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Myth of Helvetica

VLADANA KREKLOVA
BA Graphic Design
Prague College, School of Art & Design, 2011

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank my tutor Simon Gray for great
leadership and guidance throughout the whole process
of writing my dissertation.
I would also like to thank Stephen Douglas for proofreading my dissertation and for correcting some
language errors and to my family for all of their support.
Vladana Kreklova

Contents
Introduction................................................................................................................... ......5
The world before Helvetica
European avant-garde movements................................................................................. ......6
Constructivism and Bauhaus......................................................................................... ......7
Helveticas timeline
After the Second World War........................................................................................... ......9
Post-modernists........................................................................................................... ....12
Helvetica now............................................................................................................... ....14
Design of Helvetica
Why Helvetica is considered well designed font............................................................... ....15
How Arial affects perceptions of Helvetica...................................................................... ....17
Is Helvetica a retro font?................................................................................................ ....18
Is there a routine in the use of Helvetica?........................................................................ ....19
How Helvetica was used then and now........................................................................... ....19
How usage of Helvetica has changed and the importance of legibility................................ ....20
Conclusion.................................................................................................................... ....21
Bibliography................................................................................................................. ....22
List of Illustrations......................................................................................................... ....23

Introduction
Helvetica is one of the most commonly used typefaces.
It has been around for more than fifty years and it is still
very popular. Many people say it is so popular because
of its neutrality, but we have to realise that no typeface is
neutral. The neutrality of Helvetica is a myth and probably
that myth is one of the reasons that made Helvetica so
popular. Although Helvetica has been used many times
before in informational systems, airports, city signage
and many corporate identities as well as in works of art,
it has still kept its independence.
This work will explore the story of the typeface that has
been celebrated all around the world, but also hated by
some. Lets have a look at the crucial time periods and
usage of the font that some could say is timeless. Why
was Helvetica designed in the first place and what is the
future of Helvetica?

The world before Helvetica


EUROPEAN AVANT-GARDE
MOVEMENTS
After the First World War in Europe, the avant-garde
movements such as Futurism and Dadaism emerged.
These movements wanted to create an international
aesthetic and were absolutely against national styles.
According to them, art should talk to all of society.
There were many exhibitions and manifestos that were
supposed to help people realise the important part in
life art could play. They wanted to show people that life
could be different with art. They used a lot of typography
in their manifestos and publicity. Because they realised
that reading affects not only what is being read, but
also how it is represented and visualised, they were
experimenting with typography and playing around
with letters and words. It was the Cubists who started

02
F.T. Marinetti, Les mots en liberte futuristes, 1919

to use type in their paintings by cutting out newspaper


signs and sticking them onto their canvases, but futurist

in their work. This experimentation was not done for

Fillipo Tomasso Marinetti was the one who made use

stylistic purposes but for intellectual reasons by artists

of words and type in a new radical way. Marinettis

that were influenced by the First World War.

idea was called Words of Freedom which was a big

Dada and all other avant-garde movements werent just

typographic experiment with single letters and words

art movements. They were a cultural movements within

and the Futurists and Dadaists were using this concept

literature and theatre as well. Dada artists wanted to go


away from the typical arts aesthetics as was known
until then. Their art was actually called anti-art. The
First World War affected them in a way that made them
cynical towards humanity after seeing what men could
do to each other. Thats why they wanted to be against
everything that was known before as art. They were
doing the exact opposite to what art was supposed
to represent. They were ignoring any aesthetics or
meanings of interpretation. It is an irony that Dada has
been a very influential movement in Modern Art as they
were basically against art. When we look at Marinettis
designs for his concept, we can see a great visual

01
F.T. Marinetti, Les mots en liberte futuristes, 1919

similarity with the designs of postmodernists, although


the reasons and contexts are different.
5

CONSTRUCTIVISM AND BAUHAUS


The year 1917 was crucial for Russian artists as that
was the time of the great Russian revolution. Russian
artists wanted to bring art into the new society as a
part of a reconstruction. Their style constructivism
showed the rejection of traditional materials and they
concentrated on photography, paper on board and
metal. As Richard Hollis says (2006), Constructivism was
for Russians more an ideology than a style. In Europe,
artists and designers were similar to Constructivist.
They were reducing the visual constructions by using
simple geometrical elements. All their projects were
relying purely on colour and the application of modern
technology. If we compare the avant-garde in Russia
and in Europe we can see that they were all influenced
by the political situation and that their ethos was in a
way similar. Constructivists and Dadaists were both
standing for the idea of destroying the old approaches

04
Bauhaus poster, Joost Schmidt, 1923

to art, but they were coming from different directions.


whereas

In 1919 a new design college was opened in Weimar in

Dadaists were anarchic and emphasised spontaneity

Germany. This new institution was known as the Bauhaus

and chance. Constructivism was popular outside of

and many Avant-garde artists such as Russian Wassily

the Soviet Union as well, especially in Germany, but it

Kandinsky and Swiss Paul Klee were teaching in that

became a style used all over Europe.

college. The early Bauhaus was inspired and affected

Constructivists

emphasised

rationality,

by the post-war political atmosphere in Germany. They


used elements of Cubism, Expressionism and Dadaism.
Richard Hollis (2006) states the fact, that after 1921, the
schools Expressionist style gave way to Constructivism.
In that year, the leader of the Dutch De Stijl group
Theo van Doesburg moved to Weimar. De Stijls visual
philosophy was a very abstract and distinctive geometric
approach. All of their paintings, design and architecture
were relying on strong bold colour. Van Doesburgs use
of typography was very geometrical and his style was the
start to a typographical revolution and Bauhaus design.
Constructivists and Dadists, including Van Doesburg,
founded the New Typography as a movement that
started to use a type in a new way. A former student
03
Collage of Constructivists designs

of the Bauhaus, Herbert Bayer, became one of the


most influential graphic artists of Bauhaus. In 1927 he
designed a typeface that combined capitals and lower
case into a single alphabet, which was called Universal
(Dodd,2006). From then on, all Bauhaus literature had
no capital letters. Another very important artist of that
period was Jan Tschichold, who wasnt a member of
the Bauhaus, but was impressed by the schools work.
He was a teacher of typography from Leipzig. When he
went to the first Bauhaus exhibition, he was fascinated
by the work and he was very much influenced by it. He

06
A spread from Jan Tschischolds 1928 book Die Neue Typographie

wrote an article called Elementary Typography, where he


describes the approaches towards to a new typographic
design. This work was very popular and became a kind of
manifesto. After that, he wrote his most famous piece of

07
A spread from Jan Tschischolds 1928 book Die Neue Typographie

work called The New Typography. It was a very detailed


guide on how to use modern typography. Tschichold
elaborated ten basic principles that were supposed to
be used in modern typography. (Hollis, 2005) We can
have a look at this spread, where Tschichold describes
one of his ideas on how to use typographical design.
Very soon after releasing the book, typographers and
printers started to work and design according to its
rules.

05
Jan Tschichold, The woman without a name, part two
Poster

Helveticas timeline
AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR

more open, democratic and optimistic. The designers

After all the horrors of the Second World War, people

This is the period when we get the emergence of the

started to be idealistic. Again as with the First World War,

so called international typographic style or Swiss style

the Second one both influenced and had a huge impact

(Poynor, Helvetica 2007). Thats when Helvetica comes

on artists. Many post-war architects were influenced

to the world. The rational typeface which can be applied

by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, who developed a

to all kinds of information from city signage and science

system of dimensions and structures for buildings based

systems to corporate identities.

on the human body and classical proportions. American

Helvetica was designed in Switzerland in 1957. The

painters such as Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko

need for that typeface was obvious. All graphic design

were introduced to Europe and Pollocks large multi-

and corporate identities were until then very illustrative,

layered drip paintings and Rothkos rectangular colour

usage of fonts was random, mixed, hand drawn and

panels were an instant hit. All these influences were

very busy, almost childish. All different styles were used

something fresh for the Europe broken by the war. In

together with effects and materials, that made it look

the design world, in the early 1950s, designers wanted

almost home-made. Adverts and editorial designs from

to rebuild and reconstruct, to make new things, to be

Life magazine from the 1950s show all the habits that

felt responsible for the social impact they would make.

08
Adverts in Life Magazine in 1950s

were used in typography and graphic design then. In the

to make a modern version of Akzidenz Grotesk, which

1960s, there was a desire for more legibility and clarity.

was a traditional 19th century German sans serif. The

All graphic design as was known until then was replaced

typeface that Miedinger produced was released as Neue

by bright photographs and modern, bold, strong,

Haas Grotesk (Dodd, 2006). The original name was too

straightforward typeface, that delivers the message in

long and didnt sound very good, especially because

a clean, crisp design, that catches the attention. It was

the font was aiming to be sold in America, so when

Helvetica. We can compare and contrast more adverts

they released the typeface in Germany in 1961, it was

from Life magazine, and see how different they are from

renamed as Helvetica, the Latin word for Switzerland.

the ones of the 1950s. Helvetica changed the graphic

It was a real step from the 19th century. Helvetica was

design of that era.

more neutral and machined. Designers of that period

09
Coca-cola advert in Life Magazine in 1950s

10
Coca-cola advert in Life Magazine in 1960s

As the economic situation was desperate after the war,

loved neutrality and believed, that typeface should not

it then improved in the 1950s, type-foundries started

have a meaning in itself. The meaning was supposed to

to come back to their full production. Type-foundries

be in the content of the text. Simon Loxley (2006) says,

were competing with each other by coming up with new

that Helvetica was popular because of two main factors.

typefaces. The growing demand for typefaces made the

It was a clean, representative Swiss style. But also, it has

Haas Foundry in Switzerland want to develop a new fresh

been said that Helvetica hasnt got any distinguishing

typeface. In the mid 1950s directors Edouard and Alfred

features, so it couldnt offend anything or anyone. It has

Hoffmann briefed their in-house designer Max Miedinger

a friendly feel.

Crouvel used the work of an artist, Theo van Doesburg,


and because the illustration was already from that
particular period, he decided to use the most neutral
typeface Helvetica. For all designers of that era,
neutrality was important and grids were a tool to create
an order, so their designs are clean, clear and readable.
Everything had to have its reasoning and be rational.

11
Univers typeface

There was another popular font release that year. It


was a typeface called Univers, produced in another
Typefoundry in Paris. Univers was less mechanical than
Helvetica, and it was more open line of type. According
to Richarch Hollis (2006) Univers was internationally
successful, but for Modernists it wasnt as neutral, so
for large posters and the headings in books, the choice
was again Helvetica.
The style of that time was called Swiss formalism and
graphic designers were using that characteristic grid
structure in their work. For example, Karl Gerstners
poster from 1957 shows a kind of mechanism and
layering.
Wim Crouvel, one of the biggest designers of the

12
Karl Gerstner - poster 1957

modernist era, is actually called gridnik for his famous


use of grids. He says, When I start to design, first I
invent a grid and then within the grid I play my game,
(Helvetica, 2007). His work includes a logo for the city
of Rotterdam, a collection of postage stamps and a
famous calendar, that uses a type in a cut-like way. His
postage stamps are one of the examples of his usage
of Helvetica. The stamps were designed in The Stilj
Movement, which was a Dutch art movement.

13
Wim Crouwel,The Stijl stamps 1983

10

POST-MODERNISTS

It was Odermatt & Tissi in Switzerland, the home of the


International Style, that were one of the first that came

By 1979, especially in America, there was a reaction

with the New Wave. The designs they produced were

against Helvetica. Designers wanted to get away

ignoring everything that has to do with the clarity and

from the orderly clean smooth surface of design. the

order that were the norm in Swiss design. They used

horrible sleekness of it all, as they saw it, says Rick

bold letter-forms that overlapped each other in colourful

Poynor (Helvetica, 2007). A younger generation of

heaps and angled columns with coloured panels. In

graphic designers was questioning the perception of

Britain, it was Neville Brody, who started the rebellious

Modernism. Modernism and all the things that came

movement. When punk rock began to cause outrage in

from its idealism started to be routine and designers felt

the music industry, Brody started to design typefaces,

it needed a change. They realised the type should be

logotypes and record sleeves for Fetish Record in Dada

its own medium, that can speak. In the post-modern

and Futurist style (Dodd, 2006). Brody then started to

period, designers were breaking things up. They were

work for the magazine The Face. The design of the

going away from the clean, slick and smooth surface

magazine was very different from any other known

of design. They wanted to produce something thats

designs before. First, it was just a big experiment and

more alive, something with energy and vitality. Designers

the design was shocking. Later on, Brodys usage

wanted to express subjectivity and their own feelings

of typography was considered more playful and

about the world. They believed that the way something

adventurous and started to be very interesting and

is presented defines the way people react. When on a

wanted. He was then designing his own typefaces, that

design of a book cover, poster or leaflet is used three

were used in the magazine and The Face became a kind

different typefaces, the message could be read differently

of style bible (Loxley, 2006)

each time, because every typeface has its own style and
makes people feel differently about the way it looks.

14
Covers of The Face Magazine

15
Offset brochure - Rosemarie Tissi, 1981

11

Helvetica was absolutely a no-no for post-modernists.


As Paula Scher describes (Helvetica, 2007), Helvetica for
her was mainly the type for big corporations and at that
time, it looked a little fascistic to her for its sleekness. It
was her, who started to design diagrams, maps, charts
and all types of information, that one would usually
find in encyclopaedias, in a different, alternative way
(Poynor, 2003). Her design for the cover of AIGA annual
was about American graphic design. So she made an
illustration of the United States and filled the illustration
with information of how many percent of people use
Helvetica, which she based on the election for Reagan.

18
Cover of book with David Carsons work

Neville Brody in the Helvetica film explains, why the


choice of typeface is so important. The way the message
is dressed is crucial especially in advertising. He gives
an example of an advert for a jeans. If it is written in a
grange font it will say that the product will be ripped
street wear. If it is written in Helvetica, the product will
be clean and the customers would feel safe, and they
16
Paula Scher, cover of magazine AIGA

wouldnt stand out.


If we compare the time periods of art movements of
avant-garde and post-modernists, we can see a big
similarity. They all wanted to use type in a very expressive
and unusual way. Helvetica for them was that neutral
typeface without any expression, and that is why postmodern artists hated it and never used it. For Stephan
Seigmester, Helvetica and the whole of modernism was

17
One of Paula Schers maps - NYC Transit

disappointing and simply boring (Helvetica,2007).

Another great graphic designer David Carson explains,


that if you want to say some important message and
you write it in a boring typeface, the message could
get lost. If something is legible doesnt mean that it
communicates. What is more important, is that it doesnt
mean it communicates the right thing. All his work when
he was starting to do design was a big experiment.
He just did how he felt it was supposed to be. He has
never being formally trained as a designer and thats is
probably why his work was so innovative and impulsive.
He realised much later, that there were some kind of
rules in the usage of type.

19
Stefan Sagmeister, poster
for Lou Reeds Set the
Twilight Reeling (1996)

12

HELVETICA NOW

good and what is in the now style. The design studio


Experimental Jetset is a graphic design collective from

Helvetica is just as popular now as it was when it first

the Netherlands, who use Helvetica in most of their

appeared. It is difficult to say what is popular these days,

designs. Danny van den Dungen says that they use it

what is the trend. We all live in a free world and everyone

mainly because it takes a lot of energy to hunt for the

has a different style and different opinion on what looks

new typeface all the time. When they were students, they
were looking for a different font, then realised somebody
else had used it, so they had to search again. So they
use Helvetica, because everybody uses it and it is very
adaptable. They are not against experimenting that has
been done by post-modernists like David Carson. What
they do is just an extension of that. They experiment
with Helvetica. Because Helvetica is a reasonably old
typeface, it is sometimes used in a retro style. Some of
Experimental Jetsets designs are like that, but some are
very modern. If we have a look at the work of Michael C
Place, we find different kinds of Helvetica use. What he
is trying to do is to make Helvetica speak in a different
way and he is definitely one of the designers that really
enjoy using the font. His poster Symbolism is a perfect
example of different ways of using Helvetica.

20
Experimental Jetset, Stedelijk Museum CS -Logotype

21
Experimental Jetset, Drum & Bassline flyers

22
Michael C. Place - Symbolism poster

13

Design of Helvetica
WHY IS HELVETICA CONSIDERED A
WELL DESIGNED FONT?

colours. Red and blue, so emblematic of America. Other


famous logos are for instance Jeep, The North Face or
BMW. What is interesting is that every logo evokes a

Helvetica has been used many times in free art as well

different mood although they all uses the same typeface.

as in many corporate identities. People dont even

As Jonathan Hoefler (Helvetica, 2007) says: American

realise that the most famous logos are designed with

Apparel uses Helvetica and it looks cheeky. American

Helvetica. For example, American Airlines was one of

Airlines uses Helvetica and it looks sober. We can go

the first identities designed with Helvetica and it hasnt

and examine each use of Helvetica and we realise that it

been changed since. The revolutionary thing about that

is the typeface that gives the designer a free hand to use

logo is that the name is written as one word in Helvetica

it in the way it needs to be used.

typeface and is just differentiated by two different

Leslie Savan, media writer (Helvetica, 2007) describes,

23
Collage of logos

14

So should we think that Helvetica is a perfect typeface?


If we have a look at all designs made from Helvetica,
it seems to be perfect. Many posters and corporate
identities are designed using Helvetica and the letters
are just right. Typographer Matthew Carter (Helvetica,
2007) admits that he is glad that nobody asked him
to redesign Helvetica, because he wouldnt know
what to do. Helvetica is just right. There were some
improvements to Helvetica, but none of them was
actually any better

24
Massimo Vignelli

that governments and corporations love Helvetica


because on the one hand, it makes them seem neutral
and efficient, while the smoothness of the letters makes
them almost human. That is a quality they all want.
Helvetica has been used in IRS or EPA. Massimo Vignelli
designed New York City Transit Signage, but Helvetica
has been used all around the world at airports, for
subway signage and all the warnings and information
signs in streets. Although Helvetica is supposed to be
the neutral typeface, it is interesting that people, mostly
designers, notice when Helvetica is used somewhere. If
it was that neutral, shouldnt it be invisible, unnoticeable?
25
Massimo Vignelli

26
Massimo Vignelli

15

HOW DOES ARIAL AFFECT THE


PERCEPTION OF HELVETICA?

new typeface. Of course if you have a perfect typeface,

When Helvetica was created, it was used by many

says Eric Spiekerman (typefan101, 2009). Arial is a

designers at that time for either their free art or for

typeface that people probably know about a bit more

commercial purposes. Many corporations started to

than Helvetica. It is a fact that majority of people use

use the typeface for their identities. Helvetica became

Microsoft computers rather than Macintosh, so Arial is

even more popular when it was licensed by Apple and

more available to them. Designers spot Helvetica and

included with every Macintosh computer. Apples rival

know the difference immediately, so the fact that it

Microsoft needed something strong like Helvetica.

could be confused with Arial by the public doesnt mean

Microsoft, which is a company without any taste as

that the perception of Helvetica could be damaged. In

Steve Jobs once said, didnt want to pay Linotype any

the end it is the designers who use that typeface for

money, so they asked Monotype to design for them a

commercial purposes.

you cant change it. It cant go better, so it went worse,

27
Arial vs Helvetica

16

IS HELVETICA A RETRO FONT?

still want to use it. It is still a very modern typeface, but


it has to be used right and it illustrates that Helvetica

Considering Helvetica was designed more than fifty

isnt neutral.

years ago, it is still used a lot. We can see that many

If we have a look at the past and go through the phases of

companies are still trying to have a new identity and

the 1960s modernism and the 1970s post-modernism,

they are trying to use Helvetica as their new image.

we realise that Helvetica can be either loved or hated.

For example GAP with their famous logo in a serif font

Even designers of today are in these two groups.

were just trying to renew their brand by changing their

They either say, that Helvetica is a perfect, clean, clear

trademark. Their original logo was being used for over

typeface or that it is a boring, overused default type.

twenty years. The company felt that they needed a

As David Carson says (Helvetica, 2007), there is a very

change, so they decided to re-brand themselves with

thin line between simple and clean and powerful, and

a logo in Helvetica and their famous blue box was just

between simple and clean and boring. Famous designer

stuck in the corner of the sign. Immediately, customers

Eric Spiekerman (Helvetica, 2007) admits that Helvetica

started to give their opinion of the new image and in

was a very good typeface at the time. It answered the

the end, the company came back to their original logo.

demand and what was needed, but now it became one

It wasnt a successful use of Helvetica at all, but it just

of those defaults, that are everywhere and people just

shows that Helvetica is still in fashion, because people

use it because it is just there.

28
Original GAP logo

29
Attempt for a re-brand

17

IS THERE A ROUTINE USE OF


HELVETICA?

HOW WAS HELVETICA USED THEN


AND NOW?

Numerous designers say that there is a routine use of

When Helvetica was used the first time, it was by the real

Helvetica. It is true that Helvetica has been used many

modernists such as Massimo Vignelli and Wim Crouwel.

times before; but of course it has, Helvetica is over fifty

It was the perfect tool they needed and wanted for their

years old. It can be called perfect typeface, because, if

work. And they obviously still use it, but maybe not in a

it is used well, it looks very good. But a designer has to

way it is being used now. Wim Crouwels motto is the

consider all Helveticas aspects. The typeface could be

basic modernist rule - pure, clean, clear design. He uses

very strong and feel heavy, so it needs a space around it.

grids all the time and tries to keep everything in order.

And of course, as it has been used many times before,

After the big boom, the post-modernist era came along

somebody could say why use Helvetica again, but there

- the era that just wanted to be against Helvetica. They

is the challenge. Thats what makes a designer. To look

didnt know what they were caring for. They only knew

for a different approach and try to be creative in a field or

what they were against and what they were against

area where everything has been done already.

was Helvetica, says Massimo Vignelli (Helvetica,


2007). Designers now are trying to use Helvetica in
different ways. For example Experimental Jet studio
says (Rudy Vanderlans, 2003) they use Helvetica mainly
for the neutrality, but realise no typeface is neutral. The
objectivity of Helvetica is a myth, which turned the
typeface into one of the most widely used typefaces in

30
Helvetica tattoo

the first place. Because of the neutrality, whether real or


imagined, they can fully focus on the design itself and
keep the concept as clear and pure as possible. But
they dont use Helvetica in the same way as the first
modernist designers. They experiment and try to use
this neutral typeface in a different way. We can debate
whether Helvetica is used now just because it was so
revolutionary at the time when it was first released or
because it is really such a good typeface. The fact is,
that this typeface became some kind of a cult. These

31
Helvetica chair

days, Helvetica is being used not only in an usual


graphic design industry. It is being used in ways to show
that Helvetica is a hero and some kind of a symbol that
represents a classical beliefs in graphic design. People
have tattoos made by using Helvetica, just to make a
statement, that Helvetica is something they believe in.
There are T-shirts, bags, necklaces even furniture or
biscuit cutters made by using that typeface. Helvetica
became a lifestyle. We could say, there is a community

32
Helvetica biscuit cutter

of people, who are just in love with the typeface.

18

HOW USAGE OF HELVETICA CHANGED


SINCE IT CAME OUT AND HOW
LEGIBILITY IS IMPORTANT.

spend extra time to read it. For example while scanning


pages, reading signs or skimming through catalogues
or lists. Ruari McLean says (1992) that for instance,
in newspapers, flyers and all advertising leaflets, the

Helvetica can be used the same way as it used to be

headlines should pop right off the page into a readers

and still look good. It might look like a retro style, but

brain. The same is with a table of contents or parts of

it doesnt need to be. The thing about that typeface is,

lists, a reader should be able to absorb the names of the

that it gives a designer the opportunity to do whatever

parts while just sliding down the page.

they can. Which brings us to the question, is it neutral

According to Ruari McLean, the legibility of typeface

then? We should have a closer look at the art of legibility,

depends of course on the qualities of the typeface

because that is a very important part of type design. It

itself, but also on how it is used. If a good typeface is

could do a lot with the design and use of a type. It can

used badly, it could be actually less legible then a poor

change the mood and the style. We dont realise it, but

typeface with a legibility that was properly done and the

we dont read letter by letter. We see the whole word

typeface was used well.

and it goes straight to our brain, and then it is up to its

Helvetica is a typeface that is naturally legible, but as

legibility as to how long it takes to actually realise what

Erik Spiekerman says (Helvetica, 2007), it needs a lot

word we are reading. If the text isnt perfectly legible, we

of white space around. Although it is considered as a

have to spend more time to read it. It could be only a

very legible typeface, it needs to be used very carefully.

second, but it could make a difference to the experience

He says that a real typeface needs rhythm and contrast

of reading.

as found in handwriting, and apparently Helvetica hasnt

Text needs to be legible especially in situations where

got any of that. It is very heavy, so a designer needs

people need to only skim read information and recognise

to very carefully consider the spacing. The fact is, that

the important information immediately without having to

when Helvetica is used well, it is beautiful.

19

Conclusion
After exploring the background of Helvetica, the
development and impact of different art styles, it could
be easy to say that Helvetica is neutral. If we think about
the fact opinions are so divided, how could Helvetica
possibly be neutral? The fact that although people think
it is invisible and is the air of the city, how come that
everyone within the design industry notices it when they
see it? It seems to be efficient and clean, but still, maybe
thats what distinguishes it so much that it is probably
even more visible and noticeable. If some people have
such strong feelings about its design, either positive
or negative, that leaves us with the conclusion that its
neutrality really is a myth.

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Bibliography
Baines P. & Haslam A. (2005), Type&Typography. Laurence King Publishing
Computer Arts (2011) January, issue 183
Computer arts projects (2009) June, issue 124
Computer arts projects (2010) February, issue 133
Robin Dodd (2006) Form Gutenberg to Opentype. The Ilex Press Limited
Stephen Eskilson (2007) Graphic design: a new history. Laurence King
Helvetica (2007) Directed by Gary Hustwit [Film] USA: Swiss Dots Ltd.
Lars Muller (2008) Helvetica, Homage to a typeface. Lars Muller Publishers.
Steven Heller and Georgette Ballance (2001) Graphic design history. Allworth Press
Richard Hollis (2005) Graphic design, a concise history. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Richard Hollis (2006) Swiss graphic design: the origins and growth of an international style, 1920-1965. Yale
University Press.
David Jury (2006) What is typography?. RotoVision
Simon Loxley (2006) Type: the secret history of letters. I.B.Tauris
Ruari McLean (1992) Manual of Typography. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Jan Middendrop (2004) Dutch type. OIO Publishers
Pincas, S. and Loiseau, M. (2008) A History of Advertising. Taschen GmbH
Rick Poynor (2003) No more rules: graphic design and postmodernism. Laurence King Publishing
Typefan101 (2009) Erik Spiekermann - Extra Interview. Available at : http://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=F691weEVpwc (Accessed: 1 November 2010)
Rudy Vanderlans (2003) Helveticanism, interview with Experimental Jetset, Emigre magazine, May 2003
Massimo Vignelli (2007) Vignelli from A to Z. The Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd
Massimo Vignelli, Lella Vignelli (2004) Design Is One. The Images Publishing Group Pty Ltd
Robin Williams (1998) The Non-Designers Type Book. Peachpit Press

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List of illustrations
Front cover picture, http://ilovetypography.com/love/
01 (page 06) - F.T. Marinetti, Les mots en liberte futuristes, 1919; http://tia4310.blogspot.com/2008/09/
presentation-slides.html
02 (page 06) - F.T. Marinetti, Les mots en liberte futuristes, 1919; http://blog.semanticfoundry.
com/2009/01/25/from-heidegger-to-twitter-thoughts-on-self-interaction-design/
03 (page 07) Collage of Constructivist designs; http://dontcomehereomg.blogspot.com/2010/05/fromconstructivism-to-modernism.html
04 (page 07) Bauhaus poster, Joost Schmidt, 1923; Robin Dodd (2006) Form Gutenberg to Opentype. The Ilex
Press Limited
05 (page 08) Jan Tschichold, The woman without a name, part two Poster; http://agcira.blogspot.
com/2009_08_01_archive.html
06 (page 08) A spread from Jan Tschischolds 1928 book Die Neue Typographie; Robin Dodd (2006) Form
Gutenberg to Opentype. The Ilex Press Limited
07 (page 08) A spread from Jan Tschischolds 1928 book Die Neue Typographie; Robin Dodd (2006) Form
Gutenberg to Opentype. The Ilex Press Limited
08 (page 09)Coca-cola adverts in Life Magazine in 1950s; http://oldbike.wordpress.com/vintage-bicycleadverts-1920s-1950s/; http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/04/21/celebration-of-vintage-and-retro-design/
09 (page 10) Coca-cola advert in Life Magazine from 1950s; http://www.adglitz.com/category/ad-folklore/
10 (page 10) Coca-cola advert in Life Magazine in 1960s; http://josh-in-reel-life.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_
archive.html
11 (page 11) Univers typeface; http://www.assertivemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/80-beautiful-fontstypefaces-for-professional-design/univers-std.gif
12 (page 11) Karl Gerstner - poster 1957; Robin Dodd (2006) Form Gutenberg to Opentype. The Ilex Press
Limited
13 (page 11) Wim Crouwel,The Stijl stamps, 1983; http://www.neshanmagazine.com/A%20package%20
from%20Europe-11.htm
14 (page 12) Covers of The Face Magazine; http://shapersofthe80s.com/
15 (page 12) Offset brochure - Rosemarie Tissi, 1981; http://www.clearmag.com/assets/2010/06/p300Rosemarie-Tissi-brochure-1981-668x859.jpg
16 (page 13) Paula Schers design of cover for AIGA Magazine; http://blog.eyemagazine.com/?p=386
17 (page 13) NYC Transit by Paula Scher; http://joelaz.com/post/107337876/nyc-transit-by-paula-scher-detailview-artist
18 (page 13) Cover of book with David Carsons work; http://pantagruel.typepad.com/devnull/2008/05/20design-remin.html
19 (page 13) Stefan Sagmeister, poster for Lou Reeds Set the Twilight Reeling (1996); http://2143.tumblr.
com/post/24240434/stefan-sagmeister-poster-for-lou-reeds-set-the
20 (page 14) Stedelijk Museum CS - Logotype ;http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/

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21 (page 14) Paradiso Amsterdam, Drum & Bassline - flyers; http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/


22 (page 14) Michael C. Place - poster; Computer arts projects (2009) June, issue 124
23 (page 15) Collage of logos; each logo downloaded from google.co.uk
24 (page 16) Massimo Vignelli, NYC Transit signage; http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/artwork/massimovignelli-updates-his-new-york-city-subway-diagram-048963
25 (page 16) Massimo Vignelli, NYC Transit signage; http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsostatic/3947688462/
26 (page 16)Massimo Vignelli, NYC Transit signage; http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/artwork/massimovignelli-updates-his-new-york-city-subway-diagram-048963
27 (page 17) Arial vs Helvetica, http://ilovetypography.com/2007/10/06/arial-versus-helvetica/
28 (page 18) Original GAP logo, http://pittsburghtrademarklawyer.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/gap-scraps-newlogo/
29 (page 18) Attempt for a re-brand, http://www.donniebelldesign.com/blog/?p=255
30 (page 19) Helvetica tattoo, http://ilovetypography.com/2009/01/05/to-a-typetastic-new-year/
31 (page 19)Helvetica chair, http://www.hastell.com/
32 (page 19) Helvetica biscuit cutters, http://laughingsquid.com/helvetica-cookie-cutters/

Number of words: 4905


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