Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A Visual Approach to Typography 5: Style

Style as interpreted by illustrators can mean several differing things. For some, style refers to the use of a specific media, such as scratchboard, or pen and ink. For others style can refer to a manner of mark making, while for others, it can relate to a form of compositional arrangement. And still for others, it can manifest itself in an artistic genre such as art deco style, or a cultural genre such as manga. Style can even be classified in reference to a form of message, such as humorous, scientific, or medical.


Now turning the discussion to typography, style is what most illustrators believe to be the most important criteria for creating or selecting type to be used with illustration. However, style choice without the support of the other decision-making criteria such as context, function, and association can yield less than satisfactory results. To a great extent, a successful typestyle choice is based on the illustration scheme and environment, the assignment purpose, and a correlation with a verbal message. All of these criteria in combination provide guidance for the selection of a typestyle.

Like context, choosing fonts by style, requires a visually oriented thought process, i.e., a sense of visual connoisseurship. Fortunately, illustrators possess a particularly adept visual sensitivity. Typefaces present all manner of stylistic forms. By present estimates, there are over 150,000 different styles available, however that is not surprising since western language typeface design has been occurring for over 500 years. As such, choosing fonts from digital suppliers such as FontShop, can be a daunting task. A fair amount of discussion on typographic style focuses on the aesthetics of font letterforms themselves, and the functionality of the font as it relates letterform structure. Less discussion has occurred concerning the aesthetic application of typefaces in visual contexts, and particularly in the context of illustration.

Illustration is about two things, (1) delivering a message, and (2) delivering it with flair in particular style. Illustrators should think of typography in the same way, and the selection and application of typography in an illustrated environment should support the natural style of that environment, the illustration assignment, and even the style of the illustrator.

Here are some examples of stylistic type choices with context, function, or association providing the inspiration for the application and usage of typography.

Typographic style by historical and cultural association.
Poster by Victor Beuren.

Typographic style by architectural association.
Poster by Michael Murphy.

Typographic style in context to the illustration.
Poster  design by Jeffrey Bowman.

Typographic style in context to the illustration.
Poster by DXDR.

Typographic style by historical association.
Poster by Emek.

Typographic style based on function.
Poster by Richard Perez.

Typographic style by cultural association.
Poster by Zhen Huang.

Typographic style by context and usage association.
Poster by Melinda Beck.

Typographic style by subject association.
Poster by Gina Kiel.

Typographic style by usage association. 
Poster by Lisa Audit.

Typographic style by historical association.
Poster by Nate Duval.

Typographic style by cultural association.
Poster by Marianne Walker.

Typographic style based on function.
Poster by Doe Eyed.