The Art and Type Tango
- You buy them separately, but art and type are two sides of the same coin—and there’s magic in making them work together. Here’s how they relate.
Today, tens of thousands of professionally drawn images are available to everyone for pennies each. Type, the classic high art, is being given away by some companies almost for free.
Let’s put these tools to work—together. It’s typical to think of art and type separately: Art goes here, type goes there. But as a rule, they’re more effective together than apart. This means they operate in the same space—overlapped, side by side, stacked, interwoven, and so on. This allows the characteristics of each to rub off on the other, adding up to a “word image” that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Proximity Is the Key...
Proximity is what turns individual letters and artwork into useful logos. Bring letter and graphic close, closer, close enough to overlap, and you create a simple, artful icon.
Proximity has many expressions. While the spade above can stand alone, the swash at right cannot. Here we overlapped the M, then added an embellishment. The swashy dingbat resembles a swaying frond; two circles were all it took to suggest the breezy tropics.
Picture Atop the Name...
What’s the Cookout Company’s specialty? The image answers the question without saying a word.
2 Side by Side
Big Graphic, Small Word...
Create a boardroom look of authority by making the graphic object prominent and understating the typeset name. More big companies do it this way than any other.
Big Word, Small Graphic...
A simple graphic can expertly convey who you are and what you do. In this case, replacing just the apostrophe is enough to create an unmistakable air. Look for ways to replace punctuation marks or even whole letters.
Note the monochromatic color scheme of yellows and golds. Colors that are similar to each other—reds and violets, greens and aquas—always harmonize readily, and, more important, the eye identifies them as belonging together. Note, too, the “reverse case” treatment of the type. The larger and more important word—fifi’s—is set in lowercase, while the smaller word—STATIONERS—is in uppercase. You can get excellent results from such unexpected contrasts. Try a contrast of very large but very light type against very small and bold.
Stacking a letter atop a graphic is the classic way to create decorative initial caps, monograms, and handsome logos, simply.
When combining letter and graphic, watch for the interplay of values—that is, the relative darkness and lightness of the objects. To illustrate, the light E, right, is lost in the dark ornamentation. This can be solved by adding a dark background (right center), which subdues the ornamentation and allows the letter to stand out. To achieve similar separation but without the background, tint the ornament lightly (far right).
A complete merging of text and graphic—both occupy the same space yet are fully visible. Useful for glass, plastic, haze, gauze, motion, dreamscapes, and so on.