Gotham is a family of sans serif typefaces designed by Tobias Frere-Jones. It’s hardly surprising that I find it so aesthetically pleasing given that its letterforms are inspired by New York signage, New York and signage being two things I’m kind of obsessed with. My first brush with Gotham came a few years ago when I was designing some books for Jamie Durie Publishing, but more famous examples of its use are on the cornerstone of the One World Trade Center and as the typeface of choice for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign material. I read an article in The New York Times that noted that ‘every element of [Obama’s] visual identity has been masterfully conceived and executed to depict [him] as perfect presidential material’. So, does a typeface a president make? Obviously there is more to it than that, but there is no doubt we have a typeface of our time, a president of our time, and we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Awful Futura, fabulous Futura. I will use almost any other typeface before I will resort to Futura! It is over-used, ill-used, thoughtlessly used. And yet its alphabet contains some perfect letter forms and when used appropriately and wisely it is stylish beyond measure. It elicits such a reaction from me because I have had to use it too often, particularly in school textbooks where the ‘a’ most closely matches the ‘a’ of the Foundation Style method that’s used to teach kids to write. Upper case Futura looks great and lower case works well for headings, but to me it reads badly as body text, and therein lies the rub.
I love Clarendon Bold. According to Jaspert’s Dictionary of Typefaces it was originally put out in 1845 by Robert Besley & Co (formerly the Fann Street Foundry) as a heavy face to accompany an ordinary roman in dictionaries and the like. I like slab serifs generally, but I like Clarendon particularly well, especially the upper case R, which exudes boldness and solidity and gutsiness while simultaneously showing off a touch of quirkiness. Clarendon shouts look at me, I am not ordinary, which I guess is why it was perfect for those American Wild West Wanted posters. Clarendon is not a typeface I use very often, but it is striking and worthy and I am pleased to have made its acquaintance.