Typography and Design

This week I went to see “Century” 100 Years of Type in Design at the AIGA Gallery in New York City. There are a wide assortment of printed pieces on display, from custom prints, magazine covers and promotional materials for paper companies, to video interviews.

Viewing the designs made me want to write about why an understanding of typography is the most critical part of being a good designer. Each font and letterform has it’s own curves and/or hard edges that make it unique. Choosing the right font for an assignment is what makes that wordmark, book cover or marketing piece send the right signals and attract the right audience.

I have seen design by those who have not studied type and I’m afraid it shows. Another designer can spot this immediately. It’s fine to combine fonts, if those fonts compliment each other.

Did you know that when you are creating something and you lay the type in there, you must make sure the spacing is correct between the letters and from line to line. A great way to see if it’s balanced is to turn it upside down. When you do this, the letters become shapes and you can easily see the positive and negative spaces. Eventually, after many years of design, you will see this without having to turn the design.

Typography also plays a big role when you are choosing the paper the item will be printed on, as well as the color palette that’s appropriate. Everything must work in harmony together.

Here’s a photo gallery showing some of my favorite pieces from the AIGA exhibition. If you are local to New York City, this is a must-see show.

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