Brought to you by the Letter G
As I got ready to write my first blog entry for Almanac, I challenged myself to find something beyond my bio as a way of introducing myself. At the risk of sounding like a character on Sesame Street, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite letter, and how it got that status.
Grafik Magazine has a series called Letterform where they ask designers to choose a favorite typeface (harsh, I know!) and the letter that made them fall in love: the ‘R’ in Irvin, the ‘a’ in Lettra-Txt, and the ‘g’ of ABF Petit — and that’s the one that reminded me of how interesting the letter ‘g’ can be.
The lowercase, double-storey ‘g’ feels academic, scientific, inquisitive. The Uppercase ‘G’ is formidable and steady. Both lower- and uppercase versions of this amazing letter contain a lot of open space, so they are friendly and flexible — just look what a few designers have been able to do with our versatile ‘g’:
G also seems to have an uncanny ability to embody the words it starts — from Google to Gibson, some of my favorite brand marks make use of the unique qualities of the ‘g’. Whether it’s in script, calligraphy, uppercase, lowercase, one- and two-storey, serif and sans; the letter ‘g’ always has a way of capturing my imagination.
More so than ever, graphic designers are struggling against impermanence to make something that lasts, that sticks, and that defies trends. Logos, tag lines, even manifestos seem to flicker in and out of public consciousness at an alarming pace. But I find a lot of hope when I can see new possibilities in a letter I’ve been using since grade school, a letter that’s over two millennia old.
If language is how we communicate now, then how we treat that language visually is incredibly important as well: we can say, “This is bold. This is thoughtful. This is heartbreaking. This is powerful,” without ever having to use those words. We can time-travel by compressing a dozen ideas into a single glance. We can crumble language barriers in the way we write letters and words — you only have to look as far as WWII propaganda posters or a page of Latin blacklettering to find an emotional language that lives in letters. And rather than being dismayed about the frantic pace of media, I’m excited about both a return to traditional crafts like printing and sign-painting, and the new frontiers of digital communication.
So, what about you? If you have a letter that perplexes and delights you, too, share it with us on Facebook.
Credits in order of appearance: