Title: Why Fonts Matter.
Author: Sarah Hyndman
Publisher: Virgin Books
No. of Pages: 144
Publishing Date: 2015
Reviewed by: Geoff Krawiec, Provisional RGD
Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer, writer and public speaker known for her interest in the psychology of type. Her book Why Fonts Matter takes a critical and interactive approach on why fonts are so important in our daily lives. At the beginning of the book, she states, “Fonts are no longer for geeks or graphic designers…More people than ever before are aware of them.” This is the main message throughout the book, as she explores people’s emotional response to fonts through public experiments, classroom activities, multi-sensory interpretations and a database of font reviews from a wide variety of groups including designers and non-designers.
This book offered a refreshing approach on how to think about fonts and type. Hyndman does not focus on designers' perspectives, but instead discusses what the general public thinks about typefaces, as they are the majority end consumers. She goes beyond the sometimes biased opinions of designers and type snobs to get a more real world view on famous fonts and styles. For example, designers might tie the personally of the famous Bauhaus typeface to the art movement of the 1920s German art school, while non-designers saw it as silly, clown-like, friendly typeface, or even that it resembles doughnuts.
Why Fonts Matter allows you to think critically about what fonts are really saying by using a variety of interactive activities throughout the book. Activities such as counting the number of typefaces you interact with on your daily commute, guessing what a movie would be about based on the title's typeface, creating a dating profile based on your favourite font, and evaluating typefaces from other senses such as sound or taste. There are even some typographic baking recipes hidden in the back. Hyndman makes you get out of your chair, interact with fonts, really get into the nitty-gritty of what typefaces are saying and understand how real people interpret with them in the real world.
Although light-hearted at times, Why Fonts Matter speaks volumes about the influence of typefaces and typography on the human psyche. It is an excellent book for students just starting out their design career or working design professionals to take a step back and stop taking themselves so seriously. It is an easy read, and is definitely worth it. My recommendation: read it, and do as many of the activities as possible, no matter how silly they may seem. This book truly does make you think differently about fonts, and why they matter in today’s society.
Geoff Krawiec is a graphic designer from Toronto with professional experience in branding, print, web design, and social media. With his background in marketing, he makes sure there is a strong strategy behind every design solution he produces. Geoff currently works as an in-house graphic designer at Roots Canada bringing the Roots brand to life through product and merchandise branding.