On Buying Fonts
Print in the Digital Age
Any time I mention wanting to buy fonts or suggest that I've spent money on design resources in general, I'm met with disbelief and informed that I can get such things online for free. It's true. If you know where to look, you can find most things for free on the internet—software, movies, music, fonts—but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. There are of course plenty of fonts that come licensed for free, but as a rule, they're not much good beyond the occasional display type, and generally about as useful as their price indicates.
I've always been a strong believer that you get what you pay for. If you get a free font, you can't expect it to be particularly well designed. It won't be as reliable as a typeface carefully crafted by an experienced type designer. The thing about well designed typefaces is that they tend to be very costly. I don't think their pricing is excessively high, considering the amount of work that goes into designing them, but the cost can be prohibitively high for young designers.
Once a designer, always a designer
For most of my life I've been dead set on being a print designer. I've been told for years print was going the way of the 8-track, but I'm attached to it and somehow don't find it plausible that it could disappear completely in the next few years.
What I love about print is the tactility of it—something that can't be replicated on screen, no matter how many advances we make in resolution or user interface design. The end of print would mean the end of physical artifacts, which I think we're more attached to than we let on.
The Internet Stampede
In retrospect, my type choices as a kid were terrible. I suppose I can't fault my six-year-old self for using Comic Sans since it's a kid typeface and I was a kid. What's striking about those choices, however, is that I made them at all—that I cared which typeface I used, considered hierarchy, or thought about design. In elementary school spent hours at our HP desktop designing my own "magazines" in Print Shop. In middle school I would retype worksheets, setting the questions in the same typeface that the teacher used, but putting my answers in a font that resembled handwriting. You know, for clarity.
I remember once arriving to school early the day of the presentation and asking my friend Elizabeth if her poster was set in Trebuchet MS (it was, but neither of us could pronounce it). For years we had this strange ritual of trying to identify each other's typefaces. Of course the only fonts either of us had at our disposal were those available in Windows, which made the guessing pool significantly smaller than it might be otherwise. Both of us downloaded free fonts from the web occasionally, but generally had the good sense not to use them for body text.
Not a conservative, just a conservatism enthusiast
I’m sometimes torn between the speed of the future and the slowness of the past. It seems to be a recurring cycle of excitement about the possibilities of new technology and anxiety that this new technology will imperil the old. In middle school I spent an odd amount of time fretting that SMS and instant messaging would lead to the destruction of the English language, while simultaneously spending hours on AOL Instant Messenger and begging my parents for a cell phone so that I could text during the few hours I was away from my computer.
These days, now that some years have passed and everyone I interact with uses full sentences in their online and mobile communication, I’m a bit less concerned about the threat that new technologies pose to English grammar. But even as I rely more and more on new technologies, I have a nagging feeling that I’m moving too quickly and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Susan Mikula fights the future
Everyone has their reasons for thinking they way they do and supporting the policies they support. Sometimes the reasons are obvious, sometimes obscure, sometimes rational, sometimes not, but the bottom line is that they always exist. And I find it useful to try to understand people’s reasons for doing things before I dismiss them as purely being jerks and life ruiners.
To be honest, I’ll probably still think they’re jerks and life ruiners after I understand their reasoning, but at least I’ll have a better idea of how to engage them about it. I suppose if you don’t care to engage with anyone who doesn’t share your point of view, you also don’t care to hear about their reasoning. That’s a sentiment I’ve found quite a bit since moving to Western Mass., and it makes me completely crazy — especially on a college campus.
Stomp & Holler: My internal conflict about marches and protests
About a month ago I went to my first art opening since leaving Memphis and, as usual, I have been extra slow to write a post about it. The show was called “desidero” by photographer Susan Mikula. I discovered her work a few years ago through her partner Rachel Maddow (and I actually heard about the opening by way of a Maddow tweet the day before). If you know anything about me, you know Rachel Maddow is kind of my hero. As I was thinking about the opening, it did occur to me that I might get to meet her (which I did), but I was way more nervous about the possibility of meeting Susan and overwhelmed by my excitement to see her work in person.
The Mystery of the Airport Bathroom
Yesterday I went to an event in Northampton, Mass. called Stomp & Holler, which started out as a SlutWalk and then (intentionally or not) took on some sentiments of Occupy Wall Street. I will admit that I almost didn't go -- and if they hadn't changed the name from SlutWalk to Stomp & Holler I probably would have stayed home.
The absence of slavery from the South's collective consciousness
Airport bathrooms sometimes bewilder me. The idea of automatic equipment in public bathrooms is a good one; Automatic faucets save water by turning off immediately when not in use and they don’t require users to touch germ-covered knobs after washing their hands. Automatic toilets similarly liberate users from coming in contact with the extremely unclean flush handles of traditional toilets.
While these two innovations seem like positive steps toward conservation of resources and preventing the spread of germs, I have noticed an interesting trend in these high-tech bathrooms: most seem to be equipped with non-automatic paper towel dispensers
Mississippi would not be my number one choice for a tourist destination, but I once had the unfortunate experience of being a tourist there. By that I mean that my parents and I went to a cotton museum somewhere in the Delta. You would think this would be a pretty predictable place: exhibits about planting, harvesting, the invention of the cotton gin, cotton's role in the economy, all fairly self-explanatory. It did some of those things in an awkwardly elementary and somewhat disorganized fashion, but it also missed something very important. After going through the entire museum we realized there was no mention of, depiction of, or allusion to slavery or even African-Americans. Whoops!