Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What is this font good for?

People who notice for the first time that they have at their disposal a great many fonts they’ve never used remind me of a three-year-old who can just reach the dessert tray at a buffet and decides to lick them all to see which one she likes.

Ooh! Isn’t this one pretty? I wonder what I can use it for.

It seems to me that the right question to ask is this: How can I solve my design problem? In answering that question, I’m sure I’ll find an appropriate font, but font selection is the output of the design analysis, not the input.

Fonts are like buttons in your grandmother’s button box. The reason she kept a box full of buttons was that it increased her chances of finding the button she needed when she needed a button. She didn’t stare at the box wondering what she could use them for. Ooh! Isn’t this one pretty? I wonder what I can use it for. No. If a garment turned up in the laundry missing a button, she could then go to the button box and look for a suitable replacement. She began with the design problem and went to the button box to solve it, not the other way around.


Karen said...

Have you seen this? http://julianhansen.com/index.php?/alternative-type-finder/

Dick Margulis said...

Too funny! Thanks for the link, Karen.

Unknown said...

Despite what others think of it, decorating clothing with random buttons from grandma's button box comes into style periodically.

And there are always a lot of ads (in some local publications and on flyers) that look as if their creators chose the fonts (there are always many) with the same decorative idea.