Ransom Note (style)

Ransom-NoteFor my last post, I have saved the ugliest and most ridiculous for last. What could be more stupid than a font designed to look like an old fashioned ransom note? Oh wait, no. A font designed to look like a ransom note is pretty damn stupid. Here’s why.

 

History

There are a series of this style of typeface, so I am not going to zero in on just one. However, the point of this style of type is to look like a hurriedly cut out note from some type of criminal. A lot of them came with the explosion of crazy typefaces in the 90s, when digital type was starting to become popular.

 

Style

There is one major issue with this style of type, and that is the fact that it’s meant to look like a cut out collage of letters to form an  anonymous note. However, one may come to realize that all fonts don’t have a trace of handwriting in them from who typed it, so the point of this style seems silly in a font when you think about it. However, if you like a creepy kidnapper style of this font, then more power to you…or not because it looks idiotic. I would venture to say that this style fits in the grudge type category, along with a previous font I discussed called Bleeding Cowboys.

There is nothing uniform about the letter styles here, making it hard to read and often confusing to the eye. The letters are often formed by a collection of other fonts as well as some of them being boxed in with and without negative space coming into play.

 

Use

This kind of font is used for grungy and weird things, or it is misused. One famous use of this style is on the album covers of a band called The Sex Pistols. Other than that, it’s use is found in random places where it is so over the top you wonder why they just didn’t use Bleeding Cowboys as a better choice. Honestly, I don’t even understand why people use this kind of font. It makes no sense and whoever uses it probably is immature or has no idea what they are doing when it comes to design. Unfortunately, this is the case many times when it comes to bad fonts, and the overuse and misuse of them is why fonts become bad in the first place. Public Service Announcement: if you are unsure of what font to use, go simple and move on to color choice. It will make the world a better place. Over and out.

 

Source

“The 8 Worst Fonts in the World.” FastCoDesign. 28 October 2011. Accessed online 5 July 2014.

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Bodoni

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 11.03.24 AMBecause I did my last “good typeface” post on Baskerville, I thought it only acceptable to my next on Bodoni. This typeface quickly followed Baskerville and it’s modifications moved it’s type style to a new era: modern.

 

History

Here we have  a modern serif typeface designed by an italian man named Giambattista Bodoni in 1798. Bodoni was inspired under the ideas of John Baskerville when he designed his namesake typeface. However, Bodoni took said ideas to the next level by creating even more contrast between the thick and thin strokes, making letters more vertical, and greatly condensing width more  than Baskerville had ever done. Although the font Bodoni is considered “modern” today, some earlier drafts of it are said to be transitional alongside Baskerville. The style grew as the demand for more geometric and modern type did, so that is how Bodoni evolved to where it is today. That being said, there are many different versions of this font for almost any occasion, ranging from a large style poster face, to simple cold type versions. With it being so old, designers have done iteration after iteration of this famed font, making it the versatile beauty it is today.

Unlike Baskerville’s great failure when it was created, Bodoni seems to have been liked right off the bat. It was used in many italian books and publications of the time, and continued to be used throughout history.

 

Style

The style of Bodoni, like I mentioned before is modern. The increased push between the contrast of thick and thin strokes is the defining characteristic of this style, as well as the lean toward geometric form with more circular rounded sides and more vertical stems. It has a classic and fashionable feel to it, classic because of the traditional serifed roman letterform, and fashionable because of the geometric and light feel from the contrast.

 

Use

Bodoni is often used for fashion industries, such as Vogue Magazine, because of it’s class with a modern twist. However, it is also popular in the music industry. Lady Gaga and Nirvana have used it in album covers in a very fitting way. That is the beauty of Bodoni. It has many different feels to it based on how you look at it. It is simple enough to work for many things, but stylistic enough to make an impression. I would say Bodoni is applicable in a lot of situations, and it is easy to justify that situation because of the versatility here.

 

Source

“Bodoni: The History of Being Awesome.” ifoundmedinosaurs (wordpress blog). 25 November 2011. Accessed online 3 July 2014. 

 

Comic Neue

For the record, I don’t care if a font has been reborn or not. If you are the world’s most hated font, chances are people are still going to hate you no matter how much you straighten your stems or vary your weights. There are plenty of “casual” typefaces out there that need to be given a chance without your ugly (type)face popping up all over the place. That’s right, Comic Neue, I’m talking to you.

 

History

Comic Neue’s kick start was actually just now funded on the 13th of June in 2014. Now, call me crazy, but it just so happens that this particular 13th of June was on a Friday. Friday the 13th. Is that ironic or what? Either the Illuminati is out there being hilarious, or the graphic design gods have shone their light on this disgrace to type everywhere. Either way, it’s a bad sign already about this font.

 

One cool thing is that major internet browsers are replacing any Comic Sans out on the web with Comic Neue. Seeing that Comic Neue is at least more readable, this fixes bad design choices a little bit and I thank them for that.

 

Style

The people who designed Comic Neue claim that this new version of the ever-horrible Comic Sans keeps the casual feel to the font, but cleans it up. The strokes are straighter, the x-height is more consistent,  there is even an angled option, which is nice. However it is STILL what they are proposing we use it for that makes me bow my head in shame as a graphic designer for even letting this happen.

 

heroUse

Although this font has not been out to the public for too long, Comic Neue’s website claims that it is a more “correct” font to be used for all of the things Comic Sans was used for. ALL of them. Comic Sans is used for everything! See the problem already here? They claim that the use is casual, for a lemonade stand, or for a “passive aggressive office memo,” but little do they realize that IT STILL LOOKS LIKE IT IS INTENDED FOR FIVE-YEAR-OLDS.
I don’t care what they had in mind while they were designing it, the actual look and feel of the typeface is what it should be used for and that is for children or cutesy grandmas. No exceptions. Now if the website for the damn font said it was intended to be immature, then I wouldn’t have a problem with it because the style is correct and it is visually appealing for it’s feel and it is legible, but no. The Comic Neue crew is encouraging the same bullshit that goes on with Comic Sans. Not cool. Case closed.

 

Source

Rozyenski, Craig.  “Get Comic Neue.” ComicNeue.com. 13 June 2014. Accessed online 30 June 2014.

Baskerville

 

A classic typeface with a checkered past, what more could you want? Baskerville is loved by millions today, however it’s past begs to differ.

220px-BaskervilleSpec.svgHistory

Baskerville was designed by John Baskerville in 1757 in England. Baskerville is classified as a transitional typeface, meaning that it’s style was the stepping stone from old style typefaces such as Caslon, to modern typefaces such as Didot and Bodoni. Transitional typefaces tended to be disliked in their time, as people were so used to traditional type that the new changes seemed drastic to them, however today they are appreciated because they are one step down in contrast from the modern typefaces. The style difference will be discussed below.

When John Baskerville designed his namesake typeface, his goal was to perfect the styles of a much older typeface, Caslon. The idea was to make it more legible, for the time period was experimenting with readability as well as paper and ink manufacturing. However after Baskerville started to be used, many claimed that his style was “too stark” and the printing “damaged the eyes.” When the modern style typefaces were released, Bodoni in particular, Baskerville was pushed even further down on the shit list of type. This made poor old Baskerville essentially obsolete until 1917, when Bruce Rogers gave it life again for the Harvard University Press. After that, popularity increased dramatically, making Baskerville so well known today. Unfortunately John Baskerville passed in 1775, so he never got any real fame or wealth for his now loved font.

 

Style

As I mentioned earlier, Baskerville was inspired from the idea of perfecting Caslon. This was Baskerville’s idea of perfection, which was very subtle and simple. The only real flair he added was in the swash on the Q and in many of the uppercase letters in the italic version, which reflected his career as a professional writer. Other than that, John Baskerville focused on creating a higher contrast between thick and thin strokes, sharpening serifs, and shifting the axis of round letters to be more vertical. This also made the round strokes more circular, which resulted in more regular and consistent letterforms.

That being said, the difference between an old style typeface (Caslon), a transitional typeface (Baskerville), and a modern typeface (Bodoni) is mainly the contrast between thick and thin strokes. Old has the least contrast while modern has the most. If you can identify that, then you are pretty well off! It’s all very straightforward.

 

Use

Baskerville is used a lot today in academic publications, probably from the new life Harvard brought it. It is also used in the branding of Bob Evans, along with a lot of other “homestyle” brands. It’s transitional style has a clean look to it that has a bit of old-style flair; that is where the font’s personality lies. For what it is usually used for, the style fits perfectly and it seems to not have been too misused yet, which is good!

 

Source

Stanley, Paul. “Baskerville.” Typophile. 21 May 2005. Accessed online 28 June 2014.

 

Bleeding Cowboys

Ah, the newest annoying font to the large red-headed family of annoying fonts: Bleeding Cowboys. It seems that ever since this font was put out on the market in 2007, it has been exponentially used for way too many things that it could possibly be appropriate for. Image

 History

I could not find an exact history on this font, however from stalking the font’s source, dafont.com, I was able to dig up some clues. Bleeding Cowboys was first put up on DaFont.com, a free font download website, by Segments Design on July 6, 2007. Segments Design is a design firm that does just about everything from A-Z, but it seems that they are responsible for many popular grudge-style fonts out on the free font market. (For lack of a better term…free stuff isn’t really a market.) That being said, they also are popular for illustrations, so that must be the explanation for the overly-ornamental and…err…non-solid (?) typefaces. In case you do not understand what I am talking about when I mention their collection of typefaces, click here. The link will take you to the DaFont page with all of their glorious burdens of fonts that disgrace the design world.

 

Style

Bleeding Cowboys is a grudge font. By definition, grudge is described as “something of inferior quality, trash, or a style/fashion derived from a rock music movement: fashion characterized by unkempt clothes and music by aggressive, sadistic songs.” (dictionary.com) That being said, a grudge FONT is similar. It reflects the messy, edgy, and unkept lifestyle that music from bands of the era, like Nirvana for example, advocated in the era. My question as a designer is why is there a font style like this? Fonts are supposed to be clean and easy to read, not “unkempt and aggressive.” 

The font itself consists of an old american western style font base that essentially gets torn apart, roughed up, and embellished with long swirling ornaments off some of the letters. A western font is a blocky serifed letterform that occasionally has ornamentation in the middle and almost always has thick, rectangular, slab serifs. Bleeding Cowboys seems to embody the tough but glamourous side of said cowboys by having such a rough texture, but also very delicate and organic ornaments. To me, it is slightly confusing.

 

UseImage

Bleeding Cowboys seems to have been used A LOT in country music albums. Especially when the font was new, designers of album covers probably thought it was perfect, however it has been used so much now that it has become more or an annoyance and cliché than anything. As we all know, clichés in design are not good. Design is all about being creative, and to use a cliché shows that the designer is lazy or uncreative; and an uncreative designer should probably not be a designer. Yes, there are eras of style that can and should be followed, but the difference is that styles have variation within them while clichés are always the same. Catch my drift?

With all of that being said, the font itself should be used in a very narrow style. Like I said before, it is a mean, western-grunge font with a delicate side; two conflicting personalities. If you can find a perfect situation where that kind of style fits, by all means you have an excuse! However it should not be used every time someone feels one of the following: edgy, pretty, western, modern, evil, indifferent, masculine, feminine, etc. There are too many conflicting feels in this font for it just to be used for a single emotion.

 

Source

Segments Design. “Bleeding Cowboys.” DaFont.com. 28 November 2009. Accessed online 25 June 2014.

Gotham

d28f5988f706f39d73f6a900ea1699c6Let me clarify things before anything is mentioned: no, we are not talking about anything Batman related. Today, I will talk a little bit about one of my personal favorite fonts, Gotham. Sans-serif, modern, and geometric, this font is fairly new and taking the design world by storm.

 

History

Gotham was originally commissioned by a magazine titled GQ, where the editors wanted a new font with a geometric, masculine, and fresh style. It was designed by a type designer from the U.S. named Tobias Frere-Jones in 2000. Futura was the main inspiration for Gotham, with a general design approach stemming from the 1920s era where many bare geometric typefaces were created. Designer, Frere-Jones, explained this era as, “not the kind of letter a type designer would make, but the kind of letter an engineer would make.” A lot of critics associate the Gotham font with New York City, in a sense that it is “blocky and no-nonsense” like the architecture of the city. Another reason why it is associated with New York City is because it is one of the first American-made geometric and modern typefaces.

In past media, Gotham has been used in many ways. The most famous being in Barrack Obama’s 2008 election campaign. (Fun fact: Gotham is Obama’s favorite font.) It also has been used in other branding efforts such as in the 2014 FIFA World Cup logo, the most recent Cartoon Network logo, the most recent Twitter logo, and right here in our back yard at Miami University. There are many other famous examples on the list, but I will spare you the reading, friend.

 

Style

Like I mentioned, Gotham is yet another sans-serif geometric typeface. It has many different weights, and is very versatile. Most of the stokes are uniform and low contrast between thick and thin, however if one looks closely, they can see a very slight variation. We will see very round near-circular curves as well, with an x-height almost exactly in the middle of the ascenders and decenders. Gotham was intended to look a little more humanistic than the other geometric fonts such as Futura and Avenir, and it completes this task well, but in an extremely subtle way in how little things are changed on each of the characters.

 

Use

Gotham is very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. Most often, one will see it in logos, but it also makes a very good complement to modern serif typefaces and a useable body type. Overall, Gotham is a lot like Avenir when it comes to versatility and use, however it is a tad bit more humanistic, so it makes it a little more neutral. I would still venture to say it is not as neutral as Helvetica, and that it is still considered modern and fresh feeling.

 

Source

Hustwit, Gary. “A Font We Can Believe In.” Helveticafilm.com. 19 February 2008. Accessed online 23 June 2014.

Handwriting – Dakota

dakota-looks-like-handwritingThe plague is upon us and it comes in the form of type! Suddenly the handwriting of this mysterious Dakota character is appearing EVERYWHERE these days.  As a concerned designer who loves type, I am determined to get to the bottom of this bullshit.

 

History

There is not much history to this font, to be honest. The lack of purpose must be why it sucks so bad, just like Jokerman. However, I did find that it comes with Apple products. Handwriting Dakota was created by a company called Vletter.com in 1995 and Apple took it over in 2001. Other than that, I searched far and wide on the internet to see why this font was created, and simply could find nothing. That being said, it seems like apple just found this thing on the side of the internet street and decided to take it home and make it the most annoying handwriting font there ever was. Unbelievable.

 

Style

Essentially, Handwriting Dakota is a messy collection of letters that looks like it was written with a fountain pen or quill by someone who obviously did not know how to use it. There is a high contrast between thick and thin strokes in all the wrong places here, which I would presume was done purposely to make the font seem a little more humanized. However, I believe that whoever designed this forgot one thing, and that is the simple matter that no one writes with a fountain pen or a quill anymore, and even when people did use those utensils they had immaculate penmanship. Another stylistic quality is the lack of uniformity that the letters possess, which makes the x-height appear to be uneven and in some individual cases (such as with ‘s’ and other glyphs) it actually is uneven.

 

Use

This font is used by anyone and everyone trying to seem friendly, organic, or artsy. I would assume the popularity of the font is due to it’s availability on most Apple products, but nevertheless I hit my head against a wall wondering why people think this font is a thing of beauty. In the typography world, where things are usually very uniform, it truly is the eighth wonder of the world as to how Handwriting Dakota actually got popular. For goodness sakes, Comic Sans even has uniformity. It is pretty bad when the most hated font in the design world is actually more structured than you, Dakota. Think long and hard about that.

 

Source

“Handwriting Dakota.” Typeophile. 2011. Accessed online 20 June 2014.