The majority of these posters are set in Bebas Neue, an Open Source font family originally designed as a single font by Ryoichi Tsunekawa of the type foundry Dharma Type. Dharma Type, established in 2005, is a project to offer exclusive fonts designed by Ryoichi Tsunekawa for all designers. The other typeface that appears occasionally is Rebecca Simpson’s Old Rubber Stamp, created lovingly using old style rubber stamps and ink.
I am not the only person to have a love affair with Bebas Neue. It is nice on the eyes, I think. Like a souped up, internet prioritised Helvetica. Originally, Bebas Neue was available as upper case only and I liked the limitations of writing in CAPITAL LETTERS and with no ability to bold or italicise and the fact that some essential characters and marks were unavailable, because it makes you consider your choice of words. Given that CAPS = SHOUTING, how, when required, does one speak with a softer tone of voice? What words can do this? Bebas Neue was created primarily for web and interactive design, rather than for print, although it reminded me greatly of the font used on the supermarket posters that were created in our kitchen.
Since I started using Bebas Neue, Dharma Type has added lowercase characters to the original design, added Cyrillic language support and expanded it to a multi-weight, 40-strong font family – Bebas Neue Pro.
We’re now all armed with computers that come pre-loaded with a packed font book, and we load even more from dafont or activate everything we can in the adobe cloud and, even though some of us spent our childhoods mucking about with John Bull printing kits and Letraset and watching signwriters at work and have also played with letterpresses and hot metal, we all reckon we’re experts at typography – but we’re not. Use fonts wisely and sparingly, people.
The colours in the posters are an arbitrary choice influenced by the Dayglo Neon paper that littered my childhood home, only slightly less gaudy and migraine-inducing. The original concept was that the colours would match six themes that the words fell into. The hex colour codes at play in the digital versions are: blue – #1398fd; green – #22c46f; orange – #f28a35; yellow – #f0e907; purple – #dc09ca; red – #fb0a1b.