About Helvetica

To everyone who loves Helvetica, 

We could be infected with an infatuation for Helvetica. Or is it Helvetica that is to blame for our insistent behavior. Perhaps its perfection makes us feel guilty for all the times we’ve even glanced at another typeface.

Helvetica may be our bad Ex we want again and again. We see her, and no matter where she was or what she wore, she never looked terrible. Over and over, we are reminded of her and she never faded from our memory; "timeless!" We all declared!

But then unlike some of us, there are those other designers; a young group of deviants. They shout & scream "REDHEADS ARE AMAZING!" (As they salute to freckles; and albeit paid lost-coop for all their typefaces.) Are these miscreants such a bad thing?

I ask; why are we designing brands with Helvetica? Does it make sense that a brand be non-specific, neutral, faceless, and transferable? What about personality, character, and a wild story that can whip a person dead on the crotch? Leaving people with a memory they won't soon forget. Sure, Other-typefaces have their imperfections, but it's those little vulnerabilities that are charming when dressed properly. This will take time to master.

Helvetica is too perfect for the direction of design we are seeing these past few years. People now want humanity, not perfection. Unlike Helvetica, people are not born from necessity, order or efficiency. We mainly want happiness, and a chance to see design in a way we have not seen before.

Then years later we will want the opposite, like so many other trends. I could have just kept my mouth shut.

 

The Truth

I recently watched a lecture by Sarah Kay. Sarah is a crazy, gorgeous woman who teaches people across the United States about poetry and self-expression.

Poetry is not something I’ve ever been very invested in, so please don't test my knowledge, but Sarah tells an interesting story about truth. Sarah explains how everyone knows a truth. This truth could be anything as simple as what you ate for lunch or as complex as the meaning of life. She points out that how well anyone can express a truth, however, is going to be based on their level of understanding.

In the case of graphic design for instance, if your understanding of design is limited, the truth you express might sound like “It just doesn’t feel right” or “I need a website that says we’re a perogie company that cares about middle class families.”

We can't depend on clients to articulate into words what “does or doesn’t feel right” about a design, because their expertise is their business and not the design, but if you hear them out and ask the right questions, you will be able to make the connections between their understanding and yours to create an even better holistic design.

Take your clients opinion into thought before disregarding it as inexperience because their understanding of the design holds a small piece to the whole truth that you are trying to create from your own understanding.