. Faces chosen on these grounds are likely to give more interesting results than faces chosen through mere convenience of availability or coincidence of name”
This particular typeface was created based on Sigmund Freud’s handwriting on his preserved documents. Of course, if the goal is legibility and practicality, this wouldn’t work well for body text with large amounts of content… but I think this would be a beautiful accent/display typeface used carefully and sparingly.
“As a rule, a face of modest merits should be handled with great discretion, formality and care. It should be set in modest sizes… with caps well spaced, the lines well leaded, and the lower case well fitted and modestly kerned… In short, the typography should be richly and superbly ordinary, so that attention is drawn to the quality of the composition, not to the individual letterforms.”
In the search for a humanist sans serif, I came across this font. It is actually used for traffic signs and wayfinding systems, which is actually pretty appropriate since such things are so core to civilization in more ways than just its’ intended purpose. It’s nice and structured and offers many options in terms of weights and usability due to its high legibility.
“Choose a face whose historical echoes and associations are in harmony with the text… The typographer seeks to shed light on the text, to generate insight and energy, by setting every text in a face and form in which it actually belongs.”
Given that Freud was an Austrian, I went about searching for a typeface from that geographic origin as well as some light research on the general design/typographic movement and trends of that time. Since I was unable to find much info regarding Austrian design during this time, I opted for German historical trends due to its close history and shared language with Austria. During this period, the Geometric Sans Serif classification of type was sweeping the nation and so I crossed reference that classification with the Austrian/German origin and found Neuzeit. The font was designed by German designer Wilhelm Pischner in 1928, and was created to be a timeless font with no distinguishing characteristics.
“Pair serifed and unserifed faces on the basis of their inner structure. When the basic text is set in a serifed face, a related san serif is frequently useful for other elements, such as tables, captions, or notes. In complicated texts, such as dictionary entries, it may also be necessary to mix unserifed and serifed fonts on the same line. If you’ve chosen a family that includes a matched sans serif, your problems may be solved.”
This is a great superfamily that includes 7 weights for each (sans/serif). The family is modeled in the Scotch Roman genre, and is the Sans version is similar to 19th century gothic/grotesque styles. Overall, this family lends itself well to some heavy body copy usage as well as some playful titles and relationships between the two.
“Choose faces that can furnish whatever special effects you require. If your text includes an abundance of numerals, you may want a face whose numerals are especially well designed… A book involving more than one alphabet therefore poses some of the same questions posed by a bilingual or polylingual book…”
In the book, Freud shares excerpts from other texts, which was often actually shown in its native German form. Brando Sans is a contemporary humanist that covers over 90+ languages, ensuring that a lack of characters would not be a concern. While Brando is designed to be optimal for handing complex design, it features effectively distinctive characteristics to add to its overall personality.
“Choose faces that suit the paper you intend to print on, or paper that suits the faces you wish to use… Geometric Modernist types such as Futura, and overhauled Realist types such as Helvetica, can be printed on rough and smooth papers alike, because they are fundamentally monochrome… But the aura of machine precision that emanates from a type like Futura is reinforced by a smooth paper and contradicted (or counterbalanced) by a paper that feels homespun.”
Yet another typeface chosen with the Geometric style in mind, Scandia is based on its angular counterpart, Scandia Line, but substitutes curves for angularity. While the main type weights are functional and minimal, this family also offers a stenciled version that evokes the images of strong man-made structures. Perhaps I’m only making this association because I know the content of the book and thusly am open to such connections.
“Choose faces whose individual spirit and character is in keeping with the text.”
Joanna Nova was created as a renewed version of the original Joanna font designed by Eric Gill (Gill Sans guy). During the process of updating this font design, Ben Jones (the new designer) noticed that Joanna’s original designs featured different characteristics than the Joanna that was introduced to the public. In an attempt to reveal the “true” identity of the type, Jones went back and studied the forms while understanding that the concept was the main focus, working the forms to create the font that is Joanna Nova. This process of questioning the original font is comparable to the way that Freud seeks to answer questions regarding the birth and causes of civilization as well as its future.
“But a face that truly suits a historical text is likely to have some fairly clear historical content of its own.”
This particular font draws from a 1930s design by Arno Drescher, a popular sans serif that was known as the East German Futura. Featuring tall ascenders and a low x-height, the clean, geometric style of the typeface would lend itself well to the Bauhaus approach of form follows function.