The Big Valley of curly type

Nothing says fun like Helvetica

Doyald Young inscribed one of his books to me with this phrase, “To Sean, a friend, classicist, and typophile.” I take this is a compliment. I hope Doyald didn’t mean classicist as a bad sense of class distinctions. Perhaps at his dinner, I shouldn’t have insisted his maid not look me in the eye. I appreciate this compliment, and consider myself fairly traditional typographically. I have friends who have taken their children to some of Paris, London, and Rome for cultural education. They visit the Louvre; take classes in pasta making, and tour private collections. I’d like to say I did the same, hence my refined sense of classical typography. But my cultural influences were born in a small cow town in northern Nevada, and a ranch with endless volumes of National Geographic and Nevada magazine.

As I grew older, I went through that bad phase, when I rejected all of that. I moved to New York, only used a handful of classic fonts, the finest papers, and sat at only the right dinner parties. Dumb. I know now that the best dinner parties are the wrong kind of dinner parties. What fun is it until someone is in tears, something breaks, or a fight starts? And I rediscovered my low-end cultural influences. Curly type, bad silhouettes, odd western typefaces, and terrible photography are much more fun.

Energy makes the world go around

a fine piece of information graphics, 1970

groovy Los Alamos logo, 1971

More curly type is never enough, 1971

Curly type detail

More curly type, whoo hoo

Wonderful typography, odd meaningless photo, 1970

Harvey's ad, much like Small World ad, 1969

It's a Small World record, 1964

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One Response to “The Big Valley of curly type”

  1. Stan Byers Says:

    Sean,
    Thanks for the cool (or not so cool) Reno post. Even today, we are still wading our way through the curly queues and swollen serifs:
    http://aiga-typewalk.eventbrite.com/