“The truly modern is what we would hold today to be timelessly perfect.”

Today’s typography topic has to do with typefaces that have remained in the public eye for over half a century or more, whether we’re aware of it or not. What am I talking about exactly? Classic, modern typefaces, in particular, typefaces from the International Typographic Style era in graphic design.

Helvetica Poster: Far'N'Beyond Studio

Helvetica Poster: Far’N’Beyond Studio

The first font to discuss is the most popular if not the most controversial one designed in that era. Helvetica was designed in 1957 by Swiss type designer Max Miedinger. It quickly became one of the most widely used fonts of the time for it’s smooth, geometric, versatile look. Today, it is used everywhere, especially for branding and street signs. Some designers love it, even committing to using only Helvetica in their work. Others hate Helvetica, deeming it to be boring and overly used; playing it safe so to speak.

I personally love Helvetica. It has many uses and has a “cool” timeless look to it. It especially goes well with solid colors and geometric shapes and patterns. While I don’t use it in my personal designs that often, there is always a time and a place to use Helvetica.

Futura Poster: Author Unknown

The next font, also a largely popular one, is Futura. Designed in 1927 by Paul Renner, Futura is a go-to font for many designers. Aaron Draplin, who created the Field Notes notebook series, and filmmaker Wes Anderson, are known for using Futura in their work. Draplin is partial to Futura Condensed Bold, while Anderson sticks to the basic version of Futura.

Futura is a sans serif geometric font. Because of this, it has a very distinct look, being inspired by triangles and circles in order to create its letterforms. Designers of the Bauhaus school of art also liked to use Futura for this reason. This typeface is so popular today because it has a nostalgic feel, reminiscent of the ’50s and ’60s, partly because of it’s association with Wes Anderson films. Like Helvetica, some designers argue that it is too overused, that it is too much of a “go-to” font. However, looking at designs that feature Futura, it’s no wonder that it’s such a popular font. It’s hip, it has many style variations; Renner knew exactly what he was doing when he designed Futura.


Univers Poster: Risha Golden

The last typeface that has stood the test of time, another one of my favorites, is Univers. Univers was designed in 1954 by Adrian Frutiger. It was one of the first typefaces that had a family of numerous, consistent styles, thus being influential to the design of future typefaces. Today, it is used mostly in signage and logos.

Univers is one of my favorite typefaces because of all the styles it has, meaning it can be used for a variety of projects, especially editorial work. You can choose multiple levels of boldness, whether or not you want the type to be condensed, and whether or not you want it to be italicized or “oblique.”

So, what is the significance of these three typefaces? They’ve stood the test of time. They were designed in the early to mid 20th century, and are still being used today. As a graphic designer, timelessness is the ultimate goal, especially in the design of logos. Taking influence from these typefaces and their creators, I hope to design things that people will remember; things that will stay relevant. If my designs are recognizable, then my number one goal will have been achieved.


“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”


Today Is the Day for Galison / Mudpuppy: Jessica Hische

Today’s typography inspiration comes from three prominent female designers, all masters of their class with their own individual styles and personalities. Typography is one of my favorite forms of design. You can set the tone of just about anything with the style of type that’s used, the colors incorporated into it, the sizing, spacing, and alignment… Type is so influential both in how things are communicated and how the reader perceives it. The type that the following designers create are also very special, in that they made them all by hand. The hand-lettered quality makes the designs much more personal than fonts that were created digitally.

The first designer I want to discuss is Jessica HischeBorn in Pennsylvania, Jessica went to art school for design and eventually focused her education on illustration. She does hand lettering for advertising, books, branding and identity, editorial, and more. To name a few of her noteworthy clients, Ms. Hische has designed for Penguin Books and the filmmaker Wes Anderson. Famous designers in the industry are also fans of her work, like author Debbie Millman and Sam Weber.

Hische’s hand lettering is brilliant. Her style ranges from elegant script fonts, to vintage serifs with a modern vibe, to fancy, elegant Art Deco style typefaces.  Her color choices are usually bright and spunky, making her stand out from the crowd. Everything Hische has designed has a cool, nostalgic feel to it, making it no surprise that Wes Anderson worked with her on one of his most recent films, Moonrise Kingdom (2012).

Not only is she skilled in hand lettering, but she is also passionate about teaching others. She consults with designers professionally, holds half hour sessions for student portfolio reviews, and speaks at conferences. Hische even posts emails of designers asking her questions along with her responses. She’s always willing to give advice to fellow creatives that happen to be seeking it. This is inspiring to me because in creative communities, people are always helping each other either through advice or collaboration. Creativity inspires more creativity.


Unpublished Entertainment Weekly Cover: Molly Jacques

The next inspiring designer/illustrator is Molly Jacques. Hailing from Michigan and holding a degree from Detroit’s College of Creative Studies, she is known for her swirly, elegant script hand lettering. She started out at a high-end paper company, which is where she discovered her love of calligraphy.

Jacques’ work is featured mainly in editorial design. Her organic, curly lettering style has appeared on a variety of magazine covers like The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly. She has also designed artwork for stationary, and sells art prints, brush textures, and fonts she designed herself.

She also teaches typeface design through workshops, which a few of my fellow AIGA members were lucky enough to be a part of. Like Hische, Jacques also takes part in speaking events.

Saks Heart: Marian Bantjes

Saks Heart: Marian Bantjes

The last designer I want to talk about is a woman by the name of Marian Bantjes. Bantjes work is interesting to say the least. She started out as a typesetter, ran a design studio, and now works as a freelancer. Her quirky style is all over the place, with messy script type, collages using bodies of type from library books, mosaic inspired text, and more.

Bantjes is also very outspoken and opinionated when it comes to design, which is also inspiring to me. It’s wonderful seeing someone talk about what they believe in instead of focusing solely on their artwork. It makes them much more personable.

All three women I mentioned have their own unique personalities and styles, which is what I strive to have as a graphic designer. Through years of practice and support of their loved ones, they were able to make it as freelance illustrators. One day I hope to develop this fascinating, valuable skill so that my design work will stand out instead of being digitalized and rigid like so many typefaces have become. I also want to follow their lead and teach others to be creative too.