Art and design have always been a barometer of the times and current cultural climate. Typography in the Renaissance was a direct interpretation of ornate handwriting of the day. Renewed interest in Greco-Roman culture influenced the Humanist type faces that basically define modern typography to this day etc. etc..I could sit and regurgitate Robert Bringhurst’s “The Elements of Typographic Style” but Id rather not.
Today I feel like we’re basically still using the same typefaces that we have been for the past 50 years or so. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it but with such relative stagnation in the typographic world, there’s been a new breed of designers that employ hand drawn, whimsical, irreverent typography. Without trying to sound like some of my old-school type profs at OCAD who refused to learn Adobe (and made us painstakingly reproduce Garamond by hand to the point of exhaustion) , the advent of computer driven design has made the hand more of a mouse pusher rather than a tool itself. Im not even sure if they still teach cursive lettering in schools today.
While its often not appropriate or effective for business related purposes, hand drawn type is a breath of fresh air in our Helvetica saturated world (don’t get me wrong, I love Helvetica). I feel like it brings more “art” back into design where its often lacking. While the two have definite common threads, I don’t really consider design to be art. I see design as a capitalist culture’s interpretation of art, a response to a consumer need. Hand type straddles the two worlds and bottom line.. its just plain fun. Who doesn’t like fun? 🙂