5 November, 2012
Good Fonts, Bad Fonts, and the Presidency
Somehow we’ve let the election season come to a close without thanking both parties for making this an All-H&FJ election. Continuing the signature voice of its 2008 campaign, Obama for America kept Gotham as its typographic keystone, this year adding our Sentinel typeface as a companion slab serif. The GOP chose fonts from H&FJ as well, the Romney campaign settling on Mercury for its serif and Whitney for its sans.
We’d especially like to thank the teams at Obama for America and Blue State Digital for making us a part of their outstanding work on Barackobama.com. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed that webfonts from H&FJ made their first appearance on that site earlier this year, an especially meaningful milestone for all of us. It’s not often that your first beta tester is the President of the United States.
If the coming days bring a bitter electoral challenge, or the next four years bring the nation continuing deadlock on Capitol Hill, Americans will know exactly who to blame: typeface designers. According to this study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, bad typography may be useful in softening the stance of the politically extreme. The theory is that awkward or uncomfortable typography disrupts a reader’s “confirmation bias,” one’s tendency to only see things that are agreeable. What amateur typography might do for a candidate’s credibility is anyone’s guess, and whether the study’s choice of Times Bold really counts as an acceptable control for “good typography” remains an open question. But I look forward to the 2016 election, in which the honorable grunge candidate will face off against his esteemed colleague using Comic Sans. —JH
5 June, 2012
IDLEWILD: A New Font Family from H&FJ
Type designers are plagued by visions, recurring images which can only be exorcized by turning them into letters. For years we’ve been consumed by a particular quality of curve, overstuffed at the corners and punctuated by sharp edges, and gradually over time we’ve been able to give these apparitions form: first as unrelated characters, later as an alphabet, and finally as a family of fonts.
As these designs developed, we recognized them as something we’d often reached for in vain. There was a vacancy we’d noticed in the typographic spectrum, for a sleek sans serif that’s not only spare, determined, and tranquil, but satisfying. Not just gratifying, like an indulgent dessert or an extravagant gift, but viscerally satisfying, like a precision tool whose form both invites the touch and rewards the hand.
Today we’re very pleased to introduce Idlewild, this new font family in five weights. For all its distinctiveness and personality, Idlewild delivers an unexpected dividend: it accessorizes with other fonts amazingly well. Idlewild can be approachable, earnest, bright, or cultivated — read on to see how this wide font can yield a wide range of moods.
29 August, 2011
In Today’s Mail
17 August, 2011
Hoefler & Frere-Jones on PBS
Off Book is a series from PBS Arts dedicated to documenting the creative process, and expanding the definition of art. Produced by New York filmmakers Kornhaber Brown, the series premiered with an exploration of “light painting”, and the intention to explore a new artistic genre every episode. Episode two focusses on typography, with H&FJ representing the sub-sub-sub-genre of typeface design. Pentagram partners Paula Scher and Eddie Opara discuss their unique perspectives on typographic identity (in both senses of the word), and designers Julia Vakser and Deroy Peraza of Hyperakt discuss the range and reach of data visualization, a genre unto itself. And kudos to Kornhaber Brown for wrapping up with the one-minute segment, “How to talk about type like you know what you're talking about.” Required pre-holiday watching for our families. —JH