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.

This entry was posted in Design, Movies, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *