Saturday, October 27, 2007

Helvetica Is Your Friend.

I love when I can write about events in which my blogging topics collide. This post is about the collision of filmmaking and graphic design. Last week, I went with a bunch of co-workers to an AIGA event to see a movie about a font, yes a font. And it wasn’t just about any font, it was about the font: Helvetica. Which was perfect for me since I tend to use Helvetica like Wes Anderson uses Futura.

This documentary outlined the inception, usage, and future of the most loved and hated font of the past 50 years and this ultra-nerdy-designer-flick rocked the house down. The question they pose is this—should a font communicate a feeling in and of itself or should a font be neutral, forcing the viewer into the content in order to get the message? It was a bit surreal to see and hear some of the most important graphic designers of our day either tear that font apart as a soulless piece of air or uphold it as a literal representative of perfection.

What made me love this doc was the exploration of a concept that I totally believe in—finding art in the mundane, daily things that surround us. Through all the differing views, one interviewee cut through the clutter. Michael C. Place of Build, London really brought things into perspective. He more or less put my own thoughts into words. Basically, he said, hey it’s a great looking font, it fits nearly any scenario, but most importantly there’s an inherent challenge to make something beautiful out of something that’s seemingly ordinary (see image below). This is the very reason that I find myself using Helvetica in my own designs from time to time, either that or I’m just a no-talent wannabe who only knows like four fonts anyways.

So if you have a chance, check out Helvetica. It’s a Veer production and it has great music, fun editing, and horrible interview lighting that can be pretty entertaining at times. As ridiculously boring as a flick about a font sounds, if you’re into docs, design, or both it’ll definitely be a rewarding eighty minutes.
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