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13MarOff

{Book Review} Just my Type


Posted by Abbey on Mar 13, 2012

Ok, I am a little late to the party here, but nonetheless, what a party.

Andrew Garfield's Just my Type is as entertaining as this little guide is interesting as he takes the reader on a Whistlestop tour of fonts...

So do we really need another lesson in the world's growing obsession with fonts? My answer, having read this thorough this pocket guide of the printed word, is yes as this particular guide is a great balance between fact and a bit of cheeky humour.. from font revolutionaries to the money-motivated Johannes Gutenberg and the sexual libertarian Eric Gill, it's going to be really difficult to even look at a pot noodle in the same way again.

From the earliest handwriting-inspired printed letters to the birth of such big-hitters as Helvetica, Baskerville and Obama's campaign favourite Gotham, Just My Type is comprehensive enough to interest experts, with enough personal stories to hook the rest of us.

The "seismic shift" caused by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, after a college calligraphy course inspired him to install an unprecedented range of typefaces on the first Mac, is one such tale; another follows the Face designer Neville Brody and his typographical rule-breaking in the 1980s, designed to keep alive "a language of protest" and not forgetting our favourite Swedish stores controversial ditching of its elegant Futura for the wider, squatter Verdana in 2009. Which really is the main joy of the book: every trip outside your front door {and even inside your four walls} becomes an opportunity for assessing and appreciating letter design.

That typeface used for any movie branded "epic" (especially if it stars a semi-naked Russell Crowe)? That's Trajan. Jurassic Park and The Lion King share the same "tribal" Neuland Inline font and Cooper Black is what easyJet has in common with the Beach Boys. All of these fonts are condemned by Garfield, though none so much as the London 2012 Olympics font, which tops his {and most others} list of all-time worst offenders.

This book won't just turn readers into font-spotters; it also nudges them towards admiring the beauty of a single letter or a well-drawn ampersand {a collective sigh}.

Garfield's love and appreciation for good design, combined with his often lyrical and romantic prose, is infectious, and sometimes he writes as though the letters themselves were living things, which makes Just my Font both hugely entertaining as well as being informative.

I read this book in three days it is a total i-dont-want-to-put-down read, so what are you waiting for? As Lauren Laverne said 'Whether you're a graphics geek or have never given typeography a second thought, don't miss this quirky font fest.'

Enjoy.

AML xx

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