6 Great Fonts for Graphic Design (plus 2 that just shouldn’t exist!)
[1992 – Robert Slimbach & Carol Twombly]
Like most sans serif fonts, Myriad robust, very open, and easily readable; but two of my favorite things about Myriad probably don’t matter to anyone but me. First off, it has its own very nicely designed ligatures (which are certain letter pairs that actually change their shape for better flow and readability… see example to the right.) Myriad is just a nicely kerned font all on its own, and having some well thought of ligatures just make it nicer to work with. Secondly, I have great respect for folks who design their italics in ways that aren’t just “slanty versions” of the standard “roman” upright version. Myriad uses this concept in several of its characters, like the “a” and “e” shown to the right also.
[1957 – Max Miedinger]
Oh Helvetica, you timeless old B*$+@^&! You are easily the most used font EVER!!! Most people assume Arial is the same thing (which it’s not; Arial was loosely based on the letter shapes of a type called Monotype Grotesque, but I digress…) Helvetica really came into its place within the Pantheon of Fonts during the age of letraset type, and easily crossed the bridge to the digital age. It’s now the “go to” font for people who don’t want to think about what font to use.
[1954 – Adrian Frutiger]
Adrian Frutiger, you say? The creator of the typeface actually CALLED Frutiger? Yes, true, although of all Frutiger’s fonts, this is my favorite. After all, with more than 40 variations (actually up to 63 if you consider the slightly retooled Linotype Univers series) it has all of the weights, widths, oblique sets, and positions you could ever need for clean, but bold design. It also has a few characters with some visual appeal that makes it easily distinguished from other sans serif fonts; such as the capital “G” without it’s tail, the capital “Q” whose tail slides along the baseline” or the small “t” with a slight angle along to top.
[1530 – Claude Garamond]
Unlike French Fries and French Toast, Claude Garamond was actually FROM France! There are a crazy number of versions of Garamond around, but the most widely used is the version from Adobe (Adobe Garamond or sometimes AGaramond). Claude also was the creator of Sabon, which is another really classy serif font, but just because of the shear popularity of his namesake, it had to go on the list!
[1933 – Frank Hinman Pierpont]
Originally released as Lithos Antique around 1910, Rockwell was updated and released in the early 1930’s in the robust form we know today. Unfortunately, some early graphic arts publications incorrectly identified it as Stymie Bold which has similar traits but is kerned much tighter. Rockwell was one of the early “slab serif” fonts referring to its blocky serifs that you can rest a dinner plate on. It has a distinct geometric quality that really makes it stand out, and has been used for years by the New York Times Sunday magazine and for a while by the Guinness Book of World Records.
[2002 – Lee Fasciani]
Duty has all the roundness and richness of other classic fonts like Gill Sans or Futura, but with several more weight options and a few interesting flairs here and there. I’m also a big fan of Lee Fasciani, a young British designer who has done the unthinkable, and proven that Typography is not dead, but in fact can still be a viable art form.
And 2 that shouldn’t have been made…
This is a cheesy knock-off of Linotext, which already shouldn’t be used for ANYTHING. Yet this font seems to appear in random places, and what’s worse is that you’ll occasionally see it in ALL CAPS. Seriously, folks… the 1400s called and they want their font back. Sure, all you Medical School and Law School Graduates, we get it; you’re prestigious. But don’t think for a minute that just because little Jimmy or Suzy graduated from the Third Grade or successfully played soccer for a season, that I actually believe that a team of Monks were sought out to hand scribe their certificates just because you thought it would be cute to use some old-timey font.
Seriously?! Animal letters? I understand the need for Dingbats and Wingdings; but fonts as clipart are just silly. While Giddyup Thangs and Lil Pics are both particularly annoying, Critters takes it to a whole new level because it tries to be clipart, alphabet, and nature lesson all in one! “Look kids… the ‘R’ is a Racoon, and it LOOKS like an ‘R’ and ‘C’ is a … wait… what?” Yes… you guessed it “C” is for Catfish. Adorable… NOT!
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