I am a child of the 80’s. That means I remember the music (The Cure, Roxy Music, Depeche Mode, Violent Femmes, Book of Love, Icicle Works, need I go on?) the fashion (Members Only jackets, cuffed jeans, shoulder pads???) and the movies (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Breakfast Club, Blade Runner). We know that each generation is marked by a particular set of music, fashion, and movies – things that create markers in the minds of each generation – their own “look and feel”. And I think the same can be said of typographic trends in design. Here too each generation is marked by a particular group of fonts, treatment styles, and usage.
One of the cultural design trends that I’ve always loved is signage – especially those old motel and restaurant signs. Don’t you just love them? There seemed to be such care and craft taken to create a work of art that still stand as markers in time. The treatment of the type served not only to communicate an idea (e.g. “here’s great motel”), but also to create a cohesive look and feel that has lasted a lifetime. The type was fully integrated into the design construction itself.
Interestingly, as with all good design, what goes around comes around. Sorta like the 80’s fashion comeback, you don’t have to look far to find the influence of retro design elements, including the treatment of type. From industrial design to typography, retro-modern seems to stick around.
One of the tools that is useful in helping identify out-dated or retro fonts in an image is our own FontGenius for Macintosh. You can use it to select the typography in an image and it will identify the font. Very helpful.
So the next time an old song takes you back to the future (ahem), head back soon… you wouldn’t want to miss a good comeback.