The Art of Typography

If you have noticed, there isn’t much television programming on Graphic Design. Infact, there is none at all. So last night, I was browsing through the channel line up on TV and saw a program on PBS called “Helvetica“. I was really excited, but thought how are earth can someone talk for an hour about a font? Believe me, you will be surprised.

Helvetica is a Sans Serif Typeface (Font) developed in 1957 by by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann. In the example above, you will notice the difference between Sans Serif and Serif Typefaces. Serif Typefaces has little feet at the ends of the strokes.

The Power of Helvetica

“Helvetica is among the most widely used sans-serif typefaces. Helvetica is also a popular choice for commercial wordmarks, including those for 3M, American Airlines, American Apparel, AT&T, BMW, Jeep, JCPenney, Lufthansa, Microsoft, Orange, and Verizon Wireless. Apple Inc. has used Helvetica widely in Mac OS X, the iPhone OS, and the iPod. Helvetica is widely used by the U.S. government; for example, federal income tax forms are set in Helvetica. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) uses Helvetica for many of its subway signs.” Source:

Below is a clip from the independent film, stressing the importance of Typography in ads and branding. I couldn’t agree with him more! Now if only everyone can share in his passion for type!

The Importance of Typography

Come to think of it, talking about a font for an hour is nothing. In University, my professor talked about it an entire year. The class was simply called Typography I (there was Typography II and then Typography III – another 2 years of that!). We learned the history of typography; from Johannes Gutenberg (who created the first Printing Press) to making paper to operating a printing press.

Digging Up Some Old Treasures

I was rummaging through the basement again, and came across another project I did in University. This design was created using an actual printing press. Each member of the class was given a letter. Mine happened to be the letter “E”. We each designed the base of our design on a computer and then applied the assigned character through a printing press (below shown in colour). We then had duplicate this 30 times for each member of the class, to be added in a bound book we all created individually.


Duplicating a couple of letters 30 times through a printing press was not a walk in the park. You had to line it up perfectly, roll on the ink hoping it won’t smudge, (and if you did, you would have to redo it) and then pass a heavy roller to transfer that onto paper. Now imagine doing that in the year 1436 for a newspaper. Each letter had to be placed on the printing press, lined up and transferred.

Now it’s hard to imagine that something as a little as a font can be so important in the world of design. But as history shows, it’s fundamental in the creation of your brand! If you are interested in Typography, you can google it and spend days if not weeks/months reading up on it.