Leslie Cabarga has been a working illustrator and designer since 1970. He has authored over two dozen books on design, and as an illustrator he has drawn covers for Time Magazine, Newsweek, Fortune, and National Lampoon. He's designed several dozen fonts (which we'll show you later) and his latest books are the Logo Font & Lettering Bible, Learn FontLab Fast, and The Designer's Guide to Color Combinations.
Ladies and gentlemen we are honored to present this brief chat with the Logo, Font and Lettering wizard himself... Leslie Cabarga
Of Type & Lettering
with Leslie Cabarga
Leslie, we welcome you to the pages of DTG, and thank you for taking time to chat with us. Leslie, if it's okay with you, I've gathered some questions from some of the subscribers to our discussion list, The Design Cafe, and I'd like to get your insights into these frequent questions.
Leslie: Thanks, Fred! It's alwyas a pleasure to get out and meet with people anytime the topic of typography comes up. Sure - let's go...
DT&G Every designer is faced with making decisions -- and we quite frequently hear the questions: "Which typeface should I use?" And, as expected, every designer who answers that question has a different solution. In the Logo, Font & Lettering Bible (LFLB), you show so many (maybe hundreds?) wonderful type solutions, either by yourself or by others, except there's seldom any hint as to why this or that font was selected for the logo or typograph.
How do you select the font and style to use?
Leslie: Well, Fred, I rely on three main reasons for selecting one typeface over another.
1. Appropriateness: If the design is to have a feminine appeal, you would not want to use Arial Black as the font. If the design has a period feel, you can choose between fonts appropriate to that era. If it's a very modern ad, naturally you'd want to choose some current-looking fonts.
2. Gut instinct: That says it all. It's great when you get a call to design something and almost immediately you visualize the entire piece along with the style of type.
Of course, the client often doesn't share your vision, in which case you may need to run various fonts by the client.
3. Availability: Often the fonts I use are the ones on my desktop because that's easiest. Or you'll select a font that's become popular and you're seeing it everywhere.
But the point that my LFLB book makes is that you can design and/or tweak your own fonts to come up with exactly what you want instead of relying on OPF (Other People's Fonts).
It's like, when I try to choose a Pantone color--there's never exactly what I want so I tell the printer "between this color and that one." So instead of settling for a font, what I do is I envision the piece exactly how I want it and then I draw the lettering custom. Or I may start with a font then tweak it.
DT&G Excellent! Now, in the age old argument about using the same faces together as opposed to a sans plus a serif, etc. In the LFLB book you show stunning examples of decorated or "illustrated" typography from such greats as Michael Doret (one of my all time heros), Tom Nikosey and Daniel Pelavin. However their examples often mix families with no apparent reason -- beyond looking fantastic. Sometimes we even see them mixed within the same word... or a sans face with a slight serif added to some letters.
What criteria could you suggest as rules of thumb for mixing serifs and sans-serifs within the same illustrated type layout? And... within the same 'job' like a brochure or stationary kit.
Leslie: In the 1960s they mixed magenta with orange which was shockingly wrong but became shockingly interesting. I would not mix Souvenir or Windsor (with round serifs) with Times Roman or New Century Schoolbook (with squareish serifs), however I can see it done if the sizes were varied enough and if it seemed to be done by someone who was doing it on purpose.
I like bold contrasts: Verdana Bold with Caslon italic, say. Really, if the overall design is done with taste and two clashing fonts are used people will just call you a trend-setter and next month everyone'll be doing it. Again, it's just amatter of feel. Oh yeah, and proportion and balance, which are timeless attributes of good design.
DT&G Those are wonderful examples. Let's continue with just a few more questions, then take a look at some of your fonts....
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