By Paul Stedman -
I blame Bill Gates. Someone has to be responsible.
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, Helvetica was one of the most popular typefaces around – it had the lot: style, class, elegance.
Helvetica was probably the first universal typeface and could be spotted in most environments from big businesses to transport, to clothing and then to luxury brands. A film was made detailing its popularity and usage. Helvetica was voted “Best Font of All Time” by a German foundry. Everyone was happy. Well, almost everyone: a predator was lurking…
The Microsoft Corporation needed an alternative to shelling out licensing fees for using Helvetica on their Windows Operating System. So, in 1990 the font Arial was born as an alternative – some would say imitation – to Helvetica. While the two fonts look similar, there are subtle, but key, differences. The
Here’s the paradox: Helvetica is popular and people love it; Arial is more popular and is loathed. It’s all about the “imitation” factor – you would be amazed at the bad blood that can be generated within refined typographic circles about “clone fonts”. As a taster, go to
The Medium Is In The Message
At ICP I work on the Avon account and use Arial all the time. The fonts’ weakness and pervasiveness is its strength. Our need to create text in a myriad of foreign languages – Turkish, Greek, Czech, Serbian, Russian, and
I suppose I am what you might call a Type Geek. No trip on the Underground is complete without me taking an opportunity to admire the classic quality of the fonts on tube maps (Johnston Sans); a trip to the City of London leaves me
To borrow a famous phrase – The Medium is the Message: How type is used says a lot about a company or organisation and the message it seeks to convey. EasyJet, for instance, and their use of Cooper Black: The font might not be everyone’s cuppa', but it has a certain retro, even kitsch, appeal. When combined with its corporate orange colour, (PMS021C) you are left in no uncertain manner who are you dealing with and what they are trying to say – “We’re fun and friendly. So, hey, let’s fly to the Costa Brava”.
So, if Arial is the second most hated font: what is number one? That’s easy: Comic Sans. It’s more a case of the font’s inappropriate use, such as on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald. It might be suitable for a child’s party invitation, but not much else. There has been a campaign to have Comic Sans banned. The argument
Endless Fonts To Choose From
The assembly of