For the “hel” of it?

Helyesica DesignSo, Ink to the People has finally become a reality. I’m excited. Really excited! What a great platform for us creative-types to get some work out there, connect with the masses, and hopefully sell some shirts.

But what to design? What, indeed… This should be easy. I’ve been a designer for many years. It should be a no brainer, right? I quickly realized, it’s harder than it seems. When there’s a client, there is a strategy, an objective, a budget, and always, a deadline. This one was on my shoulders, fully. The proverbial empty canvas. Art-for-art-sake. Yep, it’s a bit daunting.

As I stared into space for inspiration (long enough for my psychedelic screen saver to ignite), it hit me. Unicorns. With that, I began. I typically start by typing in a word just to get the wheels rolling. Unicorn, as it so happens, is quite a handsome word. Good start I thought. Next was to select a font. Should I go for something Roman, I asked myself, perhaps a nice Baskerville, Minion or maybe Bodoni? Hmm, not feeling ‘em. How about something silly, I wondered. Log Cabin fit the bill. Uh, NO. As I was about to abandon ship and get back to my “real” work, I tried Helvetica. My standard, underestimated, sometime revered, Helvetica. It was PERFECT. It’s a font I use a lot. One that has always been there for me, and in my time of need, once again, it came through.

I decided to shelf unicorns and focus on my go-to font as the subject of the design. From my earliest design memory, there has always been a degree of controversy about the widely used sans-serif typeface developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann.

Helvetica sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s been called boring, predictable, and generic, but many designers disagree. In sharp contrast, they love it. And can’t live without it. By now you have probably guessed, I am one of the loyalists. It’s beautifully designed and timeless. It can look big and bad, or with the right size proportions and letter spacing, remarkably elegant. Having created hundreds, if not thousands of designs using Helvetica, I set out to create a custom t-shirt design that is in firm support of a subject close to my heart, and my aesthetics. 

The question is a simple one: To Helvetica or not to Helvetica? I say: Helyesica!

Anyone up for a challenge?

Not everyone agrees that Helvetica is the end-all sans-serif solution. Some like Futura, Gill Sans, or dare I say, the system-safe star, Arial. Well, fellow designers, and haters, let’s see what you’ve got! Yep, it’s a good ol’ fashioned, initial cap, perfectly kerned, leaded-to-the-nth, gentleman’s challenge! If anyone is up to the task, I’m looking forward to wearing one of your font inspired shirt designs. To sweeten the deal, the best selling font inspired design will get a nifty Ink to the People logo shirt. Oh yeah.

I’m hopeful that this little rant, if for nothing else, serves as inspiration to anyone looking for a subject in which to focus your design.

-Neil Becker
Principal, Becker Design
Creative Director, Ink to the People

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