Off Topic: Ugh
The type on Annie Leibovitz’s new book is total bullsh*t.
Normally I wouldn’t bother with this, but it’s not like a piece of cheap direct mail. It’s a hardcover monograph for a stellar artist and cultural force. If junk design is done for junk, who cares? But Random House and Annie Leibovitz should be in another class. If these folks can’t get their typography to even a basic standard of professionalism, then who will?
Below are a few corrections that I made to the lettering, and I wouldn’t normally’ve done this (much less posted it), except – and here’s the thing – it took me about a half an hour to do. We live in an era free from x-actos and stat cameras and rubber cement and press type. We have infinite x-actos and magical tracing paper and the most perfect duplicating (at least while it’s still virtual) machine yet conceived. To make these corrections takes almost no time, and therefore almost no money.
- The A and N serifs want to be together. That awkward just-wider-than-a-hairline is distracting. Join em! And the inside serif on the A is a horrid stumpy thing – just because whoever digitized it screwed up doesn’t mean you have to live with it.
- Again with the awkward relationship on the T-Z serifs. Fix the letter spacing, then make the serifs relate in some way.
- Another awkward relationship. The serifs want to be holding hands.
- Make the cross bars of the E and B relate better.
- The R and K are right next to each other, again with the cross bars. And good lord is that letter spacing a train wreck.
Side by side:
It’s subtle, but when you even start addressing the letter spacing, the typography begins to coalesce as a single piece of design. And I do mean this is only a start (lord knows letterspacing is subjective and a matter of personal taste).
With that said, why is the type so poorly done? How does a design team this ignorant (they don’t know) or slipshod (they don’t care) get to be in the position to foist this junk on us? I don’t mean to ream whoever the designers were on this (I couldn’t find any info so I’m assuming it’s in-house work), because there’s a larger point: that this is (yet another) crappy thing in life that has absolutely no reason to be crappy. Making it decent would’ve involved, like, 10% more effort than making it lame. But it’s lame. And life* sucks a little more because of it.
*I know it seems like I’m confusing life with design, probably because I’m a designer. But think about how much of our lives, our environment, is designed: all the ads, all the book covers and magazines and type on cars and packaging and blah blah blah. So yeah. Life sucks a little more when the design sucks (especially when it sucks for no reason).