The typography in Jon Deviny’s Reimagine Haiti advertisement immediately drew me in. The way the letters wrap around––almost seeming to embrace the image of the man is gorgeous. Love it.
With my non-designer, beginner’s eye, I will attempt to reverse engineer Mr. Deviny’s use of typography.
Right away we notice that Mr. Deviny has created instant appeal by using a combination of three contrasting typefaces. A Decorative typeface with a bit of a Slab Serif/feel, a Sans Serif typeface, and a Script (hand-lettered) typeface.
Focusing on the first typeface, how do we identify it as Decorative? First of all, it’s very distinctive. Although it’s beautiful, we wouldn’t want to read a 300-page novel that used only this typeface. It has a ‘Slab Serif’ feel because of the horizontal serifs, along with almost no thick-to-thin transition in the letter strokes. But then, when you look a little closer at the serifs (serifs are the little flag-type tic on the end of letters), this typeface uses a mix of curved bracketing and/or no bracketing. The last reason I thought to classify this typeface as Decorative was the use of triangles on the letters.
How do we know the second typeface is Sans Serif? The word “sans” means “without” (in French), and the second typeface does not have serifs. There are also no thick-to-thin transitions on the strokes. Each letter has the same thickness all around.
For the third and final typeface, how do we identify it as Script? The easiest way to determine if a typeface is a Script-style face is when it appears to have been hand-lettered. Recently I read the book, The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams. When she describes using Script typefaces she cautions:
“Scripts are like cheesecake––they should be used sparingly so nobody gets sick.”
And, of course, Williams reminds us that we should never use Script typefaces in all caps.
The typefaces in this ad are wonderfully contrasted. What makes the typefaces contrast? To answer this question, I’ve focused on the letter, “I” in each of the three fonts.
In the Decorative typeface, the “I” is set to a much larger size than the other two fonts. It also has a bit more weight because it’s structured with thick strokes. The decorative typeface is also set in a slightly different direction, slanting upwards, which gives it great positive energy.
The Sans Serif typeface “I” is much smaller but still large enough to be seen, especially with the use of all caps. This typeface is very clean compared to the larger, Decorative face. Also notice that the letters in the word, “Haiti” were spaced out without increasing the font size.
Compared to the Decorative and Sans Serif typefaces, the “I” in the Script typeface is set at a very small size and placed at the bottom of the ad. Because of the page alignment and use of color, our eyes are still drawn to the web address: reimaginehaiti.com even though the typeface is different than the other two.
How typography is used can truly make a difference in how we read and interpret the feel of an advertisement. This advertisement was beautifully done. The contrast is stellar!