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We Use Way Too Many Fonts
In 1965, Vignelli became co-founder and design director of Unimark International Corporation. With Lella Vignelli, he established the offices of Vignelli Associates in 1971, and Vignelli Designs in 1978. His work includes graphic and corporate identity programs, publication designs, architectural graphics, and exhibition, interior, furniture, and consumer product designs for many leading American and European companies and institutions.
Vignelli has had his work published and exhibited throughout the world and entered in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. He is a past president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGl) and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AlGA), a vice president of the Architectural League, and a member of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). His many awards and honors include the AIGA Gold Medal, the Presidential Design Award, and the National Arts Club Gold Medal for Design.
Question: Why have you argued against the proliferation of new fonts?
Massimo Vignelli: Well you know, you have to know a little bit more about the history of typography, or type, and how it came about. You know, it was invented at the end of the 1400’s, you know, the Guttenbergs, so to speak, and then for 200 or 300 years, it went with very few different type faces. You know, very elegant, and that’s it. Some publisher had the type and printer and publisher was all one thing. And there were very few also because it was very difficult to cut type, you know, it was cut by hand and not tools besides the chisels, so to speak, and the type was this small, so it was a very refined kind of operation to do. And because it was refined, it was quite elegant. There was no room for vulgarity to get into it. So, the basic typefaces done in those years like Garamond, like Baskerville and so on. They were quite elegant—very elegant, actually, typefaces.
Then the Industrial Revolution comes about and then you can do the type in an industrial way and with the help of machines, and so on and so forth. And then because you could do it, people start to do it. The foundry started to do more type and therefore they had to sell it, to offer it. And they found the right victim in the advertising people, which they thought that they should use a different typeface for every different client. They should not have two clients with the same type. God. And so that went on and on and that became a business just wallpapers, you know, it became a business to make typefaces. And then because of that, you’ve got typeface designers, people who got into the business, they like it and the create nonsense type, things that were totally useless and things of that nature and on and on and on and on.
And so eventually, you understand, that the reason that there are a lot of typefaces is just because there’s a business, not a need. So, you begin to sift, sift, sift, sift, and you begin sifting to see which one are appropriate for one use or another and basically, as you know, the typefaces are divided into two categories, which are called serif, the one with the feet, and sans serif without the feet, the straight one. And between one family and the other family you begin to pick out the best, and at the end when you pick out the best, you wind up with about a half a dozen, or a little more of typefaces. And those are good, those are good for everything. Each one of those families are very large, you know, so they are of the same typeface you have are very thin or very big, they are straight or italic, which inclined, and things like that. So yes, there are only a good maybe a dozen. I’m very generous today since I think they – but there’s no more than a dozen, actually I don’t use much many more than three or four in my life. That is the thing.
However, exceptionally sometime I might use some other too. But not really much more than that a dozen of good typefaces and the rest you can really trash it from a design point of view. However, it’s a business that keeps a lot of people alive and what do you want to do, what would they do otherwise? So, let them do type if they like it. The only thing that is important to understand is when to use it and when not to use it, or what to use. And a good designer can come to it, you know. And they can really very well along with a few typefaces. Every good designer doesn’t use more than a few typefaces and when they’re less good, the number increase. And if they’re worse, then use all of them.
Question: Having starred in the documentary “Helvetica,” were you surprised by its success?
Massimo Vignelli: Yeah, definitely, I was surprised and very, very, very pleased too. But it’s incredible by how many people really liked the movie. People that had nothing to do with design, and how useful it has been. You have no idea the amount of people that mentioned this movie to me, everywhere in the world. I got email from everywhere in the world talking about it. I don’t say many things.
In the disc, if you get the disc, at the end there are extras, which are better then the whole movie, really. It was terrific. So, if you get the disc is fun. Any how, what is clear you see, Helvetica was born in 1957, around that time, you know, 1955, for the very precise reason I remember, before Helvetica, I was using similar typefaces and cutting together close, because we like the type to be closed. But typefaces, they came with shoulders at that time, and the great invention of Helvetica was to be make the shoulder very, very tight so you could put the type – and it’s the only type that had that, that’s why.
When we had that type that we could do that; that was B.C., Before Computer. Now with computer, you can even do that. You can do anything. But at the time, it had to be done by cutting. And so I lost a lot of type ****, a lot of letters by cutting and gluing and so on. But when Helvetica came about, that could be done fine and that is why it was so successful. And I started to use it and use it and the more you use it the more you learn how to use it, it’s just like a piano, the more you play it, the more you learn how to play it and the better player you become. And so it is with the type. And it is a great typeface, it will last forever. You know, there are others, some people like other variations of it. I’m happy with it. And I think it will last hundreds of years, you know. And there are people will write with this. Along with the ... along with the Garamond, along with the few of the great classic typefaces. And that’s it, until we [stop writing] those faces will be around, I guess.
The celebrated designer discusses the history of typography, the popularity of the film "Helvetica," and why there are only a dozen good fonts in the world.
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".