It is hard not to simply gush about Paul Shaw’s Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story. For a life-student and consumer of design history and culture publications, it ticks so many boxes that to ‘merely’ enjoy it is really quite easy. While there has been much said about Helvetica+ since its publication in 2011, readers might wonder why a review, so late in the day is worthwhile. Like all good design books, each time one returns to it new things seem to come to the fore. But more important than this, I believe there have been some important omissions in the discussions and reviews since the publication of the MIT Press edition.
It was March 2nd, 2011, and I was fifteen-years old. I was in the clouds. My font family, Expletus Sans, had just gone live on the Google Webfonts Directory (now simply called Google Fonts). Plenty of positive feedback and a generous reward from Google had made me expect a lot of it. But it didn’t take very long before I started laughing at the high regard I once had for Expletus Sans, and its silly name. The elegance I once saw in it was soon mixed with a decent dose of clumsiness and amateurism. However, Expletus Sans did provide me with the motivation and opportunity to invest in my skills, and keep designing typefaces.
A geometric script by Kyle Wayne Benson, a technical workhorse from Hold Fast Foundry, a lined display by TipoType, a classic grotesque from Parachute, an upright script by Stephen Rapp, a contemporary family from PSY/OPS, a geometric sans by Nootype, and an elegant script from Misprinted Type.
Our daily lives are full of noise, but when we immerse ourselves in reading, it seems to disappear. But what if the shapes of the words we read also contain perceptible noise? Does it disrupt the reading process, or do we learn to filter it out?
Xavier Dupré is a world-renowned type designer. After studying calligraphy and typography at the Scriptorium de Toulouse, France, he collaborated with Ladislas Mandel. Since then, he has established himself in Cambodia where he designs typefaces with as much freedom as possible. He appreciates Licko’s creativity, as much as the fluidity and calligraphic tensions in Slimbach’s works, and the simplicity of the design of Carter or Unger. Xavier began type design on screen but then moved back to pencil drawings on tracing paper and even painting with gouache.
An American Gothic from Type Supply, smooth and balanced forms by Typefolio, an innovative face from Optimo, an Art Deco inspired gothic by Neil Summerour, a dynamic slab-serif from FontFont, a calligraphy style face by Great Lakes Lettering, a brush flavoured script from Fontfabric, and a hand-lettered family by Debi Sementelli.
A contemporary serif from Klim, a hand crafted family by Laura Worthington, a modern classic from Linotype, a transitional serif by Canada Type, a technical sans from The Northern Block, a handmade face by LeType, a humanistic sans from GarageFonts, and a beautiful script by Insigne.
A brush script from Sudtipos, a unicase face by Latinotype, a graceful script via Fairgoods, an optimized serif from Nootype, a plump display by Fontyou, a functional sans from The Northern Block, a strong family by Colophon, a modern rounded sans from Typedepot, another exotic face by Fontyou, and a delicate sans from Tipo Pèpel.