Monday, December 13, 2010

The Typeface That Made Me Appreciate My Craft

Watching the documentary film Helvetica made me realize how significant stories behind simple things are. Even the creation of a font type (typeface) that most of us nowadays are commonly using and we don’t even think about has a tale to be told. The birth of Helvetica and the reason of its existence have been expressed in the video. Designers long ago were thinking of a neutral typeface that could be used in any applications, in a wide variety of prints and signage. Helvetica is of sans-serif type, and its form and structure is so simple yet shows the clearness of expression. 

As an enthusiast of calligraphy, I take time in choosing the appropriate typefaces for different mediums. I often use cursive and oblique styles for hand-lettered cards, but that’s suitable for formal and elegant invitations and the like. Yet if I find a hard time looking for a proper font type that would still look fair, I choose for Arial-types (or now I know it belongs to the sans-serif family like Helvetica). Not elaborate, no embellishment but still straightforward and no biases - fine for labels and tags. For me, the nature of its form would give chance to artists to think of creative ways to put enhancements such as tails, cursive styles and more. It is still left for the artist’s taste anyway. 

Vignelli's intro captured me, and I guess he's right when he said that everywhere there is visual disease and the role of a designer is like a medicine doctor - healing this kind of visual disease by design. In the modern world we have right now, if you opt to be noticed by just plain text among the pool of colors, figures, and shapes, you should pick a typeface that will bring out the identity of your figure. It does not need to be so complicated though, since the signage you are making would depend on what lies behind the words you represent it. As what Crouwel expressed, clarity is significant. Having more than one typeface you see one after another day really drives you crazy. The art of designing typefaces really takes time and effort, considering the organization and balance of lines and spaces, not mentioning the style of your letters. From a typeface with a neutral design, one can explore through the variations of figures, spaces, and lines, creating a more clear and legible typography. As what Savan said, the beauty of Helvetica attracts users and designers not just because of its simplicity and neutrality but its impression upon viewers which are the essence of efficiency and fairness, no streak of authority or other striking personality. 

There were also morally-opposed to Helvetica for some reasons. I believe that they were the same reasons why I make every effort with lettering typefaces with similar styles just like Helvetica. Although its design exhibits clean and straightforward appearance, most artists especially the inventive types attempt with exploring beyond the plain curves and lines. That is why they tend to let go of the press-type Helvetica print, get away with the orderly and smooth surface and unfold with illustration-type and in abstract ways. Many also say it is boring, typically because it is plainly simple. And that nature of Helvetica typeface is not so impressive to me especially when it comes to creative invitation designs. I guess I only use Helvetica-type fonts when I have no more styles in mind to stamp into signages that are just of label types such as project frontpages or subtitles. 

It's good to know how these things were made - ordinary art forms such as a font type which gave way to typefaces that we've all been using everyday - and getting to know its impact to the community. It's mere existence has greatly affected how every design we see in our surroundings are crafted. Typefaces when applied to a creation have something to say. So anyone should choose a typograph that would exactly convey what the signage stands for. Everybody may not notice it but most signages in the streets are rooted in the Helvetica design. That is why most people seem not to admire its design because it seems so overused, boring, and thus not interesting. Yet its art of conformity wraps a blanket of sameness into the craft. Understanding these made me appreciate more of typography (and calligraphy), that plain letters that are merely written or printed express more than what the eyes can see. Typography could have personality - it derives more meaning to the label it stands for.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why Do We Need To Study Technology


When we look at things around us we can’t help but see equipments mainly run by electronics, machines operated by computers, gadgets with applications from and even ideas and concepts revolutionized by technology, affecting manually-done processes being upgraded into more mechanized and automated means. These are the usual things going on around us that make people think technology is at its height. Anywhere and anything that we typically go to, use, see, and feel have some sorts of technological applications as far as tools and devices in daily living are concerned. Maybe we just seem to notice that humans are using and depending on technology.

Technology in its basic nature not only deals with gadgets and machines, but in every innovative way or ideas and concepts along the way. Thus the advent of technology is not within the last century only. It roots back to the ancient times when humans learned how to use fire in daily living. It's just the way we describe how "high-tech" we are right now in the tangible sense.

So why is there a need to study technology? We have to study technology for various reasons - we have to get to know it. Just because almost all our ways and means uses technology, there should be knowledge on how to use them properly. And I mean in the responsible sense.

We need to study how technology was long before it reached this stage of great height. Thus there is a need to go back how it all started, and how people long ago came with innovative concepts to create something almost out of nothing. Or in the basic sense of how life was lived long ago. That is still technology.

We need to study the history of technology, because by knowing its past, we can understand its present, and predict and control its future.

We need to study the cycle of technology to be able to understand the fullness of it, and to know how things are changing. So from it we could learn how to balance its stages and effects - benefits and disadvantages - and be able to deal with it.

We need to study technology to know the trends of mankind's existence. Because it has become a part of human's nature of dealing with life on earth.

Technology is born out of mankind's desire to help himself, to find tools to aid in his work. Yet most of us now has been affected by its adverse ways of using - to the extent of harming the nature's balance. Thus there is great need to study technology. As technology is made not to enslave people. People should use technology.