Typography Today and its Roles

Planning, Thesis

I spent this week investigating and creating a typographic pallette for the exhibition, web, and print. I have often heard the analogy that good typography should be like a crystal goblet — merely holding the contents by giving them shape and form without distortions, and how Helvetica was the ultimate incarnation of this concept.

Is that all typography needs to do? How quaint.

Typography along with its function and usage is undergoing a dramatic metamorphosis due to (of course) the Internet and more recently smaller screen sizes for mobile devices.

Today, users do not read — they scan. The average web page only has about 3 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they move on to search for something of greater interest or more closely matching their search requirements.

It is therefore of utmost importance for a focus on visual clarity, interest and conveying the most important information in a concise manner. So it’s time for typography (and designers) to put their backs into it, because there’s some heavy lifting that needs to be done, and quickly.

It is no longer enough for typography to just sit there. It is also no good for typography to just be pretty or unique. It is now of utmost importance that the most applicable typefaces are chosen for the right purpose.

The Internet has, in effect, upped the ante. It is now crucial for design planning to be as close to perfect as possible. Errors, miscalculations, and bad taste lose eyeballs very quickly. It does no good to either bore users with trite typographics conventions or hit them across the face with the baseball bat of Gotham (over and over and over and over…).

OK, so this is me getting down off my soapbox now.

Typography and The Monomyth Experience

For “The Monomyth Experience” (as I have now dubbed my Thesis project), I need my typography to convey some ideas, and I think I’ve found what will suit the project’s needs.

I’m not a conventional person by any means, and since this project is as much a personal expression as anything else, I want my typography to show this as well.  The typography will need to serve as wayfinding, signage, and provide instruction and information. It will also need to view well on small and large screens as well as when projected at a large scale. That’s a pretty tall order.

Ideally, I would want the typography to help communicate the following:

  • Modern — clean & clear.
  • Technology — looking towards the future.
  • Humanity — keeping us held tight to our relationships & personal connections.

To this end, I have been trying various combinations of typefaces. Ultimately, I realized that I would need one that was robust with a lot of weights, which meant that I would have to shell out some cash. So I did – and I’m pretty happy I did.

Carnas Y Consolas

I decided on going with a typeface called Carnas and pairing it with Consolas. Carnas is a monoline sans that was designed by the German typographer Dieter Hofrichter. It is casual, but professional with a tall x-height and slender ascenders. The square shapes have a very nice thick/thin contrast without becoming boring or zipping off to the extremes of Bodoni (which I do happen to like).


So this is ends first round of typography edits. I’m sure that I will come back to this later and make revisions as I get feedback. But for now, it’s a good start.