4.24.2007

Como se dice 'Helvetica'?

Examples of extremely embellished letterforms where legibility is traded in favor of the pure enjoyment of the form. (Source: Graphics.com)

There's been a lot of news made this year about the 50th anniversary of Helvetica's debut on the design scene, including a new documentary The Blog was lucky enough to check out recently. But a much more senior typeface, Mexican Blackletter (a.k.a. Gothic miniscul), is pulling it's own spotlight time now too, according to a recent post on MediaBistro's UnBeige:
By way of public radio show "The World," we learn that Helvetica isn't the only font finding fame this year. Mexican Blackletter is a book by graphic designer Cristina Paoli which focuses on the Corona beer typeface's prevalence in Mexican culture. A decorative dinosaur compared to prim 50-year-old Helvetica, Mexican Blackletter is further distingushed by its many charming variations in hand-painted signs and gains undeniable street cred by being a popular choice for tattoos.
"Anyone out there with a Helvetica tattoo? We didn't think so. That's because Mexican Blackletter could kick your Swiss ass."
In The World interview, Paoli explains just how ubiquitous Mexican Blackletter really is:
Paoli: "You can find it everywhere. On taxis, on public transport, from groceries to hairdressers, butcher shops, jewelry shops. I even found a police station for tourists that use blackletter.

"Most of the time its drawn by hand. And this really has a tremendous impact on the actual shape of the letter. So it makes the whole letter form and its ornaments much more soft and lose. More times than not it's made by the inexperienced hand of just ordinary people. The outcome is a typographical creation release from the rules and constraints of typography.


Read an excerpt from Paoli's book at Graphics.com.
Listen to the PRI interview at TheWorld.com.
Read more about the history of blackletter at Wikipedia.

The book: "Mexican Blackletter."Cristina Paoli. 96 pages, Size: 10 x 11 inches, Format: Paperback. Publication Date: December 2006, $24.95.
ISBN: 0-9772827-8-3 Category: Mexico, Typography

(Or you can order a hardcover version for $18.96 at Amazon.com! The Blog is a big fan of deals and discounts on design books.)

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