Identifying type is a strange mechanism. In the beginning, when you notice you’re getting good at it, it is a fun challenge, a brain exercise, sometimes a cute party trick. After a while you reach a point where you start annoying your friends and family, so you keep it to yourself. And go to the Typophile Identification Board to fuel what is becoming an addiction. You see, once the mental mechanism is firmly in place, it is impossible to switch it off again. It becomes a Pavlovian reflex. Whatever you read, you detect and identify the typefaces. When walking down the streets, you register the type used on shopfronts, billboards, and posters. When driving, the letters on trucks and car stickers. I once stood at the traffic lights behind a truck with elaborate graphics and type on its sides, and it had a warning on its back door, something along the lines of “Please don’t concentrate too much on the graphics on this truck because you may cause an accident”. Needless to say I felt personally addressed.
The problem with this instinctive type identification is that it also happens in the most inappropriate of situations, and those times you just wish you could switch it off. My wife and I attended a funeral the day before yesterday. As is customary the flowers and wreaths brought by family, friends, and acquaintances were initially arranged at both sides of the church door. When, saddened with grief, we entered the church I couldn't help but take a quick look at them. I was mortified when I distinguished the type on the ribbons attached to the wreaths. Two or three had Verdana on them, in one instance painfully squooshed, while the others were adorned with letters in… Comic Sans.
Am I an insensitive person for allowing myself to notice these things at such an inappropriate moment? Or is it the funeral undertakers who are insensitive for choosing such an inconceivably wrong typeface – or even suggesting it to their customers? Is it so much more work to simply select a formal script, classic serif caps, or even Times for all I care? Maybe it is high time for another industry-oriented educative website like Typography For Lawyers, this time aimed at funeral directors.
No rest for the wicked ;-)
Rest in peace, Yves. Without the Comic Sans you wouldn't even have considered writing this. So it is the undertaker's fault. Definitely. Somebody had to choose the typeface on a computer screen, so they knew its name, even if they were too blind to see it was unappropriate by its looks alone.
I am sure many other people had inappropriate taughts during the ceremony. About the kitchen light left on or the garbage not taken out. About the guy on the next row wearing two different socks. It is life.
04.09.2009 - 12.23.02
Posted by peter de roy
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Thanks for your understanding.