There have been some magnificent trends in typography since the Second World War, established by ingenious individuals and marvelous movements.
What follows are some of the standout highlights in typography from the latter half of the twentieth century.
If you like this article, you might be interested in some of our older articles on Free Professional Fonts, In Defense of Comic Sans, Best Sites to Download Free Fonts, and Text Tutorials.
- Herman Zapf (1918-, Germany) is one of the most prolific and important designers of the twentieth century. Throughout his long career he has created types for hot metal composition, phototyping and ultimately the digital revolution. Among his famous types are Melior and Optima. A true giant of typography.
- One of the most popular forms of typography in the 1950s, the International Style (also referred to as ‘Swiss School’) assimilated the typographical principles of Bauhaus, De Stilj and Jan Tschichold’s New Typography, negating decoration and emphasizing the social potency of typography.
- Paul Rand (1914-1996, USA) was an incredibly influential member of the ‘New York School’, greatly raising the profile of art directors. Fond of simplicity and easily recognized designs, one of his most famous creations is the IBM logo. When art went pop in the 1960s, it radically affected aesthetics, reflecting the disposal of consumer culture. Pop art created an allusive form of typography, referencing consumer products. Campbell soup anybody?
What would Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa albums look like without the flowing art nouveau influenced typography of the Psychedelia movement? Hallucinogens greatly inspired the wild textual and pictorial distortions.
- In the 1970s the earliest computer typesetting was created by fusing photocomposition with new digital techniques. Ultimately, this revolutionized the capabilities of design professionals to design on their computer screens.
- Based in Madison Avenue, New York, the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) promoted the rights of designers and stimulated the creation of new designs and type revivals. Ed Benguiat (1927-, USA) and Tony Stan (1917-1988, USA) were two of their most famous designers.
The digital revolution in the 1980s saw new forms of typography created for PCs, music videos and computer games. Films like Tron helped disseminate the new digital aesthetic. Print was revolutionised with the development of laser printers and a great spirit of experimentation swept through professional design.
- Neville Brody (1957-, UK) revolutionist magazine graphic design working for The Face and Arena throughout the 80s. Top types included Insignia (1989), Arcadia (1990) and FF Harlem (1993).
- Founded in 1981 by Matthew Carter and Mike Parker, Bitstream was the first digital type foundry and continues to operate today. Developing fonts for businesses, Carter created fonts like Charter (1993) and Verdana (1994).
- Adobe started in 1982, creating the PostScript graphics programmed, which continues to be the standard graphic design language. Sumner Stone (1945-, USA) was extremely influential as Adobe Director of Typography (1984-1991), creating the Stone series of fonts (1987), Print (1991) and EndsMeansMends (1991).
- When the Macintosh was launched in 1984, its initially low resolution demanded new screen fonts. Set up in 1984 by Zuzana Licko (1961, Czechoslovakia) and Rudy Vanderlans (1955, Holland), Emigre magazine addressed the issue of Mac font limitations, creating fonts like Modula (1985), Matrix (1986), Senator (1988) and Dogma (1994).
- In 1990, the famous functional type Arial was designed for Microsoft by Monotype, quickly becoming known around the globe due to it being the primary Windows font. Also in 1990, Barry Deck (1952-, USA) designed Template Gothic, which became one of the most successful fonts of the 1990s.
- Postmodern typography became all the rage in the 90s, as graphic designers like David Carson (1956-, USA) and Carlos Segura (1956-, Cuba) broke all the established rules, altering body text, flipping letters and creating fonts so decorative they became more akin to visuals. There wild styles continue to influence graphic designers today.