Media Blog, VCD101

Typography is a hidden tool of manipulation within society

“Typography is a hidden tool of manipulation within society.”

The designer- Neville Brody

About the Artist, Neville Brody- we need context to establish this quote in. Neville Brody was born in 1957 and is a British graphic designer and typographer. He did a BA in Graphics and his early work was inspired by the emerging punk rock scene. Once out of University, his name was popularised by his art direction on a magazine called “The Face” and completely changed the aesthetic of the times. He later sold a book on his graphic design work, which was very popular.

This all relates back to his quote, which is ‘Typography is a hidden tool of manipulation within society’. His success in the art industry and typography in general have made him a renowned figure, and his quote is speaking from experiences he’s had with selling his works and getting people interested in how to formulate typography. While on ‘The Face’ magazine, he played with the composition and typography of letters, and the new designs allowed him to ‘manipulate’ or entrance readers to buy the magazine for the front covers alone.

One of Neville’s works, ‘Free me from Freedom’

What it means to me is very different, and of course, depends on the individual person viewing the quote or work. What it means is that in typography, the typefaces and setting can mean everything. It can convey sadness, anger, happiness. Hell, even this font is conveying an emotion to you. There are groups of typefaces that can exude a particular feel, and can be used very well. For example, sans-serif fonts can feel businesslike or strict, while modern serif fonts can appear more decorative and free. There are some more obvious ones, like Monospaced, which is an imitation of the Typewriter and looks robotic as well as antique. The point is, typography can influence what you think about the text in subtle ways, and can manipulate the reader into thinking or leaning towards an opinion that suits the typeface. Even when reading a book, personally I prefer some typefaces more than others and the typefaces I don’t like, I am much less likely to read the book.

It is called a hidden tool of manipulation because many people do not realise the value of typography in everyday life, when it consumes them on a daily basis, everything from the soap you buy, to election ballots, to movie titles. There are an endless list of possibilities to encounter the typography, since written text is ingrained to our society.

Brody goes so far as to call it a ‘manipulation’ but not in the evil sense of the world. It is more the subtle changing of environment, or text layout, or font that can shift your mood ever so slightly. This manipulation is small, but can catch on with the rest of society in a big way. For example, we all recognise the Comic Sans Font. There have been lots of uses of the font, and discussion on how ‘ugly’ the font is on internet forums and social media. This discussion by society led to almost everyone disliking the font and it unanimously standing for a representation of a ‘bad font’. Ironically, it is a very good font for dyslexia readers as the word is weighted just enough that they stay grounded. I only use the “Typography is a hidden tool” portion for my booklet as it is shorter and allows more space to play around. To sum up, typography is extremely important in the world around us, and allows us to subtly influence what people are thinking, and attracting attention when we need it.

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