Early in his episode of Abstract, the Netflix series about design, Jonathan Hoefler describes the act of type design as a sleight of hand. It’s the job of typographers like himself, he explains, to pay attention to the details that no else notices or knows to care about. There are all sorts of things to consider: counters, overshoots, anisotropic contrast, that “diabolical S.”
Type design is indeed a dark and confusing art to anyone outside of the niche field, which makes Hoefler an intriguing designer for the mass-consumer Abstract to profile. Throughout the episode, Hoefler successfully reminds viewers that typography is everywhere, and that it takes a lot of effort (and a not-insignificant amount of neurotic attention to detail) to make sure the words you’re reading on this very screen don’t scar your eyeballs with unbalanced shapes and mismatched stroke widths.
We’ll admit that the Eye on Design team is about as targeted an audience you can get for a 45 minute show about type design, but we’re also aware that we’re probably in the minority. It made us wonder, does the average person care about type design? More importantly, do they get it? Answering those burning questions required that we poll a group of people whose knowledge of typography extends primarily to their offsprings’ perplexing interest in it: our parents.
As a fun experiment, we—the five editors at Eye on Design—asked our parents to watch Hoefler’s Abstract episode and jot down their musings. No question too simple or silly. It turns out, they had lots of thoughts about type design, too. You can read them below.
QUESTIONS OUR PARENTS ASKED:
- Do we all do typeface design with our doodles?
- Are there fashions in typeface?
- Who’s Michael Bierut? Is he the guy that was naked?
- Can a bad typeface put him in a bad mood?
- What does it mean to be a type nerd?
- Has the internet ruined typography or is it the ultimate culmination of it?
- ☞ Manicules?
- Is spacing important for creating a typeface?
- Is there such a thing as a sexy typeface or are all typefaces sexy?
- How many books do you think this guy has?
- Do you think he knows where all his books are?
- What is the feeling like to discover a new letter or number design?
- Can he ever stop thinking about type?
- Do italics disturb him?
- What influence does a typeface have on a business?
- How are typeface creators compensated?
- How do you love a logo?
- Is he making it look like a lot more work than it really is? Bet he charges a lot.
- Do you think he learned drawing?
- Does this sensitivity to letters take over his life?
- How much do puns influence him?
- If he spoke a different language would that mean his style would be different?
- How important is it that there are so many different typefaces?
- Does he dream of typography?
- Is he sad that the majority of people take letters and typography for granted?
- What ultimately is he searching for?