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Trajan: The Movie Font

Has anyone noticed how almost every movie poster you see has the same ‘movie’ font? Well someone within the YouTube galaxy has, and he posted this video about how Trajan has become the catch-all go-to for movie poster designers.

Check out the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t87QKdOJNv8 (Does anyone know how to embed YouTube videos here? If so I’d love to know…)

Trajan does have a commanding and solid authority about it, but can it retain its bravura after its ab/over use by the movie advertising machine? It is at risk of becoming a visual cliche and losing its credibility–which is unfortunate since Trajan is a versatile and attractive font that has strong historical connections.

I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on how fonts become diluted and lose their visual credibility over time? Take for instance the awful/horrible/terror-inducing/(insert your ghastly response here______) ‘font’ Comic Sans that reigned supreme over newsletters, e-mails, bulletin boards, and amateur webpages throughout the 90s…I guess hindsight really is 20/20, because anyone caught using Comic Sans today is an instant pariah.

Fonts rely on connotative implications and visual conventions in order to properly convey an idea, and overuse can degrade that contextual basis. Graphic designers who use fonts effectively can harness this power of typography, but they must also take into consideration the implications/consequences of relying too heavily on any one solution.

These posters below, both for bad thriller films, appeared on theatre marquis within 1 month of one another and competed side by side for viewers’ attention. Not only are they similar films in terms of genre, their poster designs are curiously similar (both are films by Sony Pictures). Note the identical color scheme, title placement, and, of course, use of TRAJAN!

premonition.jpg vs. perfect_stranger_xlg.jpg

4 Comments

  1. jandos wrote:

    I’ll go back to U-Tube land and see what can be done. I documented my attempt to videoize my blog here: http://www.designingmagazines.com/?p=86

    Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  2. Kristy wrote:

    I never noticed that before. It’s funny because there of course are a ton of movies out there whose title fonts or designs have been very carefully thought out. This also calls up the fact that thriller films always use the same voice in their trailers and similar music, too. Come to think of it, that probably has a lot to do with why I personally am never interested in seeing these films–they all seem like the same movie recycled over and over.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  3. Anne Kerns wrote:

    Cheshire Dave made a font-commentary mini-movie on Trajan a couple (few?) years ago, after his “Behind the Typeface: Cooper Black” movie, which was a spoof on VH1′s “Behind the Music” series. View it here: http://www.veer.com/ideas/etched/ . Carol Twombly designed Trajan in 1989, and in the past 20 years it has indeed become overused. If you are looking for some of the same qualities it has, alternate fonts include the gorgeous Requiem from Hoefler & Frere-Jones, Penumbra and Waters Titling from Adobe, and Perpetua Titling from Monotype, just to name a few. These typefaces are classified as lapidary, due to their chiseled look.

    Thursday, March 6, 2008 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  4. September wrote:

    Great work.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008 at 4:59 am | Permalink