We’ve invited 25 of our favorite writers and thinkers to take a close look at their favorite (or least favorite) typefaces.
The font’s embellishments proceeded directly from the flourishes of 1960s psychedelic lettering, that progression a contract with the idea of an unbroken succession of period-defining aesthetics, Data 70 being a graffiti-tag of the utopian outer-spaciness that complemented drug-culture’s arcadian inward psychological journeys.
It is possible that Gill Sans is not the most beautiful typeface to sprout from the fertile mind of Eric Gill (1882–1940), towering genius of letterform, also unrepentant adulterer and devotee of both incest and bestiality.
Most of us couldn’t quite put our finger on what made these letters so different. But the secret was in the spaces between the letters. Chicago was one of the first proportional fonts, which meant that instead of each character straining to fill up pixels in a specified rectangle, the letters were allowed to take up as much or little space as they needed. It was more like a book than a screen.
Shatter came neither from the hand nor from transcendental sensuality but from cold, machine-induced paranoia. It attacked the Establishment’s preferred information typography style with a sharp edge and recomposed it in a jarring manner that still makes your eyes skitter and your brain tick trying to recompose it. Shatter literally sliced up Swiss modernist authority, and created an anti-Establishment statement from the shards.