Fun in the Extra Weights

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.

Comments 4

  1. Ben Mitchell October 10, 2011

    I think there were three or four ‘excellent’ designs in the pile?

    I don’t know what the ‘trust’ thing’s about, but I’m Fully agreeing about ‘fun’ being a bit troublesome. It’s not always going to be part of the brief. Newspaper or dictionary fonts don’t want to be exciting, do they?

    • Pooja October 10, 2011

      There were, but he was showing us one design in particular when he said fun in the extra weights.

      As for the trust thing, I edited it out so you wouldn’t know what it is about 🙂 I was under the impression that Gerry’s metaphor of “go out with” came along with the metaphor of “trusting” the typeface (or person) with an important responsibility, and how the two qualities don’t always exist in one.

      I used the words memorable or striking instead of fun (maybe they are not correct, as well). Even in a dictionary or newspaper typeface, don’t you think it is possible to have styles and/or weights that push the limits a bit more? Fun not because individual letters are “funky” or the personality of the typeface is “funky”, but because, lets say, the way the family has been planned is exciting. Maybe, we need to take the word “fun” less literally?

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