Last night I went out to see “Helvetica“, a film about the font we all know so well. One of the art directors who spoke said Helvetica was like off-white paint… it’s just there. It’s permeated our entire culture and life. It’s like air or breathing. You can’t get away from it. Helvetica. And I thought that was so true.
I found the film really inspiring. The film maker did a great job interviewing different designers on both sides of the Helvetica fence: those who loved it (the only font they used) and those who refused to use it because it wasn’t expressive enough for them. And it showed a ton of examples of the font in action, which I guess I’ve never really thought about before. But the font can do so much. It’s a hard-working little font.
The history behind Helvetica as a font was fascinating too. It’s celebrating it’s 50th birthday, which is why the film was created. But it was born in Switzerland, and the name Helvetica actually means: Swiss font. Brought about because designers wanted something universal and clean and upstanding and socially responsible after all the wiggly, hand-written design of the 50′s. Helvetica was positive and no-nonsense. A refreshing look at things.
I’m sure I’m not doing the film justice, so if you have a chance, see it for yourself. You just might be inspired to ditch all your other fonts and have a wonderful, long-lasting monogamous relationship with Helvetica. (or not).