Bucking the type trend in 2012
Posted by: Typespec
Date added: Tue 10 Jan 2012
I can't believe it's 3 years since I penned a 'typography trends' article for Creative Review, predicting which technological breakthroughs would unfold in 2009 and the fonts/type styles that would feature most prominently.
Back in 2009 I was talking about the rise of the informal 'smart script'; intelligent fonts, often handwritten in style, designed to take advantage of OpenType's programming technology and create wonderfully authentic pseudo-random effects when set in OT savvy applications.
Since 2009 we've had the iPAD, the emergence of the app market and the escalating typographic challenges that go with designing or engineering a font for use on a mobile device. Perhaps the biggest advance typographically speaking is the webfont revolution, browsers finally catching up with new webfont formats such as WOFF, freeing users and designers from the creative shackles of web workhorse fonts like Verdana, Georgia et al. Corporate identities are more cohesive and brand guidelines more seamlessly applied now that internet styling has fallen into line and designers can use pretty much any font they want or need to. Whether or not it's up to the task is another matter; only a tiny proportion of available webfonts have been optimised for screen use, the vast majority being mere conversions.
2012 should see a bit of a shakedown in the webfont marketplace as companies such as Fontdeck, Typekit and WebINK (Extensis) jostle for position, taking on the might of Google's free service and Monotype's combined force, recently augmented by the acquisition of Bitstream and their incredibly successful MyFonts website. Where next for Monotype in 2012 and their insatiable acquisitions appetite I hear you cry? Adobe's type library perhaps, or Fontshop International?
I'm not making any predictions for 2012, instead I'll proffer a wishlist of sorts. First up I'd like reputable companies and designers who should know better to stop using rubbish free fonts downloaded from dafont.com and their ilk; there may be a recession on but this tendency to seek out a freebie is nearly always a false economy when it comes to type, poor craftsmanship and incomplete character sets being the norm.
Secondly I'd like to echo what type designer and lawyer (a rare combination!) Matthew Butterick blogged on Fontfeed.com last month, challenging designers to shun overused typefaces and seek out fresh alternatives to their worn out old workhorses. "The very future of typography", according to Butterick, "will become indistinguishable from its past, as overexposed faces become immovable. If you’re a page designer who cares about typography, don’t reinforce the natural inertia. Plenty of others will do that. Instead, take the contrarian path. Avoid bundled fonts. Avoid yesterday’s classics. Avoid today’s trends. Most importantly, vote with your wallet: buy more fonts made by living type designers. Put those fonts in your projects. Encourage others to do the same. It’s a principled investment in the future of typography."
Couldn't agree more Matthew.
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