If you are ever having a discussion (or argument) with someone who doesn’t believe that type matters, then demonstrate your point by showing them this:
These are two identical photos of Audrey Hepburn, only one is captioned in Bodoni and one is captioned in Comic Sans. The distinctive style of each typeface alters the perception of the image—classic or comical?
This is just one of the examples that graphic designer and I Love Typography (ILT) founder John Boardley shared at Type Matters last week in Japan.
I’ve been reading ILT for a few years now, so when I heard John was going to be speaking in Tokyo, I cleared my calendar, added my name to the waiting list, and crossed my fingers that I’d get bumped up. It was wonderful to sit in a room with other type lovers and hear John talk about its history and usage. Here are some of the tips he shared about the four elements of good typography: Contrast, Size, Hierarchy, and White Space.
- Check for contrast by printing out your design in grayscale.
- Text is the most important element on any page and it should always be a legible size.
- Use typography to establish a visual hierarchy.
- Many designers fear white space, but typography is about balancing the black and white.
To learn more, check out John’s Guide to Web Typography. In fact, if you’re not already reading I Love Typography, go, browse, learn. There is a ton of content on all aspects of typography, and it’s a fantastic resource whether you’re a professional designer or a type enthusiast.
And for some typographical inspiration, here are some shots I took during the historical part of John’s presentation. You can click on each image for a closer look.
I spent two weeks traveling in China this spring, and my route from Beijing to Xi’an to Shanghai was a fusion of ancient history and modernity. Here are some snapshots from the trip—bits of color, architecture, and typography that caught my eye and continue to provide inspiration. You can click on the thumbnails for a closer look.
(left to right, top to bottom) 1. Painted pandas – Beijing Zoo; 2. Beihai Park – Beijing; 3. A + Bird’s Nest – Olympic Park, Beijing; 4. Script + paper screens – Forbidden City, Beijing; 5. Geometric architecture – Shanghai; 6. Fountain Deli – Shanghai.
(left to right, top to bottom) 7. Heart type – Beijing; 8. Wedding window display – Xi’an; 9. Red and gold – Confucius Temple, Beijing; 10. Paper cut in the subway – Beijing; 11. Tiled – Yonghegong Lama Temple, Beijing; 12. Uighur embroidered scarf – Shanghai Museum.
(left to right, top to bottom) 13. Jade pieces used for a funerary face covering – Shanghai Museum; 14. Brown Sugar – Shanghai; 15. The Hall of Clocks and Watches – Forbidden City, Beijing; 16. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – Shanghai; 17. Water Cube – Olympic Park, Beijing; 18. Stone armor for Terracotta Army – Xi’an.
Our latest design inspiration comes from Elaine Chernov. Elaine has a BFA in Visual Communication from Long Beach State and is currently working as an Art Director at a small ad agency in Chicago, as well as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.
Born in the Soviet Union, raised in Los Angeles, and currently loving Chicago, Elaine also has a passion for travel. Her most recent trip was to Thailand, where she found inspiration in the written language.
When you look at the characters of a completely foreign language, especially one as ornate as Thai, all you notice is form, line weight, and relationships. It’s the kind of total blindness that made me just stare at all the signs, applying the same type-sensitive eye I would to a romance alphabet but without any bias towards connotation. It’s an exercise in pure typography.
Elaine shares her favorites below, but definitely check out the full set on Flickr for more Thai-pography goodness.
Beware Sippery Surface
I had the opportunity to travel more around Japan during the summer holiday and found a lot of inspiration. First up: typography. From hand drawn to bold art to fancy, these types caught my eye.
(left to right, top to bottom) 1. Hand drawn type and chairs – Shibuya, 2. Swirls + granite – Odaiba, 3. Ornate sepia – Aizu Wakamatsu, 4. LOVE – Shinjuku, 5. Gothic & Lolita – Harajuku, 6. Studded I’s Bicycle – Kyoto.
Stay tuned for more Japan inspiration: structural elements.
I was in Toronto, Canada last week for a social marketing conference at the University of Toronto. We had lovely weather and I enjoyed snapping photos of fun signage and cityscapes. Here are a few of my favorites:
1). I love the big red typography for the Art Gallery of Ontario; 2). In-store display at Eaton Center featuring the names of notable Canadians; 3). The Yonge Shopping District near Eaton Center; 4). A cool name and typography for a steak restaurant; 5). Oddly enough (or maybe not), a fair number of pubs featured forest animals on their signs. All followed by “Firkin.” This was my favorite; 6). A street sign in Chinatown near the University.
I’m always on the lookout for typography, and my recent trip to Seattle was no exception. Below are some that caught my eye and provided a bit of design inspiration. I would love to be able to use the elements from #2 in a design, where bright red, sharp angles contrast with curvy white arches, or #7, where swirls complement the free formation of the letters.
(left to right, top to bottom) 1. Space Needle @ Seattle Center, 2. Space Center Arena, 3. Parking on the waterfront, 4. Belltown, 5. Space Needle observation deck, 6. Photosynthesis step of a community garden, 7. Wall decoration in Pensione Nichols, 8. Mosaic of a poem by Chief Seattle, 9. Ampersand at the Olympic Sculpture Park.
Another recent source of inspiration has been the making of Charmingwall, a process that illustrator Julia Rothman of the design company Also shares, from brainstorming to animating drawings to the final product. The detail in their work is simply amazing. Feel free to share what’s been inspiring you lately in the comments.