Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Font Geek (Part One of "Designing A Season of Show Posters")

In case you didn't already know, I love fonts. Each year, that's where I begin when designing posters for the Parkway Playhouse Mainstage Season. I research the themes, content and mood of each play and then look for a font that in some ways corresponds. It matters to me because I think it matters, subconsciously, to the viewer to--whether it registers with them or not.

I frequently go to dafont.com and scroll through their endless possibilities. What I like about that site is that I'm able to put sample text into a field and then view how the title would look in each particular font. If you haven't ever done this, set aside a good chunk of time and then wave goodbye to it. The nice thing for me is I justify this addiction because it is for a client. (Yay!)

Left up to my own devices, I don't think I'd ever be able to decide. However, the powers that be at Parkway put in the final word...weeding through my 4-5 suggestions for each play. I may be accused lobbing pretty hard for some, though. It makes me sad when of my favorites simply don't work to catch the eye and I must compromise for attention-grabbing boldness. (Someday, Arkwright, someday, you will be perfect for a project.) Each font for its own purpose.

So, here are the font winners for the 2015 season....

"Arcadia" is actually written in two fonts, as the swirly font (Dutch & Harley) doesn't have a capital A. But, as the play deals with the overhaul of a formal English garden into something that will appear wild and ruinous, while still being utterly planned -- the swirly organic nature of it fits well.

"RED" may appear very basic, but large fonts like that really pop, especially when the title is so short. Additionally, I can play with the texture of the text -- which I've done with both Arcadia and RED in the show posters. (Another post for another day. Stay tuned.)

"All Shook Up" obviously needed a 1950s font as the entire musical is Elvis tunes. Oh, there are so many beautiful 1950s fonts... I think I downloaded a half dozen during the search.

"Esley" presented a unique problem. The title is quite long, but if I went with a small font size, it wouldn't garner any attention on a poster. Besides, it'd make that title disproportionately small on a season poster or playbill cover. That would throw the balance off and it wouldn't be fair to the play itself. During all of my font-searching, I'd found FFF Tusj and was looking for any excuse to use it. It doesn't work small, so I had to find a similar looking font for the subtitle. The combination of two different fonts and the varying sizes was both eye-catching and striking enough to do the trick. Frankly, it's my hands-down favorite.

Of course, I love the clever Q on "The Quiltmaker," but I don't want to be accused of spoiling any plot points. (Too late. Forgive me.) Also, with "The Glass Menagerie" I struggled to settle on a font bold enough, elegant, yet narrow enough to fit in a comparable length with the others. Nueva Std Bold Italic would do just fine.

All in all, I am pleased with how they each look and how they look together. Not that I expect anyone will even give it a second thought-- unless, you're a font geek like me! In which case, what are your current favorite free fonts?


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Austin Kaufmann said...

Oh, how is that we geek out over the same things so often, Britt? I can kill hours at dafont.com or 1001fonts.com without so much as blinking.

And, oddly enough, I've also downloaded but never used Arkwright.

A recent fave (which I just settled on for my band's logo) is the font Daddy Longlegs. Here's our logo with it: https://www.facebook.com/TheDanglingParticiples