Comic Sans is a misunderstood typeface, says Ivan Belikov, a Russian born Graphic designer who moved to Chicago in late 80’s. Comic Sans is going to be recognized as the most influential typeface in the last 100 years by the Lyov (Лёв) Museum of Contemporary Design, Potyomkin. Comic Sans was chosen over Helvetica, Din 1451 Std, Gill Sans & Gotham Rounded for its sheer versatility and ease of use.
We think Comic Sans is a brilliant typeface. We tested it with 18 different cosmonauts and they could effortlessly read the type in space. No other typeface offeres this flexibility. Cosmonauts tested the typeface in simulated Zero-G environments and could read elaborate service manuals upside down. Comic Sans is the first certified font by the Soviet Space Restoration Program (SSRP) that can be used in space. — Igoryok Basilevsky, Functional Design for Space Center, SSRP
Due to lack of fundings the SSRP program was closed in mid 2008. However, the tests conducted between 1999 & 2005 have brought some irrefutable proof that Comic Sans is actually a very dynamic typeface.
The United States is also not very behind. In 2010, Belikov started The United States of America Department for Comic Sans with a vision to promote the use of Comic Sans in all spheres of life in the US.
So far the agency has been quite effective and the typeface is spreading like a wild fire, says Belikov. The following images are testaments to the agencie’s success.
Europe is also following the trail. French designers Thomas Blanc and Florian Amoneau have sought to spark a movement that aims to bring the respect Comic Sans has always deserved.
Just before this interview Belikov revealed that NASA might also follow SSRPs footsteps and use Comic Sans for its next space programme.
We are slightly baffled and confused but with so many powerful agencies backing up Comic Sans, we think it’s time for some retrospection. The omnipresent font has just become omnipotent.
Our sincere thanks to Miss Dvora who was instrumental in bringing this article to VSUAL.
Dvora Kulik, Design Intern
The United States of America Department for Comic Sans
MyFonts.com recently announced their most popular fonts of 2011. The results are based on the font sales from all of their typeface categories. The list includes “Reina,” an award- winning font that was inspired by classic fonts from the 1960s, “Alana,” a script font based on hand lettering, “Hera Big,” a display font that has eight different weights and italics and “Populaire,” a font with a hand-drawn feel that was inspired by posters that were made during the May 1968 student revolt in Paris.
Lián Types from Buenos Aires and its sister foundry Typesenses have been a staple of this list for several years now, and their typefaces are becoming more intricate each year. Introduced in March, the award-winning Reina is a sophisticated and imaginative variation on the high-contrast Didone model. Inspired by the classics Didot and Bodoni, and spiced up with influences from 1960s New York magazine lettering from the likes of Herb Lubalin, Reina is up there with the most whimsical of classicist and modern-face display type. A fine toolkit and plaything for making dazzling headlines.
It can be a big help to the discerning typographer when an oldstyle text face comes with a sans-serif companion that harmonizes beautifully with it, yet is different enough to add a new color to the typographic palette. This is exactly what Calluna Sans is to exljbris’s popular Calluna family. Like its older sister, the new family member respects oldstyle proportions and makes lucid statements with crisp details — but it does so in its own calm, sans-serif way. Its humanist qualities make it wonderfully readable; it comes with all the attributes needed for sophisticated typography: small caps, four numeral sets, and more.
Lettering artist Laura Worthington added several beautifully made script fonts to her popular typeface collection last year, including Samantha Script and her latest offering, Rosarian. But it was Alana that outsold all her other work — one of the year’s biggest hits. Natural-looking and subtly irregular, Alana strikes a nice balance between a casual and a formal script face. Based on hand lettering, it indulges in elaborate swashes and ornaments without losing its friendly character and slightly nonchalant look and feel. We recommend OpenType-enabled design software to get the full effect of Alana’s features.
After a string of display faces that embody the “latino” approach to type — colorful, original and a bit cheeky — Sánchez was Latinotype’s first extensive family suitable for body text as well as headlines. A confident alternative to Rockwell, this modern-day slab serif offers more personal lettershapes than most slab serif classics, and subtly rounded edges. Its success in 2011 was greatly helped by the fact that the regular weights are free — a minimal extra investment in SemiBold and/or Bold weights gives you a very affordable small family. Plus, it’s on sale through January 21 — a 40% discount!
Belluccia was the first typeface by the newly formed team comprising lettering artist Debi Sementelli and type designer Brian Bonislawsky ofAstigmatic fame. Their joint venture Correspondence Ink was immediately successful with this lovely handwritten font — a semi-formal script with a rugged edge. Belluccia successfully mimics custom calligraphy, using the wizardry of OpenType to automatically replace letter combinations with alternate forms: ligatures, swashes, stylistic and contextual alternates. For those who work with software that doesn’t handle OpenType magic, there are separate Standard fonts that make up the styles contained within the Pro font. Check out the wonderfulFlourishes, Borders and Ornaments.
Brooklyn-based Lucas Sharp of the newly founded studio Pagan & Sharpmade quite a splash last year with his first typeface Hera Big. Successfully exploring the extremes of vertical stress and high contrast (think Bodoni and Didot) in a contemporary mood of playfulness and exuberance, the family members cover a huge range of weights, from Extra Thin to Big Black; gutsy ball terminals play a defining role across the family but work a bit differently in each weight. With eight weights plus italics, Hera Big provides a fine set of display fonts for many occasions.
The Bulgarian studio Typedepot scored a big hit with their chic Centrale Sans. Released at a bargain price, it sailed smoothly to the number one spot in MyFonts’ Hot New Fonts list, and continues to do well. As shown by various cases during the past year, it takes more than just a great introductory discount to capture customers’ attention. Centrale Sans is a well-made sans-serif with a personal touch, adding a welcome new color to the well populated category of multi-functional, readable sans-serifs. It combines geometric cool, humanist friendliness and clear, open shapes, making Centrale Sans a good performer on the screen as well.
Burgues Script is yet another monumental script face from Sudtipos. Based on the work of American calligrapher Louis Madarasz, Ale Paul’s typeface is an interpretation rather than a straightforward digitization. In order to be able to produce digital calligraphy with a natural flow, Paul had to reinvent many of the letterforms, adapting the flexibility and connectivity of the original lettering to the logic of digital machines. The digital flourishes of the prize-winning Burgues are no less dazzling than Madarasz’s hand-lettering. Burgues is a great choice for spectacular lettering — from wine bottles to tattoos.
One of the year’s nicest surprises was the emergence of the one-man foundry Hoftype, directed by Dieter Hofrichter. A veteran of the Berthold studios, Hofrichter worked with the late Günter Gerhard Lange, who was probably the most exacting taskmaster German type design has ever known and whose meticulously corrected proofs are the stuff of legend. In less than a year, Hoftype launched a stunning collection of text families — well-made, versatile and affordable — with Cassia as the biggest success. A dynamic modern-face, somewhere halfway between a humanized slab serif and an updated Clarendon, it is more individual and agile than most slab serifs. Superbly readable, Cassia comes with small caps for all weights, a wealth of ligatures and multiple figure styles.
This year’s crop of most popular fonts has more connected, swashy scripts than ever — and yet, each is surprisingly different from the rest. For Melany Lane, Yellow Design Studio took the flourished shapes of traditional lettering, and added the quirks and warmth of informal hand-drawn type. The regular version is monolinear — its strokes don’t change in thickness — which gives it the feel of an alphabet drawn with a felt-tipped pen. Melany Lane comes with swashes and stylistic alternates for extra funkiness and fun, as well as 118 lovely ornaments and a free set of fourteen seamless background patterns.
In September we interviewed Svetoslav Simov, the young Bulgarian designer who runs Fontfabric. An admirer of 1930s and 1960s constructed letterforms and icons, Simov has a knack for geometric alphabets with a logo-like quality. Of his 2011 releases, Code Pro did extremely well, and has remained a steady seller to date. It is a kind of ITC Avant Garde on performance-enhancing substances. Even the lighter weights have a muscular assertiveness thanks to the disciplined geometry of their glyphs. Its extreme Light and Black weights offer great possibilities for spectacular headlines, while its middle weights will work both in headlines and medium-length text settings. The demo versions of Code Pro Light and Regular are still offered free of charge.
Mishka is part of a series of pleasant script-like typefaces launched bythe Fenotype foundry, recalling hand-made pub and shop lettering. While several of the earlier fonts — fonts like Verner and Pepita Script — were mildly successful, the playful Mishka joined the year’s elite of best selling fonts. Mixing clear and informal lettershapes with a taste for the exuberant, Mishka is a pleasant upright script with a decorative touch. It offers plenty of options to customize headlines — just activate Swashes, Stylistic Alternates or Contextual Alternates in any OpenType-savvy program. Its small caps are a font within a font: an energetic set of caps that combine well with the scripts but offer a distinct style.
Brazil’s PintassilgoPrints found its groove last year, producing a stream of spirited display fonts with a playful, handcrafted feel. As they pointed out in their recent Creative Characters interview, they like the happy mistakes of hand-drawn letters, the “wrong notes” in the design — but at the same time they want their fonts to be technically perfect and eminently usable. Populaire is a case in point. Inspired by the postersmade during the May 1968 student revolt in Paris, Populaire taps into the energy of that period’s hand-drawn and silkscreened posters, while using digital font technology to offer four exchangeable glyphs for each letter. The result is a flexible font that looks as fresh and spontaneous as hand-rendered lettering.
The mouth-watering, smoothly flowing Gelato Script lives up to its name (Italian for “ice cream”), and consequently became the year’s most successful brush script font — ideal for packaging, café menus and magazines. Influenced by both formal scripts and mid-twentieth century hand lettering, its luscious curves make it attractive to a wide audience. For expert users, it has the additional benefit of being equipped with all the amenities of meticulous OpenType programming. With 781 glyphs, this font has many faces and speaks many different languages.
Berlin’s HVD Fonts has a knack for coming up with the right typeface at the right moment, and marketing strategies to match. Pluto’s release at an introductory offer that seemed too good to be true resulted in sensational sales; some months later, Pluto Italics all but repeated that meteoric success. As the fonts are decidedly lovely — a happy-looking, lively sans-serif family with a strong personality — it comes as no surprise that Pluto continues to sell well at the full, but still quite reasonable, price. There is little doubt that MyFonts’ best-selling typeface of 2011 has a bright future ahead of it.
MyFonts is a digital fonts distribution, location based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, selling fonts through the www.myfonts.com web site. It launched in September 1999 (during the ATypI conference in Boston), and started selling fonts in March 2000.
MyFonts pioneered a new model of font distribution, based on the long tail phenomenon: an all-inclusive inventory from which total sales can beat those of a carefully chosen collection. Every font that meets basic technical and legal criteria is accepted for distribution. Designers set their own license terms and their own prices, while MyFonts gets a 50 percent cut of sales.
There are few pieces that represent the typographic and design spirit that illuminated that moment of history,
and certainly none on a scale as ambitious. Milton Glaser
Gastrotypographicalassemblage is a 35 feet (11 m) wide by 8.5 feet (2.6 m) tall work of art designed by Lou Dorfsman to decorate the cafeteria in Eero Saarinen’s CBS Building on 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue, New York City, New York, USA. With custom type created by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase, the installation contains almost 1500 individual characters.
As the senior vice president and creative director for marketing communications and design for the Columbia Broadcasting System, Dorfsman was responsible for all aspects of the building’s graphics, designating the type, design and spacing for wall clocks, elevator buttons, and elevator inspection stickers. He designed what he called Gastrotypographicalassemblage for the building’s cafeteria, using varied typefaces to list all of the foods offered to patrons in hand-milled wood type. The completed work was based on ideas conceived in the mid-1960s. The project was ultimately completed in 1966 with assistance from graphic designer Herb Lubalin, and Tom Carnase, who crafted the typography from Dorfsman’s original design. Dorfsman considered this work to be “his magnum opus, his gift to the world”.
Gastrotypographicalassemblage was discarded in the early 1990s by CBS, but the work’s nine panels were retrieved by designer Nick Fasciano. It was in an advanced state of disrepair, aggravated by improper storage. The piece was acquired by the Atlanta-based Center for Design Study, which has undertaken an effort to raise the funds needed to support the restoration of the work of art. The group’s goal is to restore Gastrotypographicalassemblage and to use it in a permanent traveling exhibition focusing on historical American design, and using the piece as an example of the value of intelligently applied design.
Lou Dorfsman in 1982, at the “Gastrotypographicalassemblage” he created for the CBS cafeteria.
File Photograph of Lou Dorfman (extreme-right) with Ed Katz and Bob Denverand Marlene Dietrich
Louis “Lou” Dorfsman (1918 – October 22, 2008) was a graphic designer who oversaw almost every aspect of the advertising and corporate identity for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in his forty years with the network.
Lou Dorfsman joined CBS during 1946 after leaving the U.S. army. Dorfsman was attracted to CBS because of its “high graphic standards.” For 41 years, he would work within CBS, shaping every aspect of its design and advertising. He became the Art Director of CBS Radio during 1951, five short years after joining CBS, and graduated to Creative Director of the CBS Television Network during 1960. Dorfsman was appointed Director of Design for CBS, Inc. during 1964, and he became Vice President and Creative Director of the CBS Broadcast group during 1968. Alongside William S. Paley and Frank Stanton, he shaped every aspect of their advertising and design, from their award-winning advertisements to the look of the convention floor to the appearance of Walter Cronkite and the CBS Newsroom. Dorfsman played an integral role in the Golden Age of Broadcast Television. During 1978, Dorfsman became Senior Vice President and Creative Director for Marketing Communications and Design for the CBS Broadcast Group. Milton Glaser called him simply “the best corporate designer in the world,” a testament to the beauty and strength of his ideas, which still resonate with designers of all ages.
In 1978, Dorfsman was recognized as a medalist by the AIGA, “awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication”.
The Art Director’s Club, of which Dorfsman was a past president, honored him through the years with 13 Gold Medals and 23 awards of Distinctive Merit for outstanding work in print and television advertising, packaging, film titling, book design and direct mail. He won two Clios and five 50 Ads of the Year. During 1978, The Art Director’s Club inducted Lou into the Art Directors Hall of Fame , and the AIGA awarded him with its annual AIGA Medal during the same year. He was the recipient in 1984 and 1989 of an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the New School of Social Research and the Long Island University, respectively.
The 1988 book Dorfsman & CBS by Dick Hess and Marion Muller covered his more than 40 years with the network.