As Jonathan Hoefler recently told the New York Times, “Typography passes for being invisible. People really don’t think about the fact that typefaces are indeed made by people.” But this week on Twitter, a bunch of people who don’t usually think that much about typefaces started thinking about them. A lot. And they started thinking about the people who make them, too.
It began quite strangely. First, for reasons still mysterious to the Eye on Design editors, #TimesNewRoman was trending (more on this later). Then, the aforementioned NYT article began bemusing Twitter users far and wide in its attempt to paint a picture of a monthly TypeThursday meet-up. People just couldn’t believe how much this bunch of New York type designers interviewed, including Paul Shaw, Mirko Velimirovic, and Juan Villanueva of Monotype, cared about typefaces.
“They hold forth about negative space, consistent strokes and serif experimentation. The group’s website bills the gathering as ‘three hours of fontastic fun.’”
These People Really Care About Fonts – The New York Times https://t.co/zkibfLwRqz
— Editor Mary 🐝 (@EditorMary) January 28, 2020
Type Twitter had a few things to say about the article. First of all, they called out the blatant error in the headline.
THEY’RE CALLED *TYPEFACES*https://t.co/Pez3D6NXrs
— Fredrik Matheson (@movito) January 26, 2020
Next, they began pointing to a second mistake (one quickly amended by the editors). It was a mistake you could only really make if you didn’t actually care about typefaces.
— Modern Parlance (@modern_parlance) January 26, 2020
Soon, on a more serious note, the most disappointing error of all was called out: The fact that not a single woman from New York’s type scene, or the TypeThursday meet-up, was interviewed for the piece.
I do, but I’m a woman, so
— Elizabeth CareySmith (@theoriginalecs) January 25, 2020
All these quoted people are men and really care about fonts 😔 https://t.co/WSGORihvMh
— Alphabettes (@alphabettes_org) January 24, 2020
Interviewees, as well as those contacted by the article’s writer, began revealing some of the behind-the-scenes conversations that had taken place.
The writer reached out to me—met with him briefly at a TT event, he asked if he could set aside time later to talk to me and never followed up ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
— Kara Gordon (@kayessgordon) January 26, 2020
It’s embarrassing. Believe it or not, I preconditioned my participation with this journalist on the promise of equitable representation of the diversity of our community. I guess I should have got it in writing. I have expressed my disappointment to him, and I am sorry.
— Matthew Rechs (@MrEchs) January 25, 2020
And the growing threads sparked commentary about the media’s blinkered interest in type design more generally.
This is a subtweet pic.twitter.com/HfvX5XQAwH
— Tanya George (@tanyatypes) January 25, 2020
However, mainstream media outlets were treated to a taste of type design fervor when none other than #TimesNewRoman was spotted trending on Twitter. It started with an innocent call to overshare—that over 4,000 people answered in earnest.
Please reveal the deepest part of yourself: Which font and which size do you write in?
— Séan Richardson (@Southldntabby) January 26, 2020
The 91-year-old typeface enjoyed its 15 minutes of viral fame when a slew of commenters came out in proud support of its classic, legible, time-honored design features.
12 pt times new roman there is no other answer
— Hannah Voss (@hm_voss) January 27, 2020
And it stumped just as many others.
i saw times new roman trending and nearly shit my pants thinking something happened to a font
— lee 🤠 (@MADMAXONFILM) January 28, 2020
And finally, some official U.S.A. design news from the highest office in the land—the official unveiling of a federal logo, in all of its esteemed, ceremonial flair. JK, it was a tweet:
After consultation with our Great Military Leaders, designers, and others, I am pleased to present the new logo for the United States Space Force, the Sixth Branch of our Magnificent Military! pic.twitter.com/TC8pT4yHFT
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2020
It’s the logo for Trump’s Space Force, the latest branch of the Magnificent Military.
Thanks for the great presentation, you’ve given us a lot to think about pic.twitter.com/JrQY7YCLqm
— Michael Bierut (@michaelbierut) January 24, 2020
But boy does it look like familiar.
Ahem. We are expecting some royalties from this… https://t.co/msYcJMlqjh
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 24, 2020
Anyway, designers had fun with it.
Dr. James Fletcher: “And this color, red, it doesn’t make much sense to me.” George Low: “What would be better?” Fletcher: “Blue makes more sense … Space is blue.” Low: “No, Dr. Fletcher, space is black!”
— Hamish Smyth (@hamishsmyth) January 24, 2020
— Marvin Forte (@marvinforte) January 25, 2020
And with that, we’ll leave you with a quick PSA to our freelance friends out there: it’s tax season—be prepared:
when you send 53 invoices in 2019 and get three 1099s back pic.twitter.com/Lz8K1e9ebg
— Erik Carter (@erikinternet) January 27, 2020