Today, we are joined by Caroline Bagley , She is a Graphic Designer. You can view her portfolio here.
What was the first typeface you fell in love with?
I’m trying to think back to beginning to my first days a graphic design student. I would have to say that it was Akzidenz Grotesk. I remember learning abut it pretty early on, and thinking that it was so much cooler than Helvetica. Everyone uses Helvetica, but I remember thinking if I use Akzidenz instead, I’m way cooler than everyone else. I mean, its a beautiful typeface, but it pretty much is Helvetica and you’re getting the same effect as any traditional sans serif such as Universe or Helvetica.
What are some of your proudest projects ever?
What do you think of Apple and their approach to design in general? How does their industrial and web design compare to typeface design?
I think Apple does a lot of things right. I don’t really know how their creative process works in house, but it seems like communication between their employees is stellar. You can’t have a aesthetic that is so universal in every aspect of what they do without good communication. I’ve seen companies screw themselves over so many times because they place unrealistic time limits on projects, and each department works independently of each other, so everything is all over the place. Apple doesn’t necessarily have the best aesthetic or design choices in the world, but they do everything so consistently and uniformly that it doesn’t matter.
As far as their web design, industrial design, and typeface design goes, I think some aspects are really strong and some are safe. Their use of Myriad Light/Helvetica Neue Light is a little dated to me and boring. Their web design powers shine only when you go into specific product pages and you’re scrolling down and they are using all this amazing code to make things interactive and activate as you scroll. But then again, that is kinda old news too since everyone and their mom is ripping them off now. But that’s the trouble with Apple, whatever they do is amazing and groundbreaking, until three months later when everyone is doing it too. Then its boring. Apple has to constantly reinvent themselves to stay relevant.
What was one of the most challenging typography problems you have ever had to solve?
Definitely last semester, when one of my teachers, probably the best teacher I have ever had, told us we could not use any typeface designed before 2004. I remember not being happy for the first project. My type library was filled with everything from the Adobe student type kit, which was just mainly “classics.” So then I had to research. I’ve never really research typefaces/type foundries before. I would see a typeface I liked that someone used and I would ask them what it was. But this lead be to
discover the amazing world of type specimens and smaller foundries that
are producing incredible work. Lineto, Colophon, Hoefler & Frere-Jones (RIP), Optimo, Binnenland, Millieu, Klim, Parachute, Font Bureau, Gestalten, Typotheque, ahhh the list goes on and on. I learned about Prensa, Karloff, National, Calibre, Maison, T-Star, Apercu, Sentinel, Brown, Akkurat, and so many more. But basically, after having a month long panic attack, I am now a better designer. I never want to revert back to the classics just because I don’t know anything else. The world of typefaces in incredibly large, but as a student starting out it seems so small.
Where are some of the areas where typography is improving and where do we need to see more growth?
Everyone (including myself and my classmates) jumps to using a sans serif. Serifs exist! They are amazing and beautiful and wonderful. Use them. Mix them sans serifs. But I feel like the focus in the graphic design world is on sans serifs. Handwriting and mono spaced sans serifs are taking off, but serifs seem to be on the back burner. I know me and my classmates are on
this never ending search for contemporary serifs. But besides that, prices, prices, prices. I can’t afford to buy more than one typeface a year as a student. Most contemporary typefaces are $500+ for the family. This is my call out to the type world, please give student discounts for noncommercial licenses! To large companies and firms, paying $510 for Apercu or $600 for Replica is nothing. But to me, that’s rent or food for two months.
Taking into account small sizes, aliasing and browser font rendering engines, which fonts do you think should be used for body text on the web?
I don’t think it matters between serifs or sans serifs, as long as the width of the letter is consistent. This more or less pertains to serifs, but there are plenty of serifs that have a somewhat uniform stroke width and a decently high x-height. Didot/Bodoni dies on the screen, even in display uses. But something like Burgess would hold up for the most part completely fine. But as a designer, we also have to keep in mind that many typefaces were designed for paper, and for ink to spread on the letters. When using them on the screen, the materiality is gone and instead you have light to deal with. Just only use typefaces on the web that were designed with the web in mind. Just think when you’re designing for the web, would the average person sitting three feet from the screen be able to read it clearly? I think there has been a web trend lately that typography shouldn’t be minuscule. Most websites now are bumping up all the type sizes. A lot of times typeface sizes are reactive to the screen size, which isn’t always a good thing.
What’s the most overrated font in the world?
Let’s talk a little about the creative process and how you work. Can you describe your ideal work environment?
As a student, I like to work at home most of the time, but I often go in studio to interact with my classmates. I find that when a bunch of students work in the same place, it leads to everyone’s projects looking the same. A lot of times, when I’m doing some in a format that is considered traditional,
such as a book or poster, I turn off my internet and stay at home. I know what exists in the design community, but I don’t want to be influenced by that immediately. I like to get at least five rough sketches of ideas out before consulting with classmates. I think my best ideas come from talking about the concept with my classmates and teachers, but executing it in a bubble for the first half of it. I don’t want my idea to become unintentionally muddled with those around me. After the first initial developments, group critique is vital. My ideas and visual explorations of these ideas become so much richer after I have something 100% my own to present, from which others can improve upon. My favorite part about RISD is the critique environment. Very little to no work is done in class. It is all extremely important feedback time. And all my classmates and teachers are brilliant, and I would not be half the designer I am now without their influence.