December 12, 2007

What type am I?

My obsession with Typography is overwhelming. I often interrupt my girlfriend, Julie, mid-sentence to enthusiastically point out a billboard type treatment or poor use of Helvetica on public signage. She humors me by feigning genuine interest, and I appreciate her all the more for it.

The latest trend in typography; chunky, geometric, illustrative wording with the counters removed, has me both enthralled and perplexed. When executed well it can make a bold graphic statement, but it also has the allure of a fad so ostentatious that it's days are numbered. In spite of my better judgment, I found myself so caught up in this ├╝ber hip typographical style that I started re-designing the Studiostein logo in it. It took me only about an hour to render all the letterforms—an indication that this style doesn't require exceptional finesse. I knew there was tweaking to do, but I felt confident in the design overall. So I presented it to Julie, who I jokingly refer to as my Art Director (I pretend it's a joke, but she's actually very deserving of the title) and waited with baited breath for her response.

Studiostein Typography

Okay, my breath wasn't actually bated. I knew Julie would see through the stylistic excess and realize that this type treatment didn't actually connect with the Studiostein identity. She was right.

Eye magazine creative director, Nick Bell, wrote that there are two types of designers; "agents of neutrality" and "aesthetes of style." While I often fantasize about being the latter—designing exclusively for the sake of expressing my raw creative vision—I think it's more accurate to concede that my purpose as a designer is to communicate the client's message. I reserve self gratification for one side project in particular: The Propagandizer.

While I'm still trying to develop a unique visual language to call my own, this exercise (and Julie in particular) helped me remember that my style isn't dictated by fads. I think it's critical to stay current on design trends and to incorporate them sparingly, but in the end they all pass.

3 comments:

Doug Fuller said...

I have the same feelings about this that you do. I often try to create something with a focus on style and, while it's often successful, it never quite feels honest to me. Not that focusing on style is necessarily dishonest, but it's just not true to who I am.

I always thought that as a designer I shouldn't have a recognizable style, but then I realized that my work will always be a reflection of who I am and, therefore, have a "style" that is mine.

Jess said...

Of course, you have seen the documentary "Helvetica" by now. Right?

Studiostein said...

Actually, no, I haven't seen Helvetica yet. What the hell kind of a typophile am I?! It was on my holiday wish list, but was passed up for other, equally desirable gifts (I made out like a bandit this year). I almost purchased it from Amazon just yesterday, but for some reason I'd rather buy it from an retail store, rather than an online vendor—so I closed the page before hitting the "Buy" button.