August 17, 2007

Highway Typography

"Now, as the idea of branding has claimed a central role in American life, so, too, has the importance and understanding of type. Fonts are image, and image is modern America." Zing!

[all photos in this post are from nytimes.com]

Yesterday I went to visit ProWolfe, to start familiarizing myself with St. Louis design. When I walked in, Mr. Wolfe kindly handed me a copy of this New York Times article on highway sign typography. A present, for me? Why thank you, Mr. Wolfe!

Clearview (a typeface) is taking over the signage in many states, replacing Highway Gothic, which has been used for half a century.

It's amazing the way subtle (and not-so-subtle) typographic changes can affect everyone – without them even realizing why. The article gives an in-depth explanation (and pictures!) of why Clearview is so clear. For example, Clearview has larger counters (the space inside of the letters - like the inside of the letters a & o).

It also explains the process and method to Don Meeker's madness in developing easier to read signage, including placing two signs side-by-side on his living room couch, in a dark room, and squinting while quickly flashing a light at them. Can't ya just picture it?

The whole article is interesting to me, but if you find yourself not wanting to read it all, at least take a peek at the slide show.


By the way, the last line of the article is my favorite.

[And I'm off to Arizona for a week! I may or may not be posting on my adventures there... I am definitely not taking my computer. Later gators.]