New alphabets are constantly being designed for typographic use in printed graphics,
for use on branding and corporate identity. Some
alphabet designers work in both printed graphics and
architectural signing. We have a great
reputation for designing logotypes, alphabets, and
other graphic items.
There are at least 100 adequate typefaces available that, in my mind, meet the criteria for signage programs.
Leading my list is Futura Light which has a warmth and appeal missing
in Helvetica and yet retains an
architectural quality. Architects also have a
strong inclination towards sans serif faces rather
than those with serifs. I myself have used Times
Roman caps effectively for the signage I design and
install. I believe all design solutions stem from the problem to be solved. Preconceived, narrow viewpoints hinder these solutions.
With so many existing alphabets to choose from, it seems only reasonable to avoid designing a new one. However, if a generous budget is available and the client insists on something, quite distinctive, then it should be done—although not all designers are qualified to do alphabet design. It might be well to turn this work over to someone who excels in this area.
When selecting or modifying alphabets for signing, the following questions should be kept in mind:
1. Does the alphabet have the appropriate character for the project?
2. Which weight (regular, light, medium, bold) should be used?
3. Will the alphabet be highly legible when viewed at the distance required? When illuminated at night?
4. If three-dimensional letters are planned for, will both upper- and lowercase versions be easily read when viewed from an angle? Some condensed alphabets may be hard to read in this situation, especially if letter spacing is tight.
5. Is the alphabet compatible with standard
changeable letters, directory copy strips, or vinyl letters of other stock items need for the project?
6. Is the alphabet suitable for all the fabrication techniques planned? For example, if backlighted individual letters are to be fabricated, are the thin strokes wide enough to
signs? In addition, a Roman-style alphabet with sharp serifs cannot be deeply sand-blasted into granite without losing much of its elegance, but it can be hand-carved into metal or slate.
7. Will fabrication of the alphabet be practical, considering
letters may have excessively thin strokes for cutout wood or even metal when fabricated in small sizes. However, script letters can be silk-screened or sand-blasted in small sizes on various materials.
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