10 Typefaces Every Graphic Designer Should Have

A common practice for many newbie graphic designers is to use the coolest, newest typefaces available in their work. Just like fashion there are certain type styles that will come and go. Over time I have learned, that in most cases, your designs will be stronger if you choose to stick with a more versatile workhorse type style.
Truly learning the ins and outs of your basic font library will allow you to pick your type quickly and create the right look for your designs. Find out what attitude your typeface conveys subliminally, figure out the visual weight it adds to a page and how the font family fits together. How does the bold relate to the roman, the black weight, or the italic?

That being said here is my top 10 list of workhorse typefaces every graphic designer should have:

1. Adobe Garamond Pro
A true classic, this font is a great for body text and has a beautiful italic. The pro family offers ligatures and old style numbering for true versatility.

2. Helvetica Neue
This sans serif font family offers condensed and extended weights. Great for simple headlines and body text. Can create a modern look, a sporty look, or just plain legibility.

3. Bodoni
The archetypical Neo Classical serif font creates a modern look. Use it for headlines to convey elegance, luxury, fashion. The italic weight is really quite decorative in a simple way.

4. Gill Sans
This sans-serif has the legibility of a serif. In its lighter weights Gill Sans seems friendly and is per­fect for body text. The bolder weights are per­fect for dis­play type or type you really need to emphasize.

5. Optima
This humanist sans-serif typeface can be used in display sizes or lengthy texts with affecting readability. Widely used in advertising for display and text lines as well as being used in brochures, catalogues and magazines.

6. Meta
Meta is a highly legible sans-serif humanist typeface. It is perfect for signage and copy. Feels like Helvetica but with an updated look.

7. Rotis
Rotis is a highly unified yet varied typeface family that ranges from full serif, glyphic, and sans-serif. This family is definitely worth your while.

8. Century
Century offers a timeless feel. Featuring clear and crisp serifs this typeface is highly versatile.

9. Bickham Script
Beautiful and flowing, this typeface has endless swashes and flourishes. For a script this typeface is legible too.

10. Mrs. Eaves
Refined alternative to Baskerville, this typefaces has a beautiful italic that is great for displays or body text.


It Will Be Okay : Creative Block

Over the years in the graphic design field I have learned that no matter what project or looming deadline to be met, at the end of the day, you will get through it. As long as you are giving a full effort, everything will come together. You will get through your creative block, your brain will work it out. You will get the Eureka moment when everything just works. It will be okay.

There are times when I get blocked. My brain has the idea but putting the design on paper does not translate from the vision in my head. So I move on. By working on multiple projects the brain has a chance to focus on something new. This will usually translate back to the project you are experiencing a block. It is amazing how the brain works.

I will try designing with music, without interruptions. Music calms the soul and a stream of consciousness starts to happen. The brain designs behind the scenes. Going through magazines and books and photos triggers your brain to go in an even better direction. Browsing websites with visual stimuli or a word gets your mind brainstorming. Talking about your design with another person leads to that magic moment when you know exactly what you need to do to tie everything together.

Creative block is one of the challenges of being a designer. The key is training your brain to get past it. Keeping your brain receptive, and not stressing, will give you the results. The outcome may even exceed your expectations. It will be okay.  

It may even be your best work yet.


10 Accomplishments & 20 Goals At 30

After much reflection earlier this year of my life, today marks the next decade of my life. It has been a bit of a struggle with questions about taking the right road and my accomplishments. Today I am inspired again to create and establish personal goals entering my 30s.

So what exactly have I accomplished?
  1. I have paid off all my personal long-term debts (excluding mortgage).
  2. I love our house and it has been a great investment.
  3. I have worked in the graphic design field full-time for 9 years and still love it.
  4. I am managing a staff of 5 designers, 1 writer, 2 print production operators and am still inspired to design.
  5. I have traveled to Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and New York.
  6. I have found my fiance who has loved me and put up with me and cooked for me and improved the house during this adventure in my career for 8 years.
  7. I graduated from college, worked as a web designer, print designer, product designer, senior graphic designer, art production manager.
  8. I am self-sufficient and independent.
  9. I have discovered I have a green thumb and can actually grow a garden.
  10. I created my personal blog (20at30.com) as a creative space for me to record inspiration.
What are my goals to accomplish by my next birthday?
  1. Publish a printed book for my portfolio documenting my process in industrial design.
  2. Plan a trip to San Fransisco with my best friend and take lots of pictures.
  3. Set a wedding date and plan a destination wedding.
  4. Take one photo a day for 365 days.
  5. Gather up my recipe box so I can actually do some cooking.
  6. Redesign the master bedroom complete with a closet organizer, custom artwork, new furniture.
  7. Re-establish my relationship with my parents and re-connect with the farm.
  8. Join a photography club.
  9. Stay inspired in design, photography, typography.
  10. Learn how to relax and take some deep breaths.
  11. Learn how to balance management with being able to design during working hours.
  12. Keep my freelance work up with sjjdesign.
  13. Connect with more designers and artists who have a passion about their work.
  14. Reconnect with old friends and find more couples to hang out with.
  15. Go to more concerts and plays and movies to stay inspired.
  16. Do more drawing and watercolor painting.
  17. Learn how to play the guitar.
  18. Keep up my blog posts with creative and original content.
  19. Decide if I want to have a family.
  20. Feel happy about my life and my accomplishments.


I Am Getting The Hang Of Blogging

In my second attempt to blog with my recent 20at30.com I feel like I have gained momentum and will be able to keep this going. This is a real accomplishment for me and my goal is to have a regular post ever 4 days.

Here's why I believe my blogging will work this time:
  • I am treating 20at30 like a true creative space not tied into my freelance brand. As a result I feel like I can truly use it as a creative outlet away from my full-time job. This will keep my posts fresh and flexible and interesting.

  • Recently I have been following hundreds of blogs dealing with design, weddings, typography, local, interior design and have studied what I like about them.

  • I am recording notes about post ideas so I can plan in advance the direction of my articles.

  • I really want to connect with other creatives and a blog with original thoughts on creativity and design will allow me to share.
Wish me luck. Any comments, suggestions, ideas would be greatly appreciated!


Design Quote Poster #1

"Your best work is your expression of yourself. Now, you may not be the greatest at it, but when you do it, you're the only expert." - Frank Gehry


Janke 100 Years

Two thousand and ten marks one hundred years since my family's immigration from Bessarabia, Russia to Alberta, Canada and the original homestead which I grew up on.

My contribution to the event is the creation of a slideshow showcasing family photographs of Reinhold Janke Sr. (my great grandfather) and family who established the homestead in 1910. My grandfather Reinhold Janke Jr. was the third youngest boy in a family of five children.

As a result of the slideshow I also developed a logo. The Janke logo incorporates a handwritten specimen I found on the back of one of the family photographs with a aged type style to reinforce the western history.

In digitizing the family photographs I have come across some interesting ones. I love vintage photography but these photos have a special meaning knowing that they are connected to my family. Below are some that I would like to share.

My Grampa's Bicycle - 
My grandfather was so proud of his bike it deserved its own photo.

Grampa in Chaps -
My grandfather looks straight out of the original black and white western movies.

Line of Model T Fords -
I love this photograph showcasing this versatile vehicle of the time.

Bear With Man -
The man in the photograph has been identified as either my grampa or my great uncles so this craziness might run in my genes.


Inspiring Lyrics : Asleep On A Sunbeam

In my quest to find lyrics to match "grass beneath my feet" I came across this happy song - Asleep On A Sunbeam. It reminds me of those perfect days where I can take a break from work and actually relax. To get away from the city and my computer and go out camping in the fresh air.
When the half light makes for a clearer view
Sleep a little more if you want to
But restlessness has seized me now, it’s true
I could watch the dreams flicker in your eyes
Lying here asleep on a sunbeam
I wonder if you realise you fascinate me so

Think about a new destination
If you think you need inspiration
Roll out the map and mark it with a pin
I will follow every direction
Just lace up your shoes while I’m fetching a sleeping bag, a tent...
Another summer’s passing by
All I need is somewhere I feel the grass beneath my feet
A walk on sand, a fire I can warm my hands
My joy will be complete

I thought about a new destination
I’m never short of new inspiration
Roll out the map and mark it with a gin
Made my plans to conquer the country
I’m waiting for you to get out of your situation
With your job and with your life

All I need is somewhere I feel the grass beneath my feet
A walk on sand
A fire, I can warm my hands
My joy will be complete
Belle & Sebastian - Asleep on a Sunbeam


Back To Basics : The Anatomy of Type

In order to be a good graphic designer you need to understand how type works. By truly understanding the basics you can use this knowledge to make your designs effective. Type is essential. Type communicates and makes your designs speak.
The first fundamental of typography is knowing the anatomy of letter forms. This is tremendously valuable when communicating with other designers or trying to hunt down that perfect font for your design. By knowing the bits and pieces of type it is easier to understand why type looks good or why type looks like an eye-sore. It can truly make or break your design. While these terms won't tell you what makes a typeface good, they will at least give you the right words to use when you discuss the particular benefits of a particular face over another.

Here is a list of definitions of the most important parts of letter forms:

BASELINE : where all the letters sit. This is the most stable axis along a line of text, and it is a crucial edge for aligning text with images or with other text. The curves at the bottom of letters such as o or e hang slightly below the baseline. Commas and semicolons also cross the baseline.

X-HEIGHT : the height of the main body of the lowercase letter (or the height of a lowercase x) excluding its ascenders and descenders

CAP HEIGHT : the distance from the baseline to the top of capital letter. The cap height of a typeface determines its point size.

ASCENDER : The part of some lowercase letters (such as b, h or d) which ascends above than the x-height

DESCENDER : The part of some lowercase letters (such as y, p or q) that descends below the baseline. In some typefaces, even uppercase letters like J or Q may descend below the baseline

SERIF :  Small, finishing strokes on the arms, stems and tails of characters

So now have fun and practice. You can now say "We need to supersize that x-height" or "These descenders just don't work for me" and actually know what you are talking about.


  © 2010 Design by Stephanie Janke - sjjdesign.com

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