A Font We Can Believe In
Barack Obama and his favorite font, Gotham
Unless you’ve been avoiding television, newspapers, and all other forms of mass media for the past few months, you’ve probably seen Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In” and “Stand for Change” banners. The typophiles among you have realized that the “change” font Obama’s campaign uses is Gotham, designed by Hoefler & Frere-Jones, originally as a commission for GQ Magazine.
Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones spoke about the creation of Gotham during our interview for Helvetica, and looking back at their description of what GQ wanted from the font, it sounds surprisingly Obama-esque. “GQ had a dual agenda of wanting something that would look very fresh, yet very established, to have a credible voice to it,” says Hoefler. It also needed to look very masculine and “of-the-moment.” Mission accomplished.
The conversation about the origins of Gotham didn’t make it into the film, but was included among the 41 bonus features on the Helvetica DVD. I’ve posted part of the interview above. Watching this clip, I think it’s interesting that the design of Gotham was influenced by early Modernism, another movement that was about change and social idealism. And I like that the design aesthetic that may help move Obama into the White House was inspired by the humble NY Port Authority Bus Terminal sign.