Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fonts, again

Does it mean anything that the official font of the McCain campaign, Optima, is also used by the Stockhausen Verlag as their titling font? Optima, which is quite an elegant font, has acquired a certain 1960's aura, most prominently with its use on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington. On the other hand, Gotham, which has a 1930's/WPA poster/Port Authority feel, and was chosen for the base inscription of the new tower at the site of the World Trade Center, is the official Obama campaign typeface.* If a font can signal some information to the reader, then these choices are sending interesting and contrasting sets of historical signals: looking back at the future.

(A previous post on fonts is here.)

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* One of the strangest episodes of the campaign was an attempt by opponents to associate the Obama campaign's graphic style with that of Nazi Germany, demonstrating a lack of knowlege of history. (There is German graphic pedigree in the Obama style, but it's modern, Weimar, Bauhaus, Latin and sans-serif, filtered through Art Deco, streamline moderne, and realist styles.) In any case, it's the best-designed campaign I've ever seen.

3 comments:

Mary Jane Leach said...

I've been using Optima for years, and Carolina for titling. Guess there's a least one thing McCain is doing right. ;-)

Daniel Wolf said...

Mary Jane:

You've put an interesting reversal on the McCain/Stockhausen style sheet by using Optima but not as a titling font. Is Carolina anything like your own calligraphy style?

Mary Jane Leach said...

I started using these after my XI cd came out. I worked with a designer who was really into fonts, and we poured through lots of them. The optima flows really well for reading text, and the Carolina is an elegant font for titling - it looks a little calligraphic, much nicer than anything I ever did - I just love the way it looks. Having an "M" and "J" in my name, I always look for fonts that treat those letters well. If you want to see how Carolina looks - it's the font on my "Celestial Fires" cd, and I use it on the title pages of all of my scores, which I include on all of my complete scores on my web site.