Feed Me: Helvetica: A love & hate relationship?

Target. Crate & Barrel. Toyota. American Airlines. Etc. These are just a few examples of everyday brand. But, what do they all have in common? Helvetica.

You see it everywhere, but you don’t realize it. You think you know it, but you don’t. I sure didn’t. It wasn’t until I took my first graphic design class that I realized how this specific sans-serif typeface is so widely used. Not only that, but how many people are such font snobs — specifically Helvetica snobs.

Now, there’s seriously nothing wrong with Helvetica snobs or Helvetica for that matter. It’s no Arial, but I’m sure they know what they’re doing. It’s a typeface that is very versatile…it’s been a choice by default for many years. But do you think the creative, so-called graphic designers just can’t think of other typefaces to use that can take the place of Helvetica? Even I can not answer that question.

In the documentary film, Helvetica, they talked about how great this face is, or how its personality is unique…it can be anything! The film also aims to show Helvetica’s beauty and ubiquity, and illuminate the personalities that are behind typefaces. It also explores the rift between modernist and postmodernist, with the latter expressing and explaining their criticisms of the famous typeface.

Love it. Hate it. It’s here to stay. I’m no snob, but I came to understand the uniqueness of this default design typeface. I slowly understood what Helvetica was all about, and I use it myself. I use it because it doesn’t have feelings. No personality. Stoic. Like a store’s mannequin. Give it an outfit, some color…it becomes something. It becomes its own.

It’s what a minimalist wants. To be creative with the confines of a corporate environment that is Helvetica.

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