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This catechism originally appeared on Quora.
Answer by Craig Weiland, art director:
This is a alluring question.
I’m a chantry guy. I adulation type, and I adulation belief and application typefaces. “How do I accept the appropriate font?” is such a simple question, yet there are so abounding means to acknowledgment it.
For one thing, I’ve been advantageous absorption to fonts my accomplished life. Ever back my parents got me The Print Shop on my Commodore 64 back I was 13 years old, I’ve been acquainted of how typefaces accept personality and that personality is acceptable for some uses and berserk abnormal for others.
For instance, does this logo’s book acquaint the affectionate of things you’d go to a beating parlor for? I’d apprehend to airing out of there aching and bloody. Or would you assurance your banking abundance to a CPA with this logo? It’s not alike spelled correctly. Ashley charge not be a “details person.” Would you bead your accouchement off here? “Leave your acquittal in a amber cardboard bag a the bank in the park. Cash only, nonsequential bills. We’ll acquaint you area to aggregate your child.” Actuality are a few added examples of these for added illustration.
It helps to be acquainted of a lot of altered kinds of fonts and to be able to analyze them by name. It does you little acceptable for you to say, “You know, I absolutely like the chantry they use on Law & Order. I appetite to use that for my project.” (Of course, commodity like that can apparently be begin bound application a well-phrased Google search. And if you accept a sample of the chantry you’re attractive for, you can upload it to WhatTheFont! and usually get a actual answer.)
Get a “periodic table of typefaces” affiche and put it on your appointment bank (or set it as your desktop background). Study it. Stare at it back you’re meditating. Lose yourself in it back you’re zoning out. It’s awesome. Absorb the shapes and let yourself brace them with the names. It’s not as abundant a ability as the huge affiche I had on my appointment bank back I was aboriginal starting out—sadly, I can’t assume to acquisition it anywhere on the interwebs, or I’d appearance it to you—but it’s an accomplished and attainable ability to advice accustom yourself with the greats. (And be abiding to analysis out some of the links provided at the basal of the poster, like this one.)
A artist additionally has to be acquainted of the basics of blazon usage. Serifed blazon is generally acclimated for continued copy, like books and magazines. This is because the serifs accomplish the characters added apparent and the argument attainable to apprehend in aggregate at babyish sizes. Serif anatomy archetype usually pairs able-bodied with sans-serif affectation type. There are mountains of exceptions, but you accept to accept the rules afore you can finer breach them.
I analysis a lot of fonts back I architecture a logo. I’ll sometimes go through 20 to 30 altered faces attractive at how the characters chronicle to one another, the all-embracing affection presented by the forms, readability at ample and babyish sizes, how I ability use color, how the letterforms actualize abrogating spaces and how I ability use them, and so forth. I charge to accept a solid compassionate of the attitude I appetite to project. For instance, in the beating logo example, the attitude announced is strength, confidence, power, and pride. A beating parlor should be welcoming, warm, relaxing, and soothing. The book alleged charge advertisement these attributes, or at atomic not be in battle with them.
Fonts, to me, can additionally be actual personal. For a continued time, I was a huge Apple fan. (I’m beneath of one now, but that’s addition story.) I acclimated to aggregate Apple advertisements and brochures. All through the ’80s and best of the ’90s, Apple acclimated a customized applique of Garamond for all their business materials, alleged Apple Garamond. It looks like this.
I admired that font. For a time, I capital to use it on everything, like my academy papers. It’s beautiful, professional, and so affable (compared to, say, Times New Roman).
Gag. What a boring, lifeless, achromatic appearance set. It says, “I don’t absolutely affliction what book it is.”
I started to apprehend that although I admired Apple Garamond, it was not alive in my favor. The characters are actual narrow. Back you’re autograph academy papers, generally assigned application folio calculation as a metric, a attenuated appearance set makes added assignment for me. A chantry with a added stance, say, Bookman …
Now that’s a chantry for appellation papers. And anyway, Apple Garamond is Apple. It screams Apple. Apple acclimated it for so long, so effectively, that they basically endemic it. (They did, literally, own that face.) As a professional, back I capital to blueprint a chantry for a architecture activity and activated Apple Garamond, I had to be able to acknowledgment the question, “Does the use of this chantry say, ‘We ambition we were Apple?’ ” Alone if the acknowledgment was no and the chantry was appropriate on all the blow of the belief could I use it. I about never did.
A few years later, I apparent Stone Print.
Look at that! I thought. It’s a beautiful, attenuated serif face, with abundant able personality, and it’s not Apple Garamond! I fell in adulation with it and at the aforementioned time instantly knew I would never use it for annihilation abroad but my own claimed stuff. My resume. My correspondence. Over the demands and threats of my alum school, I typeset my apriorism in Stone Print and angry it in that way. That’s my font, baby. None of my able projects get to use it. I’m careful about a scattering of added fonts in the aforementioned way.
Sometimes a font’s accustomed use absolutely gets in the way of my absent to use it and makes it frustrating. A acceptable archetype is Gotham.
Gotham is an amazing a (2000) face. So modern, so strong, so attainable and welcoming, yet still assured and secure. Admirable like Helvetica but absolutely not Helvetica. I would adulation to use Gotham a lot more, but Barack Obama’s attack acclimated Gotham so abundantly in 2008 and 2012 that the chantry became accordingly affiliated to him, like Apple Garamond blazes Apple alike back it’s not talking about computers. Gotham is the Obama Font, actuality in the U.S. at least. Unless my ambition demographic is accepted to favor the guy, I accept to abstain this chantry if I appetite to abstain the association.
As a designer, you should be consistently advantageous absorption to architecture in your ambiance and media. If you apprehension a air-conditioned book in something, like a cine affiche or a billboard, see if you can clue it bottomward after application Google searches or WhatTheFont, so you can add it to your armory for approaching use. And be acquainted of trends. In the 1990s, a chantry alleged Officina Sans was absolutely popular. It was acclimated everywhere that addition capital to activity “contemporary appointment chic.” Today, I can’t use it at all. It’s beat out. It alone projects: “We anticipate it’s still the ’90s.” You can’t aces up things like that if you aren’t advantageous absorption to the architecture apple about you.
So You Charge a Book is a absurd and blithe album on how to accept fonts. It’s additionally a abundant jumping-off point for alpha clear artists who don’t apperceive abounding fonts by name and appetite to augment their chantry horizons.
“The Eight Worst Fonts in the World” is a ablaze commodity about fonts to avoid. It’s long, but anyone austere about acquirements chantry acceptance (and misusage) should accord it a read.
If you are attractive for new, beginning typefaces and appetite to blink at the acid bend already in a while, you should assurance up for MyFonts email newsletters. (No, I don’t assignment for them in any way.) I get a lot of aggregate email every day (most of it is aloof spam), but back a MyFonts affair shows up, I stop and apprehend it. They are excellent. And I’ve apparent some amazingly abundant typefaces through their Rising Stars one.
Finally, I use FontExplorer X Pro to administer my chantry libraries. As you can apparently guess, I accept absolutely a few fonts on tap.
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