I've recently noticed a couple of t-shirts making typography jokes which (ironically, I guess?) have terrible typography. This is the sort of inattention to detail that make my hackles sit up and turn red.
Here's the first one: "I like my serifs classy".
I'd like to think that even an untrained eye would notice that the space between those first and second lines doesn't look quite right. In typography this is called leading, which is an anachronistic word referring to the amount of space between lines of text, and it should be the same.
Here you can see how close the first and second lines are to each other. If there happened to be a 'g' or a 'p' in the top line, or a 'k' or a 't' in the second line, they'd crash into each other. Even the spacing between the other three lines is very tight, their letters nearly touching. The odd thing is, that somebody had to actually go in and try to make this mistake. Design applications, all of them, by default, apply the same amount of leading between lines of text. So the designer actually looked at these four lines, thought "Gee, there sure does seem to be an awful lot of space between those first two lines, I think I'll go in there and wreck the place up."
Anyway, I've taken the liberty of fixing it.
The second example is "kerning matters."
Kerning is the space between two letters in a word. I'm reluctant to explain the joke, but here goes. Take the word 'kerning' and reduce the space between the letters 'r' and 'n' so they become so very close, and begin to look like the letter 'm'. So instead of 'kerning', you get 'keming'! Eh? Eh? It doesn't make sense anymore! Because of the... kerning! Kerning matters! Eh? Get it? ... Yeah... trust me, it's very droll.
The problem here is that this is one of those super esoteric, one-percent-of-the-people-who-see-it-will-get-it jokes, and the people who it's intended for, the people who would actually get the joke, are going to notice the terrible typography.
For starters, that's not an 'r' and an 'n', it's actually an 'm'. Helvetica Neue, 25 Ultra Light, if you happen to be interested.
This is what it looks like with the actual letters; the actual 'r' and 'n'.
So the joke isn't even accurate, but then there's also the terrible kerning. Look at the dearth of space between the 'm' and the 'i', and then at the galactic expanse between the 'i' and the 'n'. It's atrocious. Don't even get me started on the fact that they've left-aligned/rag-righted all of two words which are intended to be centered on the shirt.
Here's how it should look.
Notice the even and appropriate spacing between the 'm', the 'i', and the 'n'.
I wonder how it is that the people capable of thinking up these jokes could execute them so poorly. Maybe it says something about our education system, or the state of (and respect for) craftsmanship, or maybe the types of designers who end up making novelty t-shirts aren't necessarily of the highest caliber talent our profession has to offer.
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