Goslings epic 3 min performance for Saturday Night Live, was not only hilariously convincing but at the same time unsettling, as it struck a chord with me and no doubt anyone who has ever had access to a computer and font choices. His depiction of a man haunted by the use of the font in the “Avatar” movies advertising campaign, cuts through to the heart of creatives and typographic purist.

That’s the problem with loving typography. The pleasure of discovering stunningly gorgeous, typefaces while flicking through magazines or walking past a new restaurant. But that pleasure is sometimes devastated by the sight of a typographic train wreck. Like having an overactive sense of smell. You spend way too much time wincing… rather than savouring in the delights of a full-bodied typeface.

Creatives who work with typefaces on a daily basis, and lovingly study them, can spot, name and shame a bad choice of font. Reactions of sadness can sometime arise for type addicts and font nuts, to what would’ve otherwise been an enjoyable moment. Creatives have been known to quietly suffer momentarily. A bit like having an unfortunate allergic reaction.

I must admit, I’ve been guilty of slipping in to watch movies just for a films opening title sequence. Movies do sometimes disappoint, not only with inappropriate font use, but historic inaccuracies with font choices as well. In the movie “Titanic,” in which the numbers emblazoned on the ship’s pressure gauges, use Helvetica, a font designed in 1957, which is almost 50 years after the real “Titanic” ship sank. There are of course, countless other examples of subtle typographic misdemeanours that occur in cinema.

Familiarity, for any font, may breed contempt.

Personally, I feel Papyrus was a good starting point… It’s “tribal yet futuristic” Gosling vhowever, had a point. “Whatever they did…it wasn’t far enough!” in exploring other possibilities. Papyrus could’ve been tweaked, hand-crafted and personalized more for the movie. Especially after a budgeting spend of $238 million USD. Did you know it was named as the world’s highest-grossing film of all time.

Papyrus primitive beginnings

Chris Costello designed the font when he was just 23 years old in 1982, after sketching it on a sheet of paper while bored, contemplating life and “thought it looked cool”. He adds “…There have definitely been days I wish I never sold the rights,” he laughs, acknowledging the font definitely has its fair share of haters. He says he never dreamed Papyrus would end up being installed on over a billion Mac and PC computers around the world.

(Picture of movie & title with details of Costellos drawings & sketches)

I wonder what Costello would’ve said if he had’ve played Goslings character in the skit? After selling the rights to his Papyrus font for today’s equivelent of $5,000. “I know how much I charged… and it wasn’t enough!!!”

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