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Papyrus (aka I’m Trying to be Ancient and Mysterious, but in Reality, I’m Being A Hack)

Almost as notorious as Comic Sans, Papyrus is another one of those infamous fonts that is reviled by graphic designers and typographers nearly everywhere. While it hasn’t come close to the absolute and utter hatred that Comic Sans has firmly established (although there is a website dedicated to destroying the Papyrus font once and for all, much like how there’s a website dedicated to ridding the world of Comic Sans, so it’s safe to say that these two fonts are neck and neck with each other in terms of sheer badness), Papyrus still has a nasty reputation of its own, mostly due to its sheer overuse by amateur designers on posters and invitations, as well as being used as a go-to font when said amateur designers want to appear to be “mysterious” when advertising their shops and restaurants.

...As well as the "gift" of pure lazy typographic design.

Papyrus was designed in 1982 by Chris Costello, a pretty well-known graphic designer, illustrator, and web designer, who drew the font by hand over a 6 month period. The finished design had “human” elements such as rough edges and irregular curves (a result of Costello drawing Papyrus on textured paper) to make it more natural; giving Costello his goal of designing a font to represent how the English alphabet would have looked on the Egyptian paper of the same name.

So, show of hands: who could design a better tea box in their sleep?

Much like Frankenstien’s monster, Papyrus was created with good intentions, and one can’t honestly blame Costello for creating the Papyrus we know today. Personally, I can see the appeal behind the design, but much like Comic Sans, it mostly just boils down to it being overused (especially by amateur graphic designer who think they’re being “unique”). It can also be interpreted as a lazy choice made by a graphic designer who just decided to use the font because they wanted to be “mysterious” with their typography, but didn’t feel like looking around much for a different font. If you think about it like that, it’s not hard to see why Papyrus is as equally reviled as Comic Sans… but Comic Sans is still uglier.

Case in point: James Cameron had all that money to spend on the cutting edge technology, but apparently couldn't afford to design (or pick) a better font.

This wasn't a fan-created wallpaper; this band really does use Papyrus in all of their merchandise.

One Comment

  1. bpaige wrote:

    I understand how Papyrus and Comic Sans are over used, but I hate when designers look at a great design (where comic sans or papyrus was used and it actually works)and they point out the fact that the designer used those typefaces… if it works then it works.Me being a young designer I haven’t chosen comic sans or papyrus for any of my designs because simply because I choose fonts that are appropriate. I feel like when people don’t use fonts because they are over used or miss-used is really limiting them. That being said for some of the designs you chose to critique are either big restaurants or movies that have done very well..so the designer must be doing something right..Being closed minded isn’t the best way to be sometimes.

    Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink