198. THE NON-DESIGNER'S TYPE BOOK
vu John ¿foliett
Fifteen years ago, how many typesetters and typographic designers did you
know on a first-name basis? And how many do you know today? I'm will¬
ing to bet my last, crumpled, 1980s vintage sheet of press type that most of
the people you know have a better type selection at their finger tips than
many professional typographers used to have in their shops. I'll do better
than that. I'll bet my treasured, white-handled, tooth-marked x-acto knife
that within the past hour or so, you've made a life-or-Helvetica decision.
Back when I was using that x-acto knife to burnish down that sheet of
press type, if someone had asked me to bring them up to date on current
type trends, I would have noted the revival of some dated faces like
Cheltenham, or the popularity of extra-tight letter spacing in headlines.
They probably would have looked at me and smirked, "Golly, I'm so
impressed! Tell me (yawn) more."
But hold on to your digital hat. That was then and this is now. The tech¬
nology of desktop and World Wide Web publishing has transformed the
old graphics neighborhood into a much more exciting, innovative, and
creative world. And that's why identifying trends is difficult. . . there's so
much happening on such a steep curve of change that current trends don't
have the opportunities that our ancestor trends had. But, hey, this is the
digital era and if you want to make it as a trend, you're going to have to
really wow us with your stuff.
For the sake of this discussion, let's say that trends in type refers to both font
design (the look and feel of the individual characters of a font) and to typo¬
graphic design (using type as the major visual element in layout and design.)
This makes a huge category, but I nominate the following six entries as the
most obvious candidates for trendom.