Fonts

I know nothing about fonts at all. But I’m going to try to write about them. No, there won’t be any snazzy typeface-changes as you read this, I’m literally just going to talk about fonts I like. Futura (I think is its name) is quite good. I read something about it in a graphic design magazine I picked up out of curiosity last year. There was this whole analysis of this font and its history and the intricacies of the design process that produced it, it was pretty mind-blowing. I can’t remember what it actually said, but I thought ‘wow I never knew people thought about fonts this much’.

Turns out if anything exists there is a community of people who are genuinely interested in thinking about it for long periods of their lives – usually they can be found on reddit. Moreover, the more mundane or boring a thing is the more intensely passionate its fanatics get. I call this ‘Rotter’s Law’ after a boy I went to school with who’d insist on telling me all about cricket despite me never showing any interest in it. All around the world people absodoringly love the differences in these shapes we take as representative of a potential sound. They’re probably quite weird people – but fair enough to them. 

Now I’m going to take you through the fonts I can see right now. I’m writing this in a quiet pub because I don’t want to walk all the way down to the university campus in this weather. Ok it isn’t actually raining now, but I’m feeling lazy and always wanted to be one of those people who would just go somewhere semi-public and treat it as their own place. Kind of like Dorothy Parker with the Algonquin Hotel, or some amphetamine-sweating mod in a coffee shop in 1965. You see in that last sentence I showed you how cultured and cool I am. I know drugs, and British subcultures, and literature. That kind of attitude can make people think writing about fonts is some ironic artsy point, and if you are one of those people then I’ve won. 

The food menu here has one of those fake painty-chalky sort of fonts to show how approachable and casual this venue is. It’s quite bland hipster-fare and the pub sells £5 pints, making it the priciest on the street, and therefore making its menu font choice a lie. I quite like the bit that says ‘Breakfast served all day!’ because it’s kind of drifting out of the box containing the breakfast foods. Like the box ends halfway up the word breakfast, bifurcating it into two words that could – if you squint – look like ‘nnr[?]vr[?]c[?]’ above ‘DncHnrH[?]I’, but those don’t mean anything obviously.

Above the bar there’s a large red neon sign reading: ‘One for the Road’. The script is curly, what the Americans might call cursive. It’s fine but looking at it for too long hurts your eyes because of the light. Also the sentiment of it, ‘One for the Road’, seems a little dodgy. You really shouldn’t be drinking if you’re about to interact with roads as a driver or a pedestrian – and it can’t mean take one with you because they don’t let you take pint glasses here and the neighbourhood is technically an alcohol-free zone outside. I know that because a police officer told me and two mates that we could be arrested if we drank a bottle of white wine on a bench near campus. Seems silly I know.

Out the window I can see a fair amount of graffiti and to be honest it looks hard to do. I don’t know who ‘SNAPE’ is but how did he get up that railway bridge. Probably a broom stick. I’m funny too. I read about some New York graffiti artists who nearly died perching on the outside of a subway car to tag it. I come from that same lineage, having spent many hours of my childhood scratching triangles into my desk during classics lessons. Never a subway car though.

Out the other window there’s a rotting wooden sign saying: ‘DO YOU KNOW! WE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE TIMBER PALLETS, CRATES & CASES TO YOUR SPECIFICATION’. The font is inoffensive, not dissimilar to a bold Futura but a little squashed too. It needs a question mark instead of an exclamation point though. Tssk. I don’t think I’d buy that timber, it’s in pretty rough shape. It’s funny that there are two sign shops near my house, and both of their shop signs have partially fallen down. Why is it that we are worst at the things we pride ourselves in? Maybe it’s a sign-industry thing. I was talking to my mum the other day about how little I want to own a curtain shop. Imagine all the possibilities in the world, and you wind up selling curtains to people every day. What a dreary existence that’d be. Maybe the curtain-sellers are like the font people. Maybe they absolutely love everything about curtains. Maybe they spend every morning thinking about different hook materials, every afternoon contemplating fabric grades, and every night posting on curtain forums on the internet while their partner lies in the bed next to them contemplating divorce or suicide.

I prefer serif fonts to sans-serif – they feel more proper and I’ve always liked Victorian aesthetics. They can be a bit stuffy though, so I’m writing this in Calibri – I can’t remember the name of the one it will be on the website. Oh yeah. This pub doesn’t have wifi, so I’m writing this on Word. I should have better things to do. I don’t mind a curly font, my first name is quite curly so I’ve always felt an affinity towards fonts that suited it. Comic Sans isn’t great but I’m more irritated by people who feel the need to talk about how much it sucks all the time. Like, who actually cares that much about fonts? I know they don’t, they just want something wacky to say for the eleven months of the year when they can’t say Die Hard’s their favourite Christmas movie. The guy who designed it is called Vincent Connare, and apparently he enjoys the hate it gets. Good on you, Vincent. I heard that Comic Sans was actually based on the graphic novels The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, and weirdly enough this pub has a bald blue mannequin outside it that looks very similar to Dr Manhattan inWatchmen. Weird, right? 

Fulham Football Club also had a player called Rui Fonte for a bit. It’s probably pronounced ‘fon-tay’ but we always said it as ‘font’. As I said, funny.

by Rui Typeface

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