Saturday, 4 December 2010

Day 339, on which John would rather slice off his eyes with a meat tenderiser [4.12.10]

Dag tre hundrede niogtredive. Yesterday I watched The Graham Norton Show. OK, it's not something I watch very often, and for good reason + it's presented by Graham Norton. I like him and all, he's good on Eurovision, but usually his chat show is pretty dull and it just makes me wish Jonathan Ross was back with his show, which I loved. Fuck you Sachsgate. Anywho, Justin Boober - oops, sorry, I mean Bieber - was on with Graham Norton and Jack Black and some Miranda woman and some gay film director. A wide range of a motley crew, for sure. And Justin Bieber was possibly the most annoying, cocky little idiot I think I've ever seen on TV. Oh no wait, I saw some teenage girl popstar on the telly a while ago, she was pretty cocky... oh haha, that was just Justin Bieber. My mistake.

I said this on my Twitter and I'll say it here too: I'd rather slice off my eyes with a meat tenderiser than go to a Justin Bieber concert. And I'll stand by it.

Right-o, moving swiftly on we continue the topic from yesterday of reviewing these two new fonts that I downloaded. Yesterday we had a look at ITC Avant-Garde Gothic, Herb Lubalin's geometric sans-serif version of his popular Lubalin Graph font, and today we have something very different. We're moving from the exteremely abstract, characteristic Avant-Garde Gothic to an emotionless, unfeeling, cold-hearted font called Univers.

Designed before Helvetica, Univers was the first widely-used sans-serif and is often preached as being the original grotesque sans serif. I've read several design books that have included Univers in their list of important designs of the 20th century and not Helvetica, simply because Univers came first. But I think this is wrong, very wrong. Sure, Univers came first, but Helvetica was the first to master the sans-serif format. Univers is clunky, wrongly shaped and very obviously typewriter font-derived compared to Helvetica. Helvetica took these dull shapes and uniformity and added some flair and smoothness, whilst maintaining a strong grotesque look.

It's not that I don't like Univers. I can see that many people would like to use it as an 'emotionless' font, and it was one of the first fonts to include about a hundred different weights for a wide variety of uses (all given a number, a whole new system mapped out by the font designer), and it surely was revolutionary for its time, but I really would prefer Helvetica. Univers was designed right at the start of the sans-serif movement, when sans-serifs weren't particularly refined, and I think it needed several years for sans-serifs to be mastered and for a near-perfect sans-serif font to be made. That font, ladies and gentlemen, is Helvetica. Univers defies itself and does indeed have a personality - one of coldness, almost machine-like.

In other words, Helvetica for the win!



Leigh Systems said...

Helvetica Neue?

John said...

Helvetica is the original font, Helvetica Neue is the 1970s slight alteration. To adapt Helvetica to the digital age. I mainly use Neue because I have more weights of it.

Leigh Systems said...

Ah. All is explained.