Hobo Hauntings

Over the last few weeks I have felt that I’m being stalked. Based on the overwhelming popularity of IBD (the book and the blog) I have had to consider hiring a bodyguard. I watch a lot of episodes of TMZ and now realize that you haven’t arrived until you have a supersized man walking behind you and a dog that fits in a purse. I would hope that Paul would have my back if we were together at one of our favorite scenes (like hanging out an Office Depot) and it turned tragic (Paul asked where they keep the Apple computers and they tell him they don’t carry them), but based on my experience with graphic designers they will turn on you in a heartbeat.

Over a year ago I made a decision to change a typeface in a logo that I was designing for the upcoming NAI Region VI workshop in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. As with many of the design projects that I work on, I send them to Paul for a review, comments, and suggestions. Paul’s reaction was “Is that Hobo? No Hobo!!!” Based on the number of exclamation points being used I knew that Paul (a chronic over-punctuator) was serious about the use of Hobo and I would have to change it at the very least to avoid any additional chastising. I have never dealt well with peer pressure. Ever since I made that decision I can’t but help noticing the removed typeface in conspicuous locations on a daily basis. Perhaps it is less of a stalking and more of a haunting a sort of “ghost of typefaces past.” That typeface is Hobo.

Created in 1910, Hobo is a sans serif that is known for its lack of descending straight lines and overall casual feel. Created by Morris Fuller Benton, who as a typographer worked for the ATF (American Type Founders, not the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), designed over 200 typefaces. According to Benton’s biography on Wikipedia the “large family of related neogrotesque sans-serif typefaces, known as ‘gothics’ as was the norm at the time, includes Alternate Gothic, Franklin Gothic, and News Gothic. All were more similar to, and better anticipated, later realist sans-serif typefaces such as Helvetica than did the other early grotesque types of his contemporaries.” As a park ranger I’m not sure what that really means but I think it is saying something about Benton being really great and designers today who like black lipstick, skinny jeans, and black fingernail polish.

I know exactly what you are thinking, “Didn’t Paul write about Hobo in his post Get to Know a Typeface: Hobo on Monday, March 29, 2010?” Yes, he did and I’m impressed with your knowledge of IBD posts. I’m still not satisfied with my decision to drop Hobo and use N.O. Movement Bold. In fact I still kind of like Hobo. I think it has something to do with all of these Hobo cameo appearances that are constantly reminding me of a design decision that I made. Which should actually be working the opposite way, much like the ubiquity of Papyrus and Comic Sans, to reinforce that I made the right decision to drop an overused font? The difference is that Hobo is not that bad of a typeface it is just overused. Hobo (much like Papyrus, Comic Sans and Paul) has websites that display others’ disdain for them (I Hate Hobo).

I have to admit that I’m happy that a logo I created didn’t land on one of those websites but why can’t I find peace with the decision I made? Because Hobo was what I looking for in a typeface that represented the unique style of Eureka Springs while still being easy to read in the negative space (or counterform, for those fancy pants non-Hobo using graphic designers who live in Fort Collins, Colorado) of the exclamation point. I think the lack of straight lines, decenders, and the overall casual feel and roundness is as eclectic as Eureka itself. I understand why the change needed to be made and I am being constantly reminded of that same reason.

In the mean time I’m going to order this pledge provided by Lure and hang it in my office.

I still like Hobo.

I mentioned peer pressure earlier in the post. There will be an informal gathering of IBD readers at the NAI National Workshop next week in Las Vegas, Nevada  immediately following the Superstars of Interpretation on Wednesday night. This idea actually came from a reader/commenter known as Joan (we cannot confirm or deny that her name is actually Joan). Paul and I will be looking for the closest Office Depot to the Las Vegas Strip so we can discuss the pros and cons of metal and plastic paperclips.  Seriously, there will be a gathering, location to be determined. Check the IBD Facebook page during the conference or ask us. Help us make it go viral at the workshop, without the flu-like symptoms.

PC vs. Mac (Hint: PC Wins!)

It bothers me when people start presentations or any written document with apologies or qualifying statements. Let me begin this post with both. I first want to say that I really like Apple products, have owned them and currently own them (iPod) and would even have an iPhone if Verizon Wireless offered them. Until they do, I will stick with the bag phone with expandable antenna that I have carried since 1995. It gets great reception, has a handle, and if you ever need something to hold the door open for you it is ready. I would like to apologize to all of the diehard designer types, whose mind is more like command + closed apple than open apple, that I may offend by this post.

With that said I will proceed. I’m a practical guy, drive a minivan (with dubs and a banging system), married the love of my life, listen to NPR (through the banging system), like bird watching, and use PCs. So let me outline why I choose PCs over Apple computers and let the comment section be filled with fodder discounting my way of thinking, primarily from Paul.

1. Cost: Let’s face it PCs are cheaper. The cheapest Apple computer offers nothing for a designer. The MacMini ($599 without a monitor) has a measly 2.0 GHz processor and 120 GB hard drive and the MacBook ($999 laptop) has a 2.13 GHz processor and 160 GB hard drive. Comparable priced PCs offer more for the same price or have many lower cost options. The Mac base models don’t provide enough RAM to even get your feet wet in AI or PS. Low-end PCs are filled with faster processors, huge hard drives and enough RAM to run a small town in Arkansas. Competition among PC companies has led to benefits for the buyer.

2. Speed: The fastest processor offered by Apple is 2.66 GHz in a desktop and 2.8 GHz in a laptop. Comparable priced PCs offer up to 4.0 GHz. Nothing bugs me more than a slow computer.

3. Options: When it comes to options PCs are the way to go. The options are endless. Especially in the areas of latest technologies and new hardware. This is currently evident with Apple in the lack of HD DVD options as well as updated wireless connection speeds.

4. Design: PCs are about as sexy as me in spandex. Apple wins here.

5. Windows Operating System: The Vista operating system is far superior to OSX offered by Apple. I’m sorry, I can’t say that. Apple wins here. I like Vista but all of the best options that are offered in Vista were swiped from Apple.

6. Software: The options for software are endless with PCs. Back in the early days of desktop publishing and early design work, this is an area where designers drew the line. Apple did have the superior software and operating system to run it. That is no longer the case. PCs now offer more RAM, larger buses, and just about everything offered by Apple can be run on a PC. Not true the other way.

7. Advertising: Apple’s commercials are better even though I feel sorry for the PC guy when the Apple dude makes him look stupid. For the record Steve Jobs is more cool than Bill Gates (despite Jobs’ collection of black mock turtle necks) but again I am able to relate better to Gates. I think it has everything to do with the geek in me and nothing to do with his billions of dollars. The commercials are hilarious.

Like I said, “I’m a practical guy” (I just quoted myself). I could drive something much cooler than a minivan, could have married a trophy wife (okay, debatable), could listen to a top-40 radio station, do anything that is cooler than bird watching (watching grass grow, trading stamps), and buy an Apple computer. I chose PCs.