Know your type — Part 1

When I was in the design college, there was one dreaded question that I always feared answering to myself – Which font to use in my next jury presentation (examination in design colleges are referred as juries)? There were some particular assignments where the purpose was so obvious that choosing a font was easy. But what about the design assignments where the things are not so much obvious. For a long long time, I relied on my intuition. It felt just like trying out a new dress or a makeup, you may or may not know if it is enhancing a certain feature or if it is balancing something, but if it feels right, you go with it. Eventually, I became somewhat good at this intuition stuff, but there was one thing that I still sucked at- Using different fonts together. I mean I have seen it being done so nicely. But somehow, I just could not do well with combining serifs and sans serifs. Honestly, it seemed like a lot of risk.

Then there are others who rely a lot on finding a standard or I think a more correct word would be safe font that works almost in all the situations. These typefaces are somewhat neutral and work almost in most of the situation. At least, in web they work great. A perfect example would be Open Sans. I have personally used it on my lazy days or at times when I wanted to “avoid” taking any risks.

But I am designer with a sickness. I feel uneasy about taking shortcuts/hacks to avoid a little effort. I started feeling more uncomfortable when I started giving my design services. Though my work majorly consisted of UX design, I knew that the choice of a font goes long way in determining a brand personality. There are safe fonts to fall back on, but I used to wonder what it will be like to be on the other side.

So, few months back, I decided to learn typography in a “proper manner”. Trust me it will make a world of difference to not just your design or your confidence, but as your conscience as a designer. I am still learning and I think I will continue to do that for a long time, but since, I think I am a little ahead of where I used to be, it is a good place for me to start sharing it. So, I will talk about the basic anatomy of a letter, history of type, classification of typefaces, connotation, making smart choices and many other things. The purpose is to know the basic rules so that we may use them or even break them for our own advantage.

Just a small tip for now — Try to visualize letters as persons or living characters 🙂 Go ahead and see when you look at a certain alphabet in a certain font, what do you think is its personality.

Anyone has an interesting story about their typography journey? Please share 🙂