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"We have too many fonts?"

Discussion in 'Font Forum:' started by amyerose, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. amyerose

    amyerose New Member


    I came across this quote by Massimo Vignelli the other day and wondered what other designers opinions were.

    "We have too many fonts"

    Vignelli was a strong believer of designers only having a small box of typefaces and that no matter what the project they should only use these and not venture out into using elaborative illustrative ones, that will never have the "timeless" effect that design should have.

    As a student studying an MA in graphic design it would be good to see other people's opinions. For me I believe that new "classics" would need to be created in an ever growing digital age. But with so many typefaces being created everyday to try and satisfy design problems to give themselves an unique edge, does using a limited type palette actually accentuate design, by being able to stand out from the illustrative and one purpose fonts?

    Thanks for being part of the discussion

  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    We don't have too many fonts, we just have a lot of choice. It's how we use those fonts that's important.

    I believe you should pick and choose a selection of fonts that work for different situations and build your own 'font toolbox'. This way you'll know which of your fonts to use for a certain effect, just like how a mechanic or joiner know which of their tools are best for certain situations.
    amyerose likes this.
  3. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Of course there are those times that you'll hammer a screw in just to get by :p
    amyerose likes this.
  4. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    If I'm dangerously honest, I'm not really blown away by what I've seen of Vignelli (which is probably just the best-known stuff, I expect - I'm not really much of a student of the prominent designers). As a body of work, while it's clearly sticking to some solid, basic principles, it's all a bit austere for me, lacks range, and smacks a little too much of the bloody-mindedness that's often associated with the designer's personality (I think this is evident in his disparaging comments after American Airlines commissioned a new logo to replace the frankly bloody awful one he'd designed for them some 25 years earlier). Something like Helvetica - apparently one of his firm favourites - is a dependable font for sure but it's not moving anything forwards: still popular, still widespread but I think people are starting to regard it as a bit retro now (although, having never really fallen out of favour, I'm not quite sure where I get this impression from).

    Simplicity and familiarity in typography is quick and easy to come by and it's difficult to argue against the classic 'go-to' fonts. To take Helvetica as an example, it's a hard font to misuse but it's an easy one to overuse. Are there too many fonts? There are certainly too many bad fonts in circulation but there's also an abundance of well-constructed typefaces, all of which have their place. 'Timelessness', in any case, isn't always the thing to aim for.
    Paul Murray and amyerose like this.
  5. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    We've got only the one font - actually it's more of a water feature to be honest.
    amyerose likes this.
  6. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

  7. amyerose

    amyerose New Member

    How would you approach selecting a typeface to use?

    Out of the past projects worked on how many different typefaces do you think you have used in total?

    What is your "go to" typeface/s and why this choice?
  8. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    It depends on what it's going to be used for. Ideally I would go with my gut, picking a font that feels right for the purpose (friendly, formal, aggressive, etc), but some fonts I often go back to are Source Sans, Open Sans, Roboto Slab, Univers, Trade Gothic, and Cambria.

    Really it depends though. Having a smaller selection prevents you being overwhelmed, and in theory, means you should know the nuance of each font.
    amyerose likes this.
  9. Big McCann

    Big McCann New Member

    I myself try keep my designs simplistic. fancy typefaces i feel can take away from the actual message of the said text. in some cases dont get me wrong it works wonders, in others it just doesnt mesh well. all down to the designer and their ethics i suppose
    amyerose likes this.
  10. Davidw

    Davidw Member

    Too many SIMILAR fonts...
    amyerose likes this.

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