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Prior to watching Helvetica, I knew how ubiquitous the typeface was, but I never considered it’s origins or why it is so popular. Learning about the European roots of Helvetica, as well as seeing the actual type foundries and process of creating the typeface, was very interesting. Additionally, the background of the naming of Helvetica (how it started out at “Helvetia,” which is Latin for “Switzerland”) was a great fact. I liked how the film incorporated a variety of countries to show how universal Helvetica is, and showed actual signs and posters to remind viewers where they have seen Helvetica in action. Overall, the film was highly informative and a great way to close out the course, because it showed how relevant and important an understanding of design can be in our society.


Watching Helvetica made me realize that, like any major event, each typeface has an entire history.  People study typeface by their form and structure, as well as the time period during which the typeface was created.  One of the speakers mentioned that if he had to compare himself to a typeface, he would be Helvetica because Helvetica is the perfect reflection of German precision.  It is perfect, with very exact curves and edges.  Like the speaker said, Helvetica reflects controlled emotion.  It made me think of typeface in a totally different way–not just as a mundane way to write–but as a major part of history.

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Helvetica: The Movie

Helvetica: The Movie was, in essence a pretty decent summary of everything I’ve learned in this class. Not the movie itself mind you, but the way that I view it. Before this class I doubt I would have noticed or understood most of the concepts about the movie in depth. But now, I find myself thinking in type ll the time. A particular favorite of mine is the Subway logo, which I notice draws the eye with its unique arrows. That being said, the fact that Helvetica is as ubiquitous as it is certainly is fascinating. The idea that images ranging from fashion store logos to subway (transportation) signs utilize helvetica effectively is just a testament to how versatile it is as a typeface. I would never have noticed how often I see helvetica or other typefaces without this class. To be able to understand the concept of Helvetica: The Movie is just like everything coming full circle for me in this class.


I never thought a movie about a typeface would ever hold my attention for 80 minutes.  Maybe it was just really well directed, but the movie and the plot were very interesting.  What I really liked was how throughout the entire movie, different examples of where the type is used throughout the world were shown.  From subways in NYC , to restauranst in Amsterdam I never realized how common the type is.  What I also thought was intriguing was that everyone interviewed in the movie had such a profound respect for type.  I think Helvetica is a font that really has nothing bad or negative about it.  Most fonts a professional would be able to pick out a flaw, but not Helvetica.

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Prior to the movie, I didn’t know Helvetica was such a popular type. I think it is a simple and clear type, but is overused. I know some people disagree and think it is classic, but in my opinion “so called” classic typefaces should be used on special occasions instead of as default. 

In the movie some people stressed that it is important that typefaces are legible, and I agree, but I also came to understand that the idea of the perfect type is subjective. Some people really like artsy type and think it should be expressive, while others disagree.