Let’s face it, fonts and typefaces have officially become a mainstream obsession. In our current design-centric culture, terms like sans-serif, Helvetica, and — heaven forbid — Comic Sans have breached the cultural consciousness. Fortunately, for those of you who still can’t tell your Futura from your Papyrus, Yukon-based designer Ben Barrett-Forrest has crafted this charming stop-motion history lesson to help you get up to speed.
Built with 2454 photographs, 291 letters, and 140 hours of his life, Barrett-Forrest’s animated short is a delight . As he guides us from the lowly beginnings of Guttenberg’s printing press, all the way to the computer age, it becomes apparent that the art of type is a corollary for history. Like architecture and fashion, typography is a reflection of the world in which it’s created. Barrett-Forrest explains his interest in type and the genesis of the project in an interview below.
The Atlantic: How did the project come to be? Have you always been knowledgeable about typography?
Ben Barrett-Forrest: I have always been a type nerd, but it was about two years ago that I really caught typography fever. I was taking a design class for my multimedia degree at McMaster University and it was recommended that I read a book called Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton. This brilliant book showed me that typography has huge diversity and a long history, and I was quickly hooked.