Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Described by H&FJ as having "an honest tone that's assertive but never imposing, friendly but never folksy, confident but never aloof," Gotham is the typeface I'd like to be.

Introduced in 2000 and designed by Tobias Frere-Jones, Gotham's creation was inspired by New York City signage from the 1930s-60s when letterforms were put together out of necessity and not as a conscious art form. Most notably, the typeface was used by President Obama during the majority of his 2008 campaign for office.

It was a good choice. Distinctly American, the International Herald-Tribune called the selection a "combination of contemporary sophistication with nostalgia for America's past and a sense of duty." It was solid but not staid.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, identified with New Baskerville, a British typeface originally designed in 1762 and one connected with book publishers, law firms, and universities. It was studied like she was. And John McCain, a war veteran, selected Optima, the German typeface featured on Washington, D.C.'s Vietnam Memorial.

Well, this is an old topic, and many articles have been written about the Obama brand and how successful it was, but the point I'm making is that when you chose a typeface to represent your identity, it can be a very personal and far-reaching thing. So, what type would you like to be?


Vacant Lot Design said...

In my youth I was Gill Sans, in my 20s I was Helvetica Neue, but now I would like to be Tungsten.

“Smart, tough, and sexy, Tungsten is that rarest of species: the compact and sporty sans serif that’s not only muscular but stylish. Four styles, each of them disarming instead of pushy — not just loud, but persuasive.

“...more Steve McQueen than Steven Seagal...

“...whiskey highball, not a martini...”

polka dot said...

Fascinating question, Leslie. I came here because I loved your comment on my blog - I'm mentioning you and linking you in my rather long winded post today - and - HA!! - I was just about to write Gil Sans, and I see the first comment has just said that.

I campaigned like mad for Obama here in London - I actually did a lot their graphics, once I got on board (some was already done - I re-did things), in keeping with the branding in the states. I didn't think about it being Gotham, or the definition being 'honest'. That's brilliant.

You summed up the difference for me in both Democratic candidates. I remember thinking, too, that poor Hil's branding needed a re-think.

Ooh now I've got to check out Tungsten. I'm linking you asap. Hope to hear from you again.