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Design: Type by Tony Seddon, Paul Burgess

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w
o
nalism.
New traditionalism:
Bethany Heck.
The decision to use “vintage” typefaces,
techniques, and aesthetics can come
from a variety of motivations. Designers
tend to be collectors and lovers of
informational miscellany and minutiae,
and vintage type is the perfect outlet to
express those carnal desires in an
effective and acceptable way.
Vintage designs are a celebration of their
times, their economies, and their
progress. They come loaded with history
and meaning and tend to be obtuse in the
way they go about their business. It is
refreshing to look at design that has such
a clear voice when you are searching for
the right direction in your own work. There
is a joy in historical design; A freedom to
use a dozen typefaces in one design, the
eccentricities of a typeface designed on
the fly by a worker in a wood type factory,
and the bold, straightforward language
used to sell a bottle of soda are all
cathartic to us now, free from the burdens
we can feel when doing our own work.
These pieces have a special sense of
emotion, evoking places and moods on
top of their visual aesthetics. Vintage
designs have reminded designers to take
risks, to mix more typefaces and break
more rules.
traditi
o
Ne
w
o
w
It’s easier to separate yourself from
historical design work than that of your
peers. The technology standards and
conventions were vastly different than
they are now, and it enables you to look at
the work objectively and closely study its
formal attributes. The limitations of the
time often forced unique solutions for
dealing with type and composition. Now
that we are separated from the context of
those earlier works, we can look on them
with our own set of tools, rules, and needs
and reconfigure them in fresh ways that
retain the charm of the original while
fulfilling the needs of modern day. The
gaudy, superfluous typefaces of the
Victorian period can be given new life
when put in a controlled setting, and the
surprisingly complicated composition on
a baseball ticket from the 1930s can be
revived with careful typeface selections.
The goal is not rote reproduction of
vintage designs; it is to reimagine them
in a new age.
The right selection of a historically inspired
typeface can bring your work an extra
layer of meaning and importance. Older
designs have an added weight to them,
an importance and meaning that goes
beyond the formal aspects of the face
that comes from decades of use and
exposure. We can connect with a typeface
without knowing why because it
subliminally references the careful craft
of a sign painter or the stylized geometric
shapes of the Art Deco movement.
It’s refreshing to look at a physical object
for a spark instead of a computer screen.
Seeing something physical that’s still
around decades after its creation is an
inspiration in a multitude of ways. It’s
design out of its original context, free from
comparisons of whatever trends were
popular at the time, once again fresh and
new. It’s also a reminder of the importance
and longevity of design. Design can be
timeless, cherished, and treasured, and
that’s an exciting thing to remember.
I think there is more to looking to past
designs than just seeking a spark of visual
stimulation. There is an element of
reverence and respect tied to it as well.
By resurrecting a design element from the
past, you are honoring it and proving that it
was a worthwhile endeavor in a way you
hope your own work will be respected in
the future.
184
185
Traditional:
Type
Extra Credit
Projects:
USA
Project: Chow by the
Tracks P.O.P. poster
campaign. Art Director:
Joshua Best. Client:
Choo Choo Grill.
Fuszion:
USA
Project: The Georgetown
French Market. Art
Directors: Rick Heffner,
Greg Spraker. Designer:
Dan Delli-Colli. Client:
Georgetown (DC)
Business Improvement
District.
186
187
Traditional:
Type
I Love Dust:
UK
Project: I Love Dust meat
packaging promo. Art
Directors: Mark Graham,
Ben Beach. Designer:
I Love Dust. Client: I Love
Dust.

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