Posts Tagged ‘typography’

How Good is Free?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

What is the value of creative work? It’s an interesting point of discussion. Jessica Hische and Jon Tan spoke at Creative Mornings Vancouver last Friday and pondered it out loud. It is a subject Jessica has written about to great renown in her blog post On Getting Paid, The Dark Art of Pricing.

There are so many opportunities to pay little or no money for design on the internet. I would equate it to getting a great deal on a gross of chlorine pucks — but you don’t own a pool. Great deal. Not useful. You can buy a logo for $99. It might make you happy, but it’s not going to help your business that much. But, hey…it was $99! If your business is just like all of your competitors’ businesses, you can just slap up your shingle with your $99 logo and let the chips fall where they may. Doesn’t make much difference. But, if you believe your business is truly unique — that you have some competitive advantage — then your logo should reflect that. It should reflect your pride and it shouldn’t just be a picture of what you do, but a representation of your passion in doing it. When you hire a professional designer to work with, you generally get someone with a whole lot of training who asks a lot of questions rather than doing whatever you ask them to do. That’s because they are good at what they do and they respect that you are good at what you do.

Serious businesses get this. They do pay properly for design because they know how valuable it is in building their brand equity. Not all serious businesses are big businesses either. They’re just businesses in it for the long haul.

Another issue with free stuff is sustainability, and this came up in Jessica and Jon’s talk with respect to buying typefaces — or not buying them, as is often the case. A well-designed typeface takes 12-18 months to be drawn, expanded to different weights and point sizes, etc. And this process is carried out by a designer who has 4-6 years of specialized schooling. The professional type design community is small. There are no faceless multinationals making nauseating piles of money on typefaces. So, if you’re not paying anyone for it, then the designer is working for free.

Now, I didn’t go into design because I was a talent with numbers, but I’m pretty sure you can’t get by very long without an income. So, if you don’t make money at what you’re doing, you won’t be able to continue to do it. So, that means fewer type designers, fewer decent typefaces, etc. For the $25 - $150 the majority of typefaces cost, they’re often a bargain at twice the price. Not quite free, but really, really good. When you pay for typefaces, you’re supporting the ongoing development of type for the future. You’re respecting the person who makes this their life’s work. And you’re respecting your own profession by supporting others within it.

Don’t undercut. Don’t work for free. Remember that what you do has value and respect the same in others.

Pax Vobiscum

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Forgive me while I lead into this with my meandering thinking process and how I ended up on typography and semiotics.

It was the Ides of March yesterday. That led me to the coup on Caesar and his often quoted last words “Et tu, Brute?”. I drifted further to Latin and how much I remembered from the more cloistered days, before Pope Paul VI changed so much about the Catholic Church, including using Latin in Mass. Then I started seeing the words in type and realized how tightly correlated certain things are with certain typefaces. Are you still with me?

I had to get out of bed before dawn to set the Latin phrase, Pax Vobiscum or “Peace be with you”, in a couple of typefaces I thought were what I remembered and then threw in one I knew was wrong, just to see it in comparison.

I’ll leave it to you to decide which one you think looks more like the Catholic Missal, if you even know what that was (our little books we carried to Church every Sunday — and for many of us every day — that had the words to every Mass and its readings).

My drift here is that there are collective memories about things like type, a vox populi, if you will. Those memories contribute to the semiotics of type. If you look at the examples above — all serif typefaces — you can see very clear differences and, if you are part of the collective Catholic consciousness, or perhaps even other Christian faiths, only one or two of these actually look right.

And, while I’m at it, you should note that they are all set in 60 point type. Yep, they’re all the same size. So if you ever decide to tell your designer that they MUST use a certain point size because some hack told you that things must always be set in a certain size, think again. It depends on the typeface. And the typeface always tells a story.

Pax vobiscum.

Casey Hrynkow is a partner in Herrainco Brand Strategy+ Design Inc. a design firm based in Vancouver British Columbia

Typography for all (not just for lawyers)

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Here is a great link on typography basics. Not just the technical but, even more importantly, the semiotics of typography. Very useful.