What Does Your Typeface Sound Like?

An appreciative nod to Thomas Cott for calling attention to San Francisco Symphony’s adoption of dynamic typeface as part of an effort to shift perceptions about the organization.  You are definitely going to have check out the article to get a sense of how dynamic typefaces differ from static ones. Until you see it, the following description may confuse you.

…an elongated serif typeface that, like music, shifts based on mood, context, and medium. The modernized brand is more friendly and accessible, widening the tent by targeting not just younger audiences, but an array of music aficionados, whether classical fans or not.

The team gave it a contemporary behavior, so “it can react, stretch, and skew and bend in reaction to sound.” Letters in the same word might be incrementally shortened or attenuated, so the logo, which reads “SF SYMPHONY,” arcs from left to right like a crescendo. Some words lean forcefully to the right for emphasis, like a pianist playing forte.

The full project information is on the website of their design agency, Collins. They have created a tool that will allow you to play with the typeface using your own audio input to see how it works.  Essentially, you can play music and then freeze the type at the point that seems the best visual reflection.

Obviously it leads me to wonder if this type of typeface manipulation might become more widespread in the near future. To some extent it makes design a little more difficult and requiring good judgment.  The best representation of a feeling via typeface may not work visually with images, nor may it be the most legible option for the full range of uses – what works on a billboard may not read well in smaller print format.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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