This month’s blog is a contribution from Robin Wasteney, Senior Art Director at Cooper Smith & Company. This month is part two of the two-part series on the fonts she loves. Last month Robin shared her favorite font with us. This month…the fonts she loves to hate!
You can’t be a designer without noticing bad type. It’s everywhere. Many people don’t recognize what the style of a typeface communicates independently of the words it produces. They like how a font looks, so they use it. That’s fine for your email signature (your personal email signature—don’t even get me started!) or a party invitation. But bad type choices are everywhere. And they’re often big. Really big. Like on trucks. And on buildings. And on big, backlit signs.
Being the type geek that I am, I have a growing collection of bad found type. I have photos of signage, printed samples, t-shirts, Pinterest boards, you name it. Most, though not all, involve bad uses of Hobo. (If you’re not familiar, check out a Classic Tan location.) It’s downright addicting to look for it.
Hobo has been around forever (since 1910). It’s is a display font, meaning that it’s meant to be used in small amounts, usually large, rather than paragraphs. It’s also a ‘novelty’ font, meaning its used mostly for fun (and not generally business appropriate). It’s awkward and goofy looking (there are no descenders at all), and it’s hard to miss.
Most recently, I snagged a photo of a heating and cooling company van that had everything from the company name to the phone number set in it. Not the font you want to use if you want people to be able to read your information, let alone think you’re reliable.
I’ve snagged Iowa State (non-endorsed) apparel—for adults, not kids—with everything from the name of the school to Go Cyclones! set in Hobo, right along side the athletic logo (ISU has since put the brand smack down on things like that.
And of course, there is the aforementioned tanning logo, which I always just shake my head at—nothing about Hobo says classy, or beauty, or women, or tanning to me.
Ban Comic Sans?
Hobo ranks right up there with Comic Sans and Papyrus as one of the most wholeheartedly disliked, overused fonts out there. There are entire web sites dedicated entirely to ridding the world of Comic Sans (fortunately the designer of Hobo missed the age of internet backlash by quite a few years.)
The next time you’re bored on a family road trip, try a game of font bingo. You might become a type geek too. And keep an eye out for Hobo—it’s everywhere!