A Response to Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica
Watching Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica, my thoughts focused on the magnitude of content transfer allowed by typeface. I’m captivated by words. The process of taking one’s thoughts and transferring them into a form of storytelling is an essential part of being human. I can spend hours upon hours contemplating ideas and producing words I feel best captures them.
But it’s often hard to think of the other side of things. Examining typeface, I realized I’ve never stopped to think of the process behind the literal invention of words. Who produces the typeface whose names I have become familiar, and what makes them aesthetically pleasing?
It’s funny to think of art as a business, but just as novels are acknowledged on the New York Times Best Seller list, I know the world of graphic design is no different. The popularity of Helvetica derived from an attempt to compete with Akzidenz-Grotesk in the Swiss market. It’s amazing to me how such miniscule variations of letters can revolutionize the way we communicate advertisement, fiction, etc. What is it about particular aesthetic that grabs people?
The same can be said about stories. What is it about particular messages that unify human beings? Not wishing to delve into psychology, I’ll stop with this point. I can only be amazed by the miniscule variation between typeface which can revolutionize the way we communicate human thought.