Obama ‘Gotham’ is the Desingers’ President

Last issue of form publishes an article by Erik Spiekermann that looks at the US presidential campaigns with an eye of graphic designer (and ES, renown German designers, founder and for many years a director of legendary MetaDesign studio, does have such an eye).

Few excerpts:

“Type doesn’t provide the melody” [I guess, he meant ‘meaning’ here], but the sound of a text. A song strummed on a banjo will sound different from the same song performed by a full philharmonic orchestra. Listeners will know. And designers have, of course, always been aware of that fact.

“Barack Obama himself also has to abide by some of these unwritten laws. His logo shows a blue semi circle, rising like the sun over three curvy red stripes that flow towards the upper right – into the future?

“OBAMA’08 is set in roman capitals. But his motto ‘Change’ makes a much more definite typographic statement.

“Above varying sublines it is set in Gotham, the typeface that want to be generic. Its designers were inspired by vernacular type found on the New York’s public buildings. Batman lives in Gotham City, the mystical New York. Gotham looks simple and geometric, but not as cold or constructed as DIN [similar font, used, for example, on the road signs along the German highways]. It has authority but tolerate dissent.

“The candidate on the other side, John McCain, makes a Freudian choice, typographically speaking. Optima, of all the things, the typeface that doesn’t know whether it is a serif or sans.

“This wimpish alphabet is supposed to represent the war hero and hardliner in matters of security. His logo also features a golden star that looks like it belongs to a uniform, but he cannot kid us, experts: if this election campaign is about brands, there can only be one real candidate: Barack “Gotham” Obama will be the designer’s president.”

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