Friday, August 14, 2009

Never say never ...

Ever had your mind made up that you just do not like a particular font, and there was no real justification for your disdain? Well, for a while now, I've been particularly harsh on Optima. I swore that if I could avoid using it in any of my work, I would. It always looked a bit awkward and "horsey" to me. But the other day while doing some photo research for the mag, I came across an interesting picture. It was a label for a wine bottle that immediately grabbed my attention. It was simple and clean, with beautifully set type, and it was set in ... wait for it ... Optima.

It was such a great use of the font and it worked so well within the context of the label, I had to find out who designed it. So, I got my google on and after about 30 seconds I found the winery, Ridge Vineyards. I wasn't turning up anything for the design though. After about 10 more minutes of searching I thought I'd drop Ridge Vineyards and email inquiring about the label; who designed it, when it was designed, etc. Literally five minutes later, I received an email from Kathy Martinich at the winery. She let me know that the label was designed in 1962 by James Robertson of Yolla Bolly Press. She was kind enough to send over the original design along with a memorial piece for James Robertson from their newsletter. 1962?! I had it in mind that this was a more recent design. But, most of the post World War II designers liked their stuff clean, a la Massimo Vignelli, (Don't know who that is? For the love of Pete, click that link.) and this design is an outstanding example of that. Unfettered, with a great use of space, color, and yes, typography.

So, I stand corrected. What can I say? I had only seen Optima used badly and it skewed my opinion. Many thanks to Kathy at Ridge Vineyards for sending over the label and letting me know about James Robertson. Next time I might not be so quick to write off a font—except maybe Papyrus.