Friday, 3 December 2010

Day 338, on which John does very little [3.12.10]

Dag tre hundrede otteogtredive. Well howdy hey campers, and welcome to another day in the story of John's stuck-inside-because-of-the-snow adventure, which is becoming less exciting every minute it continues! Big woop! On a less cynical note, I was going to do something today, but I ended up doing very little (hey, the title was right!) because, I guess, I was so productive yesterday.

Anywho, I downloaded two fonts yesterday and used one in my video and I think they're significant enough to deserve a quick review from me. Many thanks to the German site 'Font Yükle' or some such name, which has allowed me to download these for free, though I probably shouldn't be allowed to or something. If it is illegal, please note I wanted them just because of my type fanhood. If it's there, for free, I'm gonna download it. There's not much that Linotype can do about that. I demand, and if there's supply, it'll fulfill the demand. Hence, I get the fonts I want for free, some website does some shady business and Linotype get unhappy. I benefit from this, so you don't hear me whining.

The first font family I downloaded was called ITC Avant-Garde Gothic from the genius of a type designer that is (was?) Herb Lubalin. Yup, you've heard his name before. His slab serif font, ITC Lubalin Graph, is used around this blog (see the header, and various graphics in the sidebar and all around the place). I really love it. I loved it more back at the start of the year when I designed this blog, and it has kinda dipped in popularity because I jumped on the Helvetica bandwagon, but I'm still a fan. A big fan. This font here was what I thought was just called ITC Lubalin, because it's basically ITC Lubalin Graph without the serifs. But no, it's actually called ITC Avant-Garde Gothic (dispensing the ITC prefix from hereon), which tells me a lot more about what it's meant to be. No longer is Lubalin Graph the tight, utilitarian slab serif I originally interpreted it as; it's a modern, avant-garde, unusual, abstract slab-serif. It's funny how I interpret fonts in a particular way but actually they're intended to be something different.

I quite like Avant-Garde Gothic. It's one of those fonts that you have to use very carefully, and with immense skill, to make it look good. It's not a perfect font, it's based on the classical system of sizes (which means the O is a square and letters like the L, R, E and P are exactly half the width of the O) which puts it off a bit and makes it look quite strange, unusual. However, if you have the right words that look good in the font, such as 'Like never before' above, it can look really modern and could even rival Futura in terms of geometric sans-serifs. The light weight of it is very odd, and I wouldn't really suggest it unless you're to use it in full caps, because it's very light and the lowercase A could well be mistaken for an O. One interesting thing to note, which annoyingly I didn't include here, is that in the light weight of Avant-Garde Gothic, the pinch of the R (between the lobe and leg) doesn't touch the left stem. Very strange, looks very avant-garde and very abstract. At first I'd think it would totally screw up the colour of the font (ie. because it's not connected, it seems lighter than the other letters, therefore throwing off the 'colour' of the font and creating patches when used in paragraph text), but as far as I can tell, it hasn't. Of course, I don't expect any  patchiness and bad colour from Mr. Lubalin. Good job, sir.

Tomorrow I'll be really cynical, 'cause I'll be reviewing Univers, the number one competitior to Helvetica in corporate situations. It's gonna get messy.

~John

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