a blog to trace the pathway of students in his/iar552 at the university of north carolina at greensboro

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Hello everyone... I hate to say that I can't make it to class today. My allergies and/or cold has my entire face swollen up and flat out really gross. I'm running by the Health Center to see if something can be done to un-swell me. I just wanted to say good luck to those presenting today!

This class has been amazing, and I learned so much from the whole group. Thanks Patrick, everything was really awesome and thanks for all of the great inspiration!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Extra Post

Just wanted to post a little something extra... As I was driving home to my parents last night, in my sleepy little mountain town, I noticed that there was hardly any Helvetica font! I have to wonder if towns that aren't so "with the times" have less of this newer, cooler font? Just wondering...

Thursday, April 22, 2010


This documentary was so helpful in putting my cultural analysis into perspective. The history of Helvetica explored through its predecessors and successors told a complete story of the impact something like a type face can make.
Strong links to the few readings on marketing and its visual impact on the culture around it.
I appreciated seeing the framework used to explore the subcultures of type face and how differing opinions can be on the subject of analysis.
The ranges of extreme affection toward the object, Helvetica, to the extreme disdain of the object, even accusations of "causing the Vietnam War" evokes thoughts toward the effects media makes on society.
While this was a very dry film about an obscure subject I have come to realize the strong links to our framework and analytical practices.


I thought it was interesting they way that they suggested the influence of the font. I had never thought about it. I never thought about the font choice, as a historian, I like a box that has times new roman, which is familiar to me because of the books that I research from. It is a jump for me to use helvetica and notice the font that I use.
Ever since watching this film, I have been way more aware of the typeface and everywhere that it shows up. I have been taking all the signs in, and I have noticed that stores can italicise it, make it bigger, bolder, smaller, thinner, but they are still helvetica. In an age where we like individualization, we find comfort in being similar. Even with globalization, where choice defines everything, we like similarity. It is funny to me that even with the Macs and design technology available, we like the comfort of the font.


I thought, in my little black/white world, that it was really interesting to hear someone in the film say that "just because something is legible doesn't mean it communicates." In my notes this quote comes right after the statement "Postmodernism is a disease." Granted, I don't think this quote was necessarily meant the way I took it, but that's besides the point. Both of these are quite possibly two of my favorite moments in the film. I am working in a seriously gray area with my object, so I'm feeling withdrawal from my black/white comfort zone. That's really the only explanation I can find for being so totally overjoyed that someone else gets my frustration and confusion with Postmodernism. Sometimes, the simplest, cleanest, clearest way of communicating is the best because it ACTUALLY communicates to the majority of the people who read/hear/see it. I often felt the same way about literature; if the author wanted to make a point, why muddle it with incomprehensible babbling. Some of the postmodern fonts that were shown in the film seemed to make things more difficult to read than the pre-Helvetica fonts. Doesn't that negate the purpose of writing something? In an undergrad communications class, I was told that communication is receiver based. If the receiver of the communication doesn't understand it, then there is "a failure to communicate." If the font/design is too convoluted for the reader to understand, then there is no communication and the font/design has failed...right?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Ok, so since we watched this film, I have not been able to stop noticing the Helvetica type face. I had no idea how influential something as simple as a font could be. It made me wonder how many other things that I glaze over without paying enough attention to, or what other small things influence me without my direct knowledge.

As far as the film goes, I found it interesting. But in my opinion, it was a bit choppy and disjointed. Even though it was able the Helvetica font, a brief history on fonts and their influence in general would have been a bit more helpful in creating a larger cultural fabric to understand the huge influence of this new hip font.

To be perfectly honest, I don't love the Helvetica font. I think its great for certain things. The film helped me realize that yes, it is a comforting font for certain things like federal wording and signage, and sure, in the Subway I do feel like I know where I'm going after looking at the signs. But my personal opinion is that this supposed "sleek and new" font is almost lacking in personality. And maybe the modernity of it is a personality in itself, but I don't think it is the answer to "all things advertising".

The store American Apparel uses Helvetica as their font. Which I find interesting. The whole idea behind this store is to be unique and individualistic which is ironic because they sell an idea of mix-and-match fashion in a one-stop-shop store. For a store that desires to be one-of-a-kind and full of self-expression, they certainly use a plain type fact to express their brand. One could argue that because Helvetica is sleek and "classic" in its design, it appeals to all users and customers. Personally, I feel like a store that sells neon latex capris pants and tube socks may want to change things up a little.

Why do most designers think that this font is the end all be all?

"We are all prompted in subliminal ways"

I am going to just start off by saying I honestly had NO idea that there were people in the world who's job it was to design fonts. I mean it makes sense now of course but I guess I never really thought about it. Very, very interesting.

I don't even know where to begin about Helvetica. I actually enjoyed the documentary more than I thought I would. My question after watching it is does this typeface represent capitalism or socialism...because we all know it has to be one or the other!! (sarcasm) The title of my blog is a quote from the movie that I deemed important to write down...it was stated in reference to the secretive spell casted over the public by typeface. We have talked all semester about forms of media, and if I recall correctly, the first class we even discussed the text on the covers of our books...and what they might mean or why they were chosen. There was a divide in the movie about the expressiveness of the Helvetica font. One contributor stated that it was neutral and "shouldn't have a meaning in itself". Another said that just because helvetica is "legible doesn't mean it communicates". I guess after this class I believe everything communicates something...even if it's supposed to be neutral. I can wear a white polo shirt with khaki pants and sperry's and I KNOW that communicates something to someone who may see me.

The encoding/decoding article and the medium is the message all discuss these ideas and queries. We all chose our fonts for presentations on our preferences...doesn't that say something about us? I sure think it does. It was stated multiple times in the film that designers have responsibilities...I don't think they ever explicitly stated what those were...I would think designers have the responsibilty to do work as they deem appropriate. Isn't that the great thing about art? That artists have the free will to express themselves or specific subjects any way they feel? Isn't that the point of art?

Using this to segway into Leonardo Drew's exhibit that we visited. To many people...that may not seem like art or they may not get it. But it definitely speaks about our world...in many ways. his art is very structured, yet chaotic...isn't that how our world is? Can helvetica be both capitalist and socialist? or maybe even neither...

I don't know if I just got way too deep, but these are just some things I thought about after class...