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Photo: Jon Gorospe
The hunt for the perfect font
It took Frode Konstantin Helland seven years to design Mu, his new font. He recently put the writing on the wall, asking the audience for help with the final touches.

Picture this: you’re a bookworm tanning at the beach. And to save you from the boredom of doing nothing but sweating and acquiring skin cancer, you grab the book in your backpack for some easy entertainment. You can’t wait to bid your real world problems farewell and get into fictional characters’ problems in stead. You open the first page…and the entire book is printed in Comic Sans.

You know, the playful font used for invitations for children’s parties. You’ll probably  never experience this unless you’re into super ironic literature trying to annoy the reader by using an annoying font. But it begs the question:

Did you ever reflect about the font used in the books you read?

Probably not. The reason is that book designers don’t want to annoy the reader, and therefore use fonts that are neither annoying, nor hard to read. Their job is to make the reader fall deep into the story and just not think about the font at all.

Antiqua fonts like Times New Roman and Garamond have been used in books for decades for the simple reason that they contribute to a good flow. You never really notice them, and that’s the point.

But has it gotten boring?

Seven years ago, font designer Frode Konstantin Helland set out to challenge the practice of mostly using the same old fonts in body texts. He has designed a new and updated antiqua font called Mu.

Feedback Time. The exhibition Times New Roman – Only Newer at Grafill in Oslo, made it possible to influence the final design of the new font Mu.

He started a blog documenting the design process, sharing sketches and thoughts, and inviting feedback. Helland believed this approach would improve his learning and make relevant tweaks possible. As the font is nearing completion, Helland took this approach one step further by creating an exhibition in Oslo of the process so far. Again, he actively asked for feedback by hanging post-it notes next to the sketches.

Fontastic exhibit. Ever notice the font of the books you’re reading. Well, you shouldn’t. But it doesn’t mean we should use the same fonts forever.
Fonthead. Frode Konstantin Helland has embarked on the holy grail og grapohic designers: Creating a brtand new font.

Participate in the design of Mu yourself by visiting Helland’s blog. In a few years, even this publication may be using a Norwegian font.

The writer, Mellina Villanueva, is a student at Kristiania University College and an editor in Untold Editorial, the group of students and young professionals that produce The Creative Industry Brief. 

 

1 Practical Typography
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Body text

Four important considerations.

2 Grafill
Eivind Molvær
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De nye skriftdesignerne. Del 1: Frode Bo Helland

De fleste designere og illustratører har forsøkt å tegne skrift på ett eller annet tidspunkt, meg selv inkludert. Det ender som oftest opp med en «artig» display-skrift som forblir i illustratordokumentet. Én vekt, kun majuskler, tall og kanskje et ampersandtegn.

3 Grafill
Lene Renneflott
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Jakten på den perfekte skrift

Jeg var så heldig å få intervjue skriftdesigner Frode Konstantin Helland før åpningen av utstillingen "Like Times New Roman – Only newer". Resultatet ble en åpningstale som både er en hyllest til skriftdesign som fag, og til Frode som deler sin metodikk og kunnskap med alle. Velkommen inn i prosessen og antikvaskriften Mu, Norges neste store brødtekstskrift.



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