I recently read the book Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman as part of our 2016 Reading Challenge. I read it for the category "Book about Art" but it could have very easily qualified for the "Book about Psychology". It is a fun book with lots of great graphics, charts, and activities. It is not targeted at professional designers, but the common "type consumer", which includes all of us (even professionals). As a font nerd, font snob, type lover or whatever else you want to call me, I enjoyed the book. However, if you could care less about fonts, or have ever wondered what the big deal about fonts is, this book just might show you that you care more about them than you think. Either way, you will get to eat jelly beans, so win-win!
Here are a few parts of the book that got me thinking --->
When I teach my elementary graphic design lesson on typography, I talk about how fonts are like people, with names, families, unique shapes, sizes and personalities. This book gave me so many great ideas for activities that I could do in my class. I especially loved the type designing activity based on different styles of songs. I will definitely be incorporating it in my next class and will be sure to let you know how it goes.
The Ethics of Typography
This is part of a larger debate on overall marketing tactics, but Hyndman brings up an interesting point that different fonts do suggest certain things about a product which may or may not be true. There are regulations concerning the wording and photography in advertising, but fonts can equally suggest a false claim without any consequence. She will spend a good portion of the rest of the book documenting the associations we have with certain fonts. As I compared the associations that we make with colors, I found it interesting that colors take on different meanings depending on their context and usage, but fonts are much more singular in their personalities.
Designer vs. Consumer
Designers are known to get caught up in a design bubble, and it is always good for us to get feedback from non-designers. What we may have thought was a clever use of contrast, color, negative space, etc. might be hard our audience to interpret. The same is true for typography. We may tend to associate some fonts with their historical background, while non-designers might view them much differently, and more accurately to common public perception. Sometimes we need a humble reality check :)
This was definitely an area of typography that I had never considered. Hyndman offers research to show that the type of fonts used on food packaging can have a placebo affect on how we taste food. While I didn't taste a noticeable difference during the jelly bean experiment, I think I was just overthinking and was too aware of the results that I was supposed to see. It would be a lot of fun to do these in person, at one of her type tasting events. At the end of the book, she suggests that this placebo affect could possibly be used for good, by allowing companies to reduce sugar and fat in their products and replace it with a good use of typography that would induce this placebo affect on our taste buds. Who knows, typography might just save the world after all!
You can check out more about the books and type research at www.typetasting.com.
Luke and I are married and have five little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, homeschooling and graphic design.
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