Last night I went with “the gang” to see a 180 minute long film about a font. While there were no genetically engineered dinosaurs, points breaking, totals being recalled, space battles (or odysseys), half frontal nudity or post apocalyptic war zones, it was an entertaining and informative time.
Helvetica is a documentary by Gary Hustwit about the ubiquitous Swiss typeface Helvetica. From the history of the face, the film branches off into interviews of various designers over their work, process, and choices behind their use of type. Interspersed are well-scored montages of Helvetica in the wild on the streets of major cities. True to the promotional material, the film invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day. You’d be surprised how many are set in Helvetica.
Afterwards there was a brief Q&A with the film maker and the famous designer David Carson. The latter was at ease at the lectern and spoke with the cool wit of a slightly less creepy Jack Nicholson.
Seeing interviews with the designers stirred me like a budding violinist must feel listening to interviews of FAMOUS VIOLINIST NAME or SECOND FAMOUS VIOLINIST NAME. There’s a sweet spot of fame, passion, skill, and fortune that are hard to compare myself too. It would be easy if I knew that I wanted to be like that designer on the screen someday, but I’m not so sure. Partly because I know that I don’t share their passion and focus or the right kind of serendipity to end up with a life like theirs. I have a quiet voice telling me that some sort of fame in in my future, but the practical daily voice (the boring, doubtful voice) doesn’t know how it’s going to get there. But maybe it’s not supposed to know. It seems like my life keeps improving no matter what I do, so as long as I keep “doing” it may all be okay.