In Bed with Neue Haas Grotesk

This morn­ing I was awake a lit­tle after 6 a.m. (It didn’t help that I slept until 5 p.m. the day before and then went back to bed around mid­night.)

But I didn’t want to get out­ta bed. The rest of the house wasn’t awake (Amy and the girls were out at Girl Scout Camp). So I would be bored with no activ­i­ty going on in the house.

So, I decid­ed to watch a movie in bed, but I wasn’t sure what. I had fall­en asleep to Jeff Dunham’s “Argu­ing with Myself” movie, so I fired that up and fin­ished what I missed. But, that only killed about 20 min­utes. So I decid­ed to watch a Doc­u­men­tary that I hadn’t got­ten around to watch: “Hel­veti­ca”.

Yes, you heard me…Helvetica. A doc­u­men­tary about a Typo­graph­ic leg­end.

I was very glad I watched it.

I was so glad, that I even post­ed on Face­book, com­ments about it:

You know your a Design geek when your actu­al­ly watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary about a font at 7am.

Being a “fontie”, I guess I’m not sur­prised that I am just engrossed in this movie called “Hel­veti­ca”

Ha! They pegged me! One guy just said: “my girl­friend remem­bers a place by what it’s near, I remem­ber a place by the font it used or how it has bad let­ter spac­ing” (I do that to Amy all the time: “ewww their using com­ic sans”)

Ha! The design­er who made one of the font I use for my free­lance busi­ness was in the movie…I like him! I picked a good type­face!! (Note: it was the design­er of the font ITC Offic­i­na, one of my favorites)

Who knew there were such argu­ments for and against Hel­veti­ca…

When I first became a design­er, I didn’t care for Hel­veti­ca. At that time (around the late 90’s), I was used to Apple hav­ing the default sys­tem font “Hel­veti­ca” and Microsoft hav­ing its bad­ly done knock-off “Ari­al”. (You see their dif­fer­ences here)

As I grew as a design­er a lit­tle, I learned that many design­ers over the years have used Hel­veti­ca for so many things that it was per­va­sive in our soci­ety. So why would I want to use it in my own cre­ative flair? It also wasn’t “my” type of font. Most sans serif fonts weren’t my cup of tea.

(Even now, I see both sides of the argu­ment for and against Hel­veti­ca. Its been used so much that soci­ety is so used to it, but it is such a per­fect­ly designed font, that its hard to cre­ate some­thing bet­ter.)

But it wasn’t until I worked at Alpha­Graph­ics with my dis­tant-broth­er-in-law Aaron (a great design­er) and lat­er my best-friend Kel­lie (anoth­er great design­er, writer, illus­tra­tor and pho­tog­ra­ph­er!) that I real­ly start­ed to appre­ci­ate the sim­plic­i­ty and read­abil­i­ty of Hel­veti­ca and oth­er Sans Serif fonts.

You see, we had so much work com­ing through that print shop, from so many dif­fer­ent “cough” design­ers, (a.k.a., sec­re­taries) that I was exposed to so many “bad” dime-a-dozen fonts out there. When a design piece that came in that was designed by a “real” design­er, or a client let Aaron or Kel­lie “go to town” for a print job, that was when I got to expe­ri­ence real Typog­ra­phy. And it was beau­ti­ful.

I trea­sure the time I was able to spend with Aaron and Kel­lie learn­ing the craft. I like to think of it as my own appren­tice­ship. That time cement­ed my deci­sion to become a design­er.

Years lat­er here I am in school doing just that. Cement­ing myself with a full on degree say­ing I know what I already know.

But watch­ing this movie not only made me real­ize what a great font hel­veti­ca is, but I real­ized some­thing else…I still have a lot to learn.

I see these oth­er design­ers, and their talk of mod­ernism and futur­ism, and even thought I just stud­ied those last year. I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about them and can recall only smidges of how they affect­ed the art world.

I look at some of these design­ers (and oth­er designers/photographers I know; like Aaron, Kel­lie, Jim, Saun­dra, Brett and so many oth­ers) and I think to myself, “Will I ever be that good?” “Where do I start to gain skills like that?” “How would I ever come up with such a fan­tas­tic design like that!?”

For the ease of online class­es (I wouldn’t be able to real­ly go to col­lege with­out doing them 100% online), I start to won­der if I am real­ly ben­e­fit­ing from them. Class­es are only 5.5 weeks long, instead of an entire semes­ter. Am I real­ly learn­ing what I need to know in that short time?

I’m thank­ful that I decid­ed to not sell back my school books, so that I can go back and re-read what I missed, but is that enough? Should I be doing more, and if so, where do I start? I can think of Net­work­ing with more design­ers, read­ing more, expos­ing myself to more cul­ture (I don’t get near­ly as much as I should)…but what else?

I look back and I look for­ward and I still have a lot to learn, and a long, long way to go. But I am ready to learn, and I look for­ward to it.

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One Response to In Bed with Neue Haas Grotesk

  1. Aaron says:

    Bert… every­thing I learned in col­lege pre­pared me to only relearn it cor­rect­ly in the real world. School offered expo­sure to what was to come, but only small bits and pieces of what I took from school made me who I am today. Absorb every­thing while you are there, but dont be afraid to ques­tion ‘author­i­ty’. You will look back in 10 years and you will say “Holy Shit! that noob instruc­tor was on crack. Why did she tell me to save my pho­to­shop files as pict?” You too will real­ize, the real learn­ing is done in the real world.

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