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joeclark.org → Graphic and industrial design → Autonominal fonts
(Or skip to showings:
Set 1 • Set 2)
Typographers have spent decades dicking around with holoalphabetic sentences (that use all 26 letters, preferably in only 26 letters) for the preparation of typeface showings. Or else nonsense words (like Hamburgefons) are used.
Or, as is currently in vogue, and representing a practice derived from the earliest hot-metal specimen posters (of the sort I mail-ordered from Monotype as a kid), full-justified lines of copy illustrate the variants of a typeface. (The nouvelle formulation attempts to give us cheeky copy: “Rick Poynor ate my hamster,” that sort of thing. The Font Bureau loves this stuff.)
All well and good, if rather obsessif and reminiscent of trainspotting. But I submit that the names of musical groups can combine with the characteristics of a typeface to illustrate the idiosyncracies of the font.
This phenomenon hit me, as if epiphanously, many years ago when I noticed how fabulous the name Quad City DJs looked in Helvetica. Perhaps the example of that throwaway one-hit wonder band was not unique.
In the compilation below, I note how often the feel of the typeface matches the feel of the music the respective band actually produces, even though I went to great lengths to base my choices on visual characteristics, which you can glean through tooltips on each setting. But is this really surprising? Art is supposed to be unified, right?
Note to pedants
There was no effort to regularize font sizes, and renderings are occasionally poor (Eras especially; as with Optima, there is no such thing as too much resolution).
Clearly, “autonominal” is a malapropism; the fonts are not self-naming, as in writing the name of the font in the font, or even in the way that, say, the marketing materials for O Brother, Where Art Thou? actually used the typeface named Brothers. But like so many names of musical groups (what exactly are inspiral carpets?), the phrase autonominal fonts has a bit of magic.
I may add more samples. You’re invited to come up with your own.
|Face name||Band name|
|Set 2 (2001.08.05)|
|Set 1 (2001.07.16)|
|Cooper Black (everyone’s favourite)|
|Hobo (everyone else’s favourite)|
|Peignot (Mary Tyler Moore, take that!)|
|Souvenir (the most despised font of all, but an underappreciated gem)|