Helvetica: A Documentary and Sarah’s Take on Fonts

While looking through the movies on Netflix last night, one title caught my eye – Helvetica. The font name jumped out at me, and I had to wonder… a movie about a font? It isn’t so much a movie, as it is a documentary on typography and thoughts about it throughout the world.

Helvetica is an interesting documentary on typography. Massimo Vignelli comments on the universality of Helvetica. Throughout the documentary, you see various other applications of Helvetica and will realize that it is quite prominent in advertising. It’s very easy to read, clear… quite ubiquitous.

Matthew Carter talks about what it takes to make a type and gets into designing a type. He is responsible for Verdana, a font that he worked on for Microsoft.

I am such a font geek. While watching this documentary, I saw the name Hermann Zapf, I perked up. Zapf Chancery and Zapf Dingbats both immediately crossed my mind.

If you are into typography or just like toying around with fonts, I’d definitely recommend seeing Helvetica.

I am very well aware of the impact that a font can make and the language one can speak. A font has its own character, its own style. My husband and I went to a new restaurant this weekend, and my only complaint is that they are using the wrong font for their logo. The font says one thing, but the atmosphere is something totally different. The logo uses a font similar to Papyrus or Viner Hand, but the environment is definitely more similar to something along the lines of Zapf Chancery.

Even when I worked on the layout for this site, I had to take fonts into consideration. For the blog posts themselves, all I cared about is that they’re readable. However, in redesigning the site, I wanted a font for my website title and sidebar headings to be a bit more feminine. When I think feminine, I think scripty. At the same time, I wanted to maintain readability, which can get difficult with script fonts. After looking at various fonts, I settled with Freehand591, which I think brings in the geekette part of me.

Look around you at the advertisements, books, and products – you never know where you’ll see Helvetica, or where a font stands out or seems inappropriately used. Take a closer look, and you may be surprised!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *