A Font Fanatic Faces Failure

fontsYes, it’s true. I love fonts. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it many times again — I love fonts. But I’ve discovered that like a demanding high-maintenance girlfriend or sister, sometimes fonts just don’t love me back.

A case in point was a recent mock-up for a website I submitted for one of my classes. I could not for the life of me find a font for the main head of a website for a professional wakeboarder and the chunk of text I dummied in was horrible. Unfortunately, everything I tried was worse than the previous one. I was frustrated and out of ideas. I closed the file and moved to the next project, trying to ignore it.

Finally, out of ideas I stumbled upon and then purchased a font called “Veneer” by  Yellow Design Studio. It was a handcrafted font that had the right look of vintage and grunge that resembled the wear and tear of a wakeboard or surfboard. I paid $15 – not a big deal for a font that I will be using liberally while working on this site from here on out. But was paying for a font the lazy way out?

veneerBecause we’ve been away from our design theory classes for a bit — and are muddling through coding classes with mostly just mediocre designs that reflect our reluctance to challenge our coding too extensively — it was nice to have the reminder of the role fonts play in design. (By the way, it was worth the $15.)

I love the artistry in creating fonts, and the artistry in using them especially well. Fonts have a character and a mood and a life of their own. The need to perform, breathe, shine. I had forgotten that. Trying to fit them into a box on a page was my mistake. Finding Veneer in my time of despair was refreshing and exciting. It allowed me some creativity and energy, while allowing me to keep a pretty simple design,especially when simplicity is really my main goal with this site.

Where fonts used to be limited to a small assortment that were deemed acceptable for their high legibility on screen, now fonts are able to break out of the mold a bit more freely. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am rather a font snob. Come at me with a flyer in Comic Sans and I am likely to walk away without a word. Don’t even get me started on Papyrus or Kristen. Give me invisible or give me Wow. And by “invisible”, I mean a font that is so natural it doesn’t draw attention to itself. By Wow, well, you know what I mean.

Hello, Helvetica.

And then, as usually happens, I was bombarded by fonts this week. I was keyed into Google fonts by an instructor and sent a hilariously awful link by another former newspaper colleague. The latter I’ll save for later, the former we’ll look at now.

googlefontsI’m almost embarrassed to admit I really had no idea about Google Fonts. (I hope to be more knowledgeable when I graduate from this program – so for now my excuse is that I’m just a student.) At the time I’m posting this, Google Fonts features 624 font families. Google Fonts allows users to sort and filter through hundreds of fonts in minutes, viewing them as words, lines, or paragraphs with whatever parameters they enter so it will look exactly as it is supposed to on a page before committing to it. Once a user chooses a font, they can choose the code format and copy a small snippet of code. (I chose the CSS option.) What an excellent tool for designers, and how fitting that it is Google yet again coming to the rescue.


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