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Trajan at the Movies!

April 19, 2012
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In the blog I Love Typography (which has only a slightly less cool name then my blog) John discusses the prevalence of the typeface Trajan in movie posters. Whether movie posters designers are getting lazy or not doesn’t seem to be the sole reason for this. Trajan is a very great choice for many movies that need a strong typeface for the title with a nice sharpened/angular serif. Here are some examples from the past.

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There is an entire set of photos on Flickr devoted to finding movie posters that use Trajan. However, after looking through them, it seems the 163 posters they have is blown out a little too much. Many of the posters in the collection aren’t even close to Trajan.

Looking at this trend, I have to believe that movie poster designers need to get more clever with the typefaces they either chose to use or have made for the movie. Movies these days are huge endeavors, often with budgets in the nine-figures. The movie Avatar had it’s own typeface designed for the films native language that was used for subtitles (which looked surprisingly akin to Papyrus). Trajan is a beautiful typeface that has been around for over twenty years, but it is absolutely time to move on.

When looking at a new movie, I would imagine it would be easy to use Trajan. The great weight distribution on the stems of the letters, the beautiful serifs that scream edginess and sophistication all at once, and finally the fact that it’s completely in caps and small caps. It really does make a great type for a movie. But with the money being tossed around in that field, there is no reason that more thought shouldn’t be put into them, resulting in less similarity among typefaces chosen.

One of my recent favorite typefaces is a beautiful serif typeface named Archer. I tend to resort to it when designing something for myself, or even writing something. It has nice even weight serifs that are modern, yet classy. Really a beautiful typeface. But when I see myself using it, I force myself to examine why I’m using it, and if not for a good reason, to examine a new one to select. It’s all part of the process of expanding your design repertoire.

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Just because a typeface looks good in a situation doesn’t mean it’s the right one for it. All type faces had personalities, and just like people, you have to make sure the personalities of the type and the project mesh, or you will get a chaotic final product.

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