Off Book | Typography by PBS Arts

Estimate time to read this page: 2 – 2 minutes

Featuring: Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Paula Scher, Eddie Opara, Julia Vasker, Deroy Peraza
Recommendation: Eh, watch it. It’s only 7 minutes of your life.

There’s a sweet little mini-documentary floating around the Internet about typography, its use, and it’s public profile. There’s really no new content here, especially if you’ve seen Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Plus, to my recollection, Gary’s doc doesn’t have Jonathan and Tobias from H&FJ, or Eddie Opara in it, and I always like to see new interviews with people I haven’t seen before. It’s only fitting that the fine gents from Hoefler & Frere-Jones are in it, given that they’ve designed some of the most influential, beautiful, and unfortunately overexposed typefaces of the last, I dunno, 5-10 years?

I’ve embedded the video below for your convenience. Have a look.

One question:
Is that really the definition of a font? I understand it comes from the same french root as fondue, meaning a thing that has been melted, and I had been lead to believe that in digital type parlance the word Typeface referred to a single weight (roman, bold, oblique, etc…), a Family was a group (like Archer or Gotham) and a Font was the software. Thinking about it, I think this comes from my understanding of font licenses, which is a software license, not a license for the art part (the shapes of the letters, etc).

Anyone want to set me straight?

2 Comments

  1. Jason

    H&FJ are featured in Helvetica. As for understanding font title hierarchy, a “typeface” and “type family” (think Gotham, Helvetica, Didot) are interchangeable. “Font” refers to the style of the typeface, i.e. Roman, Italic, Bold. etc.

    • I’ll have to rewatch Helvetica. I honestly don’t recall seeing H&FJ in it, but I mostly watched it at work, kind of in the background while I was being productive. 😉

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