Tuesday, 13 May 2008

the shape of politics to come - UPDATE

Back in February, I noted that font experts selected Obama and McCain as the winners in the race for President. Although they were selecting winning font choices, it's worth following up now that McCain is the presumptive nominee for the Republicans. The NYTimes has a piece on the McCain camp's selection of Optima as their font of choice. Optima, the article notes, is the font Maya Lin selected for the Vietnam Memorial (photo by Sarah, I think). This fits well with McCain's war hero status, whether he had anything to do with the selection or not.

As Rudy VanderLans puts it,
What does Optima say about Senator McCain? Nothing. It probably says more about the designer than anything else. Who, except designers, would judge a candidate by the typeface?
Not exactly McCain's base. But Matthew Carter has the most interesting tid-bit:

The moment of typographic truth will come when Senator McCain picks a vice presidential running mate and two names have to be combined on banners and bumper stickers. By choosing Optima, a rather distinctive typeface, he may have seriously limited his options.

I set the possible names in a bold weight of Optima caps and certain things became clear. HUCKABEE looks awkward in Optima, and ROMNEY is afflicted with the same difficult ‘EY’ combination that has plagued the current vice presidency. Perhaps because Optima is a German typeface, the word SCHWARZENEGGER looks predictably good.

Although it’s German, Optima took its inspiration from Quattrocento inscriptional lettering in the cathedrals of Florence and Siena, which may explain why GIULIANI looks so simpatico. In the end, however, my research suggests that the optimal running mate — so long as you don’t have to typeset her first name — is RICE.

Good choice.

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