Olympic Typography Article

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frank U. Finkelstein's picture

I was hoping this article was going to be an exposé showing that "2012 Headline" was a weak knock-off of a mid-1980s Neville Brody design. Too bad no one has found the proof yet.

— F.U. Finkelstein

hrant's picture

I'm finishing up my "2012 Headline" article (really short version, FYI: "I like it." :-) so if you have a Brody font in mind please point it out. I'd also like to know why you seem so eager to see 2012 Headline discredited. Is it because you admire Brody, or something else?

hhp

Frank U. Finkelstein's picture

I’m just being Frank.

Frankly the typeface isn’t as nicely stylized as Brody’s, but reminiscent of work he was doing thirty years ago. The 2012 London Olympic typeface is functional, and might look great for labeling an electrical box, but I find its use for the Olympics questionable. I’m not familiar with British culture, but wondering if the type design for this monumental occasion is an accurate representation of what Great Britain is all about — regimented, stiff and overly restrained.

I don’t find it to be a bad typeface design, but a bad choice for the Olympics. Perhaps your article will discuss the context of this particular type design.

— F.U. Finkelstein

hrant's picture

Thanks for the elaboration. I think you'll enjoy the article.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

Frank, I suspect you’re using “Brody” as generic shorthand to reference the formal experimentation of twenty odd years ago.
I don’t recall anything like Gareth Hague’s 2012 face from back then, certainly not by Neville Brody.
Sure there were some exotic boxy fonts by Kisman, Licko, di Sciullo, eboy, &c., but nothing based on the concept of rotated slant.
The way that Hague has used rotation to give formal structure to a typeface complementing the wayward angularity of the Olympic logo is a brilliant concept.

Frank U. Finkelstein's picture

Is the rotation more than a simple twist to hundreds of years of italic design? Is it really brilliant? It’s a nice twist, but just a twist, not a leap. Looking forward to Hrant’s enlightenment on this font.

And I’m not using “Brody” as shorthand for anything other than Neville Brody’s heavily geometric work in the early 1980s, not necessarily boxy, but the same solid, even stroke with the same stroke proportion. To me the roots of both the logo design and typeface go back to Brody’s new wave work back then, but lacking a new millennium sense of global appeal.

As I mentioned before, the type has plenty of functional qualities, but is in no way a monumental type design. I don’t see it in future text books as a Helvetica, but maybe a Hobo.

Nick Shinn's picture

Is the rotation more than a simple twist to hundreds of years of italic design? Is it really brilliant?

In the way that it complements the logo, yes.
I say that from the perspective of wondering what I would have done had I been tasked with designing a typeface to go with the logo.
I don’t think contemplating any of Neville Brody’s type designs would have pointed in the direction of Hague’s solution.

In general, the bit of history that concerns “rotated italics” does not lead directly to the 2012 face.
Here is some recent discussion:

http://typophile.com/node/74092
http://commercialtype.com/typefaces/platform

BTW, I caught a glimpse of Kobe Bryant in the crowd, wearing a shirt with a monogram that looked like his name mimicking the Olympic logo. Was that real or just my imagination?

vernon adams's picture

Could you please leave Neville Brody out of the Olympics. Thanks.

Frank U. Finkelstein's picture

>I say that from the perspective of wondering what I would have done...

I do have compassion for Gareth Hague for not only having to harmonize with that discordant logo, but also surely being stuck in a dreadful design committee of the same group responsible for it. I think he perhaps did well considering that, but greatness is what was called for on this monumental, global occasion. I don’t see greatness.

The Brody connection is there for me more than other influences.

History will show the final verdict on this typeface. We will see.

>Could you please leave Neville Brody out of the Olympics.

Yeah. Sure. Whatever.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Honestly since it seems literally everybody in the world hates it, I think it will become one of the most famous fonts ever, right up there with Helvetica and Times. Does anybody know what the EULA is on this? I thought I read he was giving it away to the world for free.

hrant's picture

No, he's not even allowed to give a copy to somebody writing an article about it...

hhp

HVB's picture

I heard that 2012-Headline is distributed (accidentally?) with at least one official IOC mobile (iOS) app.

vernon adams's picture
Could you please leave Neville Brody out of the Olympics.

Yeah. Sure. Whatever.

Sorry, didn't mean to sound dictatorial, just anticipating the coolBritannia-fest of the closing ceremony. Seems like even scooter boys have been appropriated into BrandGB™ now.

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