4102 - Contemporary and Historical References
Why is Typography important to setting the right mood on a piece?
This essay will discuss the power of typography and how typefaces can set a mood in a design. It will be focused around a poster (fig. 1) that is one in a series designed for the New York Lottery in 2012, which was called The Holiday Magic Campaign. It will progress onto the artists’ thoughts and intentions with this piece. Next there will be an in-depth description and analysis, as well as a discussion on the feelings that the poster evokes. My own and other people’s opinions are included after that and then it examines how changing the font could completely alter the mood of this poster. This will be demonstrated by comparing and contrasting different fonts and the effect they have on their viewer. The subject of how the type of font chosen is so important will be discussed next and then it will go onto illustrating how vital it is in design to set the right mood.
The designers of the collection are free-lance typographer, Sean Freeman and former Design Director of DDB NY, Juan Carlos Pagan. Freeman and Pagan’s intention was to create a simple, but striking poster campaign. They knew that the typography needed to be unique and special to make it desirable and eye-catching. They particularly loved bright and colourful Christmas lights. Freeman was hired to carefully create each character using the lights, to photograph them and arrange the letters in elegant headlines. The posters could be seen all over New York City strategically placed in bus shelters in such places as Madison Ave, Broadway and 34th Street (Fig. 2) capturing the holiday spirit and spreading Christmas cheer to anyone who saw them.
The poster shows the phrase ‘Light Up Someone’s Holiday’ in a sans serif, vintage, calligraphy styled font. This really reminds me of a sign of an American diner (fig. 3), subtly hinting at its US origin and its idea that you can live the ‘American Dream’ by winning the lottery. The letters themselves are made up from strings of multi-coloured, Christmas lights, swirling around the text extending from the tails and stem of the L, G and Y of the phrase. The swirling suggests a sense of expression and freedom and ongoing happiness, which would arise from winning the lottery. Glints of light brighten up the page, there is a desirable nature to these sparkles and beauty of light in the nights sky. It brings back memories and the thought of an ideal Christmas with extra money to splash on presents. Purple light glows around the text on a black background; this glow draws the viewer in and makes them look closer.
A report on the campaign from Adweek, said that “DDB was bringing some remarkably intricate holiday cheer to that most moribund of public spaces—the lonely New York City bus shelter. Five bus shelters in NYC felt like they themselves won the lottery, as they were festooned with holiday light installations” said Tim Nudd, the reporter (Nudd T. : 2012). I agree with this sentiment as when looking at the posters it conjures up a Christmas atmosphere in my mind and brings back memories of driving past houses bursting with light and colour, or sometimes just seeing a single tree festooned in someone’s front window. The script font used is in a refined and perfectly formed style and, by ensuring that each coloured light is precisely positioned and captured in the right way. The designers have portrayed a sense of achieving your best Christmas ever – they are trying to make people believe that winning the lottery would make your holiday perfect. Even though money is not always the key to happiness, this is the message that NY lottery would want to get across.
The font dictates the mood of the piece. Look at the poster (fig.4), if you swapped it with this font (fig. 5) does it change the mood? Does it become sinister and take on a whole new meaning? For instance, a nightmare-ish Christmas rather than a happy, jolly one. Canadian blogger Mike Battista, who blogs at phronk.com, thinks that font does not matter. He says the average person does not notice detail (BBC : 2010), but to some the font is really important. Understanding that, if you were reading a document it does not really matter what font is chosen to most people, as long as it is legible. However, when it comes to typographic art, a font can subliminally hint at the message behind the words and it is essential to portray the right mood. For example the font used in this illustration by Matthew Tapia (Fig. 6) suggests lace and femininity. The font is just as important as all of the elements in a piece such as the colour, words and format.
This essay has illustrated how strongly I feel about the importance of typography, and how getting it right is so vital to a graphic designer or anyone who is considering creating any poster, document or leaflet, etc. The designers’ intentions, an in-depth description, opinions from myself and others and comparing and contrasting views and ideas, have been talked about within this essay. However, there is a lot more to be researched into within this subject, especially the idea that text is not just data, each figure is a representation of words and numbers. Which is expressed in depth, in an article called ‘Typographic Meaning’. A quote that would be worth perusing from it is; “Bellantoni and Woolman have written that the printed word has two levels of meaning, the ‘word image’, the idea represented by the word itself, constructed from a string of letters and the ‘typographic image’, the ‘holistic visual impression’ (Bellantoni, J. and Woolman, M. : 2000)” (Van Leeuwen, T. : 2005). This suggests that a word is not just about it is the information it represents it is also about its visual depiction and the feeling it evokes.
The hope is that this essay has explored the importance of choosing the right typeface and the impact it can have on a piece. As shown in these examples below (Fig 7. & 8.), which again illustrates how powerful font can be.
Alex, F. (2014) Drawing Type, An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms. Beverly, Massachusetts, Rockport Publishers
Altsys (1997) AR Herman Font. Available at: http://www.azfonts.net/load_font/herman.html [01/04/14]
Bartolucci, T. (2012) New York Lottery, Making-of Holiday Magic Light Type Available at: http://www.tony-bartolucci.com/project/making-of-holiday-magic-light-type/16 [10/03/14]
BBC (2010) Do Typefaces really matter? Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10689931 [18/03/14]
Behance (2013) New York Lottery - Holidays Campaign. Available at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/NEW-YORK-LOTTERY-Holidays-Campaign/9718077 [01/04/14]
Bellantoni, J. & Woolman, M. (2000) Type in Motion - Innovations in Digital Graphics. London, Thames & Hudson.
Blambot (2007) You Murderer BB Font. Available at: http://www.fontspace.com/blambot/youmurderer-bb [18/03/14]
Freeman, S. & Pagan, J. C. (2012) Light Up Someone’s Holiday [Poster]. 1200mm x 1800mm (40.24” x 70.87”)
Freeman, S. (2012) New York Lottery, Christmas Campaign. Available at: http://thereis.co.uk/type-showcase/new-york-lottery/ [10/03/14]
Pagan, J. C. (2012) New York Lottery Holiday 2012 http://www.carlospagan.com/portfolio/new-york-lottery-holiday-2012/46#2 [10/03/14]
Pagan, J. C. (2012) New York Lottery Holiday 2012 http://www.carlospagan.com/portfolio/new-york-lottery-holiday-2012/46 [10/03/14]
Sinister Fonts (2005) Zombie Holocaust Font. Available at: http://www.fontspace.com/sinister-fonts/zombie-holocaust [01/04/14]
Stephanie, P. (2009) Rosebud Diner Vintage Somerville Neon Sign. Available at: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/79242268/rosebud-diner-vintage-somerville-neon [18/03/14]
Tapia, M. (2013) Lingerie. [Illustration] Available at: http://instagram.com/p/YLcfMxDm06/ [20/03/14]
Typostrate (2013) Typostrate Video Wednesday 10. Available at: http://www.networkedblogs.com/QMaul [20/04/14]
Van Leeuwen, T. (2005) Typographic Meaning. Visual Communication, vol. 4, no. 2, pp.137-143