TOR AND THE ART OF TYPOGRAPHY

28 May 2012

By Louise Buckley

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If you're a geek like me you find typography and the use of fonts really interesting. Neil Lang, our fantastic Tor Designer, has very kindly answered a few questions about his favourite fonts, and which font he would save if the world was only reduced to using only one . . .  

Fonts are very important on book covers. Can you briefly explain how you use fonts to convey the mood as well as genre of a cover?

 

The choice of typeface on a cover has always been important, but is arguably now even more so, as an ever increasing number of books are sold online, with only small thumbnails to grab your attention. Type can instantly create the right mood and provide a visual clue as to the type of book you could purchase. For example, you could show that the book is historical, using something such as Blackletter or an old style script, or a distressed serif such as Celestia. Attempting to create a ‘futuristic’ look is maybe not so easy, although I’d probably use a sans serif such as the type used on the new Gary Gibson FINAL DAYS cover, or alter the font some way in Photoshop, which I did for the Neal Asher covers. With fantasy covers you can sometimes be more creative and use something a little different such as the new cover branding on the Mark Charan Newton covers, which we are reissuing later this year, or use an existing font and then distress it which I did for THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS.

 

Are there any products or pieces of advertising that in your opinion make great use of fonts?

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That is a difficult one as fonts that are often used on popular adverts and products do go in and out of fashion and can become dated. Although one of my favourite uses of type, which I think still holds up today, would have to be the FedEx logo, as it is simple, bold, stands out from a distance, and then there’s the arrow created from the negative space.

With book covers you can get one book that sells really well and this has a knock on effect on other books in the market, with other publishers trying to replicate the success of the origjnal book by trying to show their author is similar in some way through cover style and font!

 

What is your favourite font and why?

 

Favourite font is an impossible question as I’d pick a different one every day, and it would depend on the usage, but you can’t go too far wrong with Garamond or Bembo, and I think most designers, myself included, will have used Helvetica at least a couple of times!

 

And finally, Earth is now ruled by a despotic leader who wants to outlaw all fonts except one. As his advisor, which font should he keep and why?

 

If I could only choose one to keep, I’d have a laugh and choose dingbats, that would make things interesting!

N.B. 'dingbats' is a font that uses symbols and shapes instead of letters or numbers, for example:

dingbats

Can you work out what it says?