On Thursday after the MA induction, we had a short session with Gerry. He passed around a few specimens from last year’s class and asked us to rate them on the basis of “excellence”. And then together with the class, he listed criteria that could define excellence.
Is the design functional?
Does it meet its brief?
What is the scope of the typeface?
How many languages and scripts does it support?
Can the design be considered original?
Is it fun?
Has it been executed well?
A typeface should, first and foremost, do what it must, and then throw in an extra punch. Find the elusive balance between being functional, original and fun. To illustrate his point, Gerry picked up one of the better designs and pointed out that once the basics had been covered, the designer had some fun in the extra weights.
Of course the idea of fun in a typeface is a confusing one. Not every application requires fun. Perhaps a better word to use would be striking or memorable. Rather than only do its job, a typeface can also inspire a graphic designer to use it more daringly or find applications for it beyond what had been the intention of its design.