Ethnicity and Type

debhall's picture

I am interested in working on a collaborative project with Fred Wilson (http://tang.skidmore.edu/tang/news_and_information/wilson.htm) and my students on ethnicity and type?
Does anyone know of any articles or essays on this topic? Any appropriate typefaces or photos you would care to recommend for inclusion in our research?

Thanks for any help

hrant's picture

I'd say take a look at the work of Saki Mufundikwa as well as I-jusi magazine. Then there's this: http://www.buildingletters.org/

hhp

debhall's picture

I've decided that I haven't been clear enough about my request for feedback. The project is open somewhat, but we are interested in how individuals choose typefaces to portray ethnicity (i.e.the chinese restaurant) and the stereotyping that ensues from such choices. Which typefaces are particularly prone to stereotyping, why are they created and who uses them? There are often questions on this forum about choosing typefaces for a particular ethnic or historical usage..what is your favorite-or most despised?
I didn't want to be too specific becuase we are open to seeing where the discussion leads.

Thanks for any info...

Deb

hrant's picture

One thing to realize is that the propensity for stereotypification (? :-) of a font seems to be proportional to its inappropriateness for setting long text. The more literalyl evocative a font (like that "chop suey" abomination), the more laymen will be attracted to using it prominently.

Most despised? My kind of angle! :-)
I have to say I hate seeing Lithos used for conveying "primitive". Koch's Neuland (which by all accounts was conceived as a Teutonic font) is [also] used a lot for African "atmosphere", but for some reason that seems to make sense to me. Maybe it's because I like Neuland while I can't stand Lithos. People should really start using Skia (more intelligently) instead.

BTW, trivia question: what's a font that's a cross between Skia and Copperplate?
(Paul Hunt: you can't participate in this one! :-)

hhp

keith_tam's picture

> Matthew Carter's Sophia?

hrant's picture

Good guess! But the answer (or at least my answer) is even more "literal" than that, I think.

Hint: Interestingly, the font in my mind originated geographically approximately between Greece and the UK!

hhp

eomine's picture

Frantisek Storm's Solpera.

hrant's picture

Bingo! (The original by Jan Solpera.)

hhp

hrant's picture

> how would you convey Far Eastern culture

To some extent I think it's just a matter of subtlety. The tricks in Kanban might actually work OK if they were 90% more subtle. For example two fonts that seem nicely Far Eastern to me are Hiroshige and Octavian's Italic.

(BTW, Yves, it's great to see you spending some time outside of the ID forum.)

hhp

Bald Condensed's picture

Choosing typefaces to portray ethnicity without ending
up in stereotypes must be one of the toughest jobs ever.
This reminds me of this thread in the Type Identification
Board where a designer had adapted a "generic" typeface
(TheSans, no offense Luc(as) :-) ) to convey "Irishness".

Whereas at first I was a bit taken aback by the concept
of "maiming" a typeface in order to achieve this effect,
after a while I started to see the merits of such a solution.
It allows you to refer to, without resorting to the obvious
stereotypes.

Bald Condensed's picture

We all know that for example this is very wrong, but how
would you convey Far Eastern culture by using solely
typographic elements? (No, a red circle doesn't count :-) )

Bald Condensed's picture

Don't tell my wife...

I was thinking more along the lines of getting your
inspiration from other fields, like architecture or
so. When you look at the "typical" (again, this might
be a stereotype on itself :-) ) Japanese white walls
in black frames, this is something that could be
translated to choice of typeface and composition.

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