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Slanted - Geometrics Porn

631 words on

Cover of Slanted Geometrics Porn magazine The latest issue, #7, of the graphical Slanted deals with ‘geometric’ typefaces and goes by the wonderful name geometrics porn.

As usual the magazine is very nicely made, with a lot of care having gone into details like creating a cover that’s card-boardish on the inside, grease attracting black on the outside and has embossed silver letters. But you don’t actually see that as the magazine is wrapped into a protective cover which is actually a fold out poster in bright orange and black.

Poster the Slanted Geometrics Porn magazine is wrapped in.

The only things that look crap in the magazine are the (few) four colour ads which are completely at odds with the otherwise monochromatic or at least carefully colour coordinated magazine. Another thing that irritated me is their layout with two columns of different widths. While that works well on pages with little text where the wide column is only used for a heading, it is very irritating to read in longer articles as the different look suggests a difference of the text in them - even though the text is just flowing on to the next column.

The magazines topic, so-called ‘geometric’ fonts is a difficult one. Of course I loved ‘geometric’ letterforms myself when I was young, mainly because they are easy to create even for my graphically unskilled self. But soon I learned that a good and readable typeface requires more than just a clever pattern of repeated elements. And most ‘geometric’ typefaces suffer from this. Of course they may say they ‘thrive’ from it, and it may be fun to reduce your tools to a simple set of geometric patterns and construct a typeface from them. Yet, the result of such experiments hardly ever seems worthwhile for me.

In particular the countless ‘geometric’ fonts which are almost unreadable (the magazine’s focus on the word ‘porn’ could be considered a wise decision, taking into account that anything beyond a four letter word may be impossible to read in a ‘geometric’ font) make me wonder whether they can actually be used for anything in practice: You better have something very important to say if I’m supposed to fight myself through the typography to find out what it is. And if you have something of such utmost importance to say, then perhaps you better write it in a readable way, so more people can learn about it.

Sample of the font Milford n the magazine

That is not to say that all ‘geometric’ typefaces are worthless. If you need to write ‘PORN’ on a large sheet of paper, they may do the job just fine and if you have the somewhat less ‘geometric’ but more carefully designed ones like Futura you can even end up with something readable while keeping the ‘geometric’ and futuristic touch.

Of the many typefaces shown in the magazine, I thought Milford was quite sweet. Not only because it seems surprisingly readable compared to the other fonts presented but also because letters look like tiny Pac Mans. I thought the Bartok typeface looked quite interesting as well, with distortions of the characters by diagonals coming in different ‘weights’, but it seems that the quality of its look is closely linked to the words used.

Bartok typeface as presented in the magazine.

A final thing that keeps annoying me about this topic is how clueless graphics people seem to be about geometry. For most of them the issue seems fully covered by straight lines and circles and perhaps a reflection. There also seems to be the implicit understanding that geometry has to be stale, boring and that possibly its vicinity to mathematics - rather than the designer being a lazy or bad at his job - is the reason why fonts don’t look or work well. I consider that unfair and I wonder whether it couldn’t be fruitful if designers opened their mind a little on this.

April 20, 2009, 16:24

Tagged as geometry, magazine, porn, slanted.

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