Monday, May 25, 2009

The Physicality Phenomenon

Steven Heller has a nice prediction in the NYT Magazine here. He argues, "Hand lettering is seen as a means to distinguish expressive from non-expressive messages," later continuing, "The hand offers a more human dimension and individual personality. Of course, this will inevitably change. A popular design trope will be copied until it is overused and we’re sick to death of it."

I see it as being less of an inevitable design trend/ flash-in-the-pan phenomenon, because humans are always going to be playing around with how letter forms look in their own handwriting. Yeah, sure, maybe hand lettering on book covers and film opening sequences will become less exciting at some point, but just in the same way that Helvetica will always be around for function and clean lines, so, too will hand lettering continue to serve a purpose for expression, intimacy, silliness, and distinctiveness.

The connection can (and should) be made to the rise of handmade and hand-crafted works throughout our culture in the past five years or so. Hand lettering is intimately linked to other forms of creative expression manifested in a uniquely physical form, like letterpress printmaking, DIY, and Etsy. I also have been arguing for a while now that farming, vegetarian cooking, and organics are all linked to this social phenomenon of physicality as well. (NYT article about more and more college students seeking out organic farming summer internships).

Designboom has a great article/ compilation of the "decidedly low-tech" trend here.

Heller's blog for Print magazine is here. John Gray, who is a really cool graphic designer (book covers, oooh!) did the cover for Extremely Loud, Everything is Illuminated, and many others you'll probably recognize. His website, Gray318, is here.

I also like to peruse Oatmeal & Cinnamon's blog about hand-lettering.

No comments:

Post a Comment