Bad is the new good

type addict's picture

Can anyone out there tell me why awful lettering is spread all over
the media like a cancer?

A good example is shown in the HTC "You" ad campaign. Each lettering
style took seconds to minutes to draw. The point is the product.

I believe some of the ad ingredients have to be unusual to make us look
at the product being featured. The product is the point.

Even James Victore makes a good living from creating bad art. If that's
your bag, that's fine. It's not mine.

Paul Rand helped pioneer modern and informal graphic and advertising
design. I like some of his work very much.

The modern and informal trends in design are back in a big way.
A really big way!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, the beholder doesn't
know what beauty is.

Some people just don't take the time to see everything out there, like
I do. I'm very observant and have been since I was a child.

Very few things impress me, and when something does, I stand up and
cheer. I don't cheer, however, for what I think is bad out there. This
is the age where bad is the new good.

Nick Shinn's picture

In the HTC campaign, it's not bad, it's deliberately amateurish.
The rough hand lettering is supposed to look like YOU (presumably not a type designer) made it.

type addict's picture

Good point. ME as in the general public and not ME personally.
I'm a type hobbyist on the way to being a type designer.

Thank you for taking an interest.

jacobsievers's picture

I'm all for "deliberately amateurish," but if the intention is irony, I fail to see it:

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/index.jsp

jabez's picture

When I saw a screenshot of it, I couldn't believe it was the actual site.

"How I feel about the new urban outfitters redesign.
as done on ms paint."

[via retrophiliac]

jacobsievers's picture

Don't misunderstand me, I think the execution is spot-on - perfect for their demographic. And perhaps a jab at The Gap?

agostini's picture

I agree with Nick,
Exactly what I thought. YOU can be anybody. The advert tries to be as personal as possible,
different people, different styles. And to be honest how else than type enthusiasts would spend
more then minutes on the word YOU?

Jörg

oldnick's picture

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, the beholder doesn't
know what beauty is.

Amen. However, consider this. In an age where, thanks to the internet, ANYONE can be (an artist, author, critic, designer, filmmaker, guru, pundit or sage--at least in is or her own mind), Amateurish is the new Professional...

russellm's picture

there has never be a shortage of horrible work.

Nick Shinn's picture

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

As the population ages, a greater percentage of beholders' eyes will belong to old fogies, apt to dismiss the work of those subsequent generations of hip young creatives who shape culture as sub-par. Therefore, horrible work will increase.
(A utilitarian viewpoint.)

claaspb's picture

@jabez
i fear urban outfitters might be trying to be "hip" and imitate Mike Meiré's work for 032c (previously discussed here somewhere, can't seem to find it now..), just uglier. This kind of style has actually been going on for some time now.. the wine labels from Casa Mariol, "designed" in MS Word and Excel would be another example. (But in their case it actually looks good and fits their approach, i think)

JoergGustafs's picture

Very popular tactics these days – look like muck and nobody can really criticise you for that without making himself look like a party pooper. It’s the logical answer to the immense pressure to perform. Like all the hipsters wearing these 80s horn rims. They can stop combing and buy worn-out clothing-drive clothes, it’ll only add to their anti-style credibility. (But woe to those who try to jump on the bandwagon a tad too late…)

simplesimon's picture

To quote Baudelaire:

"Before trying to isolate the epic quality of modern life and to show,
by giving examples, that our age is no less rich than ancient times in
sublime themes, it may be asserted that since every age and every
people have had their own form of beauty, we inevitably have ours....
All forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, have within them
something eternal and something transitory -- an absolute and a
particular element. Absolute and eternal beauty does not exist, or
rather it is nothing but an abstract notion, creamed off from the
general surface of different types of beauty."

Nick Shinn's picture

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion."
- Francis Bacon

evilfansanfran's picture

Urban Outfitters is obviously on purpose. Its unpolished and sloppy unlike Mike Meiré's work.

riccard0's picture

- Francis Bacon

Which one?

jacobsievers's picture

Hilarious, and tasty.

riccard0's picture


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon_(artist)

blank's picture

Money for nothing, chicks for free.

JoergGustafs's picture

@ riccard0: I didn’t take the painter into account since he (at least as far as I know) didn’t lisp (>‘hath’).

riccard0's picture

since he […] didn’t lisp

This lisp?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisp_(programming_language)

;-)

Anyway, I was just fooling a bit around, since I find that the topic and Nick’s quotation suit the painter’s work.

blank's picture

I suspect that much of the ugly-by-design stuff is really just design-by-committee stuff that’s been through a couple of focus groups. I know a hell of a lot of young designers and none are producing this deliberately bad/“ironic” work. But it does remind me experienced designers who set type with light monospaced fonts, or weird sans fonts, at 8 points or less, just to show how cool they can be when they aren’t working for those terrible overbearing clients who expect them to set readable type.

Nick Shinn's picture

Right. "You don't know sh*t from


Memo to self: great name for a font.

blank's picture

Sometimes I think that the entire point of contemporary commercial culture is to obliterate the difference.

bowerbird's picture

baudelaire was a hippie...

you kids get off my lawn!

-bowerbird

russellm's picture

> Memo to self: great name for a font.

Shinnola?

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