Futura

Fonts as an expression of culture and identity

by Slanted

Paul Renner

1878 - 1956

Paul Friedrich August Renner (9 August 1878 - 25 April 1956) was a german graphic artist, painter, author, teacher and typeface designer and one of the pioneers of modern typography.

He was born in Wernigerode, and died in Hödingen.He is best known for his design of the Futura typeface (1927),which became one of the most successful and most-used types of the 20th century and still highly popular today. He had a strict Protestant upbringing, being educated in a 19th-century Gymnasium. He wasbrought up to have a very German sense of leadership, of duty and responsibility. He disliked abstract art and many forms of modern culture, such as jazz, cinema, and dancing. But equally, he admired the functionalist strain in modernism. Renner was a prominent member of the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation). Two of his major texts are Typografie als Kunst (Typography as Art) and Die Kunst der Typographie (The Art of Typography). He created a new set of guidelines for good book design and invented the popular Futura, a geometric sans-serif font used by many typographers throughout the 20th century and today. The typeface Architype Renner is based upon Renner's early experimental exploration of geometric letterforms for the Futura typeface, most of which were deleted from the face's character set before it was issued. Tasse, a 1994 typeface is a revival of Renner's 1953 typeface Steile Futura.

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NAZI

GERMANY

Swipe

Paul Renner's

Kulturbol-
schewismus?

Even before 1932, Renner made his opposition to the Nazis very clear, notably in his book “Kulturbolschewismus?” (Cultural Bolshevism?). He was unable to find a German publisher, so it was published by his Swiss friend Eugen Rentsch.

Even before 1932, Renner made his opposition to the Nazis very clear, notably in his book “Kulturbolschewismus?” (Cultural Bolshevism?). He was unable to find a German publisher, so it was published by his Swiss friend Eugen Rentsch. After the Nazis seized power in March 1933, Renner was arrested and dismissed from his post in Munich in 1933, and subsequently emigrated to Switzerland. Soon after the book’s publication, it was withdrawn from the German book market, until a photo-mechanical reprint was issued by Stroemfeld Verlag, Frankfurt am Main/Basel, in 2003. The new edition included comments by Roland Reuss and Peter Staengle (a main source for these notes).

At a time Hitler and Nazi Germany ideologies were on the rise, typefaces were a string indicator of culture and national identity. roman typefaces were rising in popularity, and they were becoming the standard text for printed documents when previously, German Blackletter was the default style. As a way to hold on to German identity the Germans pushed for the use of Blackletter typefaces over Roman.

When the Nazi regime rose into power in 1933, they utilized Blackletter typefaces to further promote German national identity. They determined Fraktur to be the true German type. They rejected modern type styles like Futura, which went on to become popular throughout the world, influenced by the Bauhaus and the English Arts and Craft Movements

Futura made appearances on Nazi documentation, such as the “Organisationbuch der NSDAP”, an informational handbook about membership to the Nazi Party and posters promoting “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art), the exhibition that was created by the Nazis to shame modern art. In 1941, the Nazi regime deemed blackletter typefaces to have Jewish heritage due to the Nazi’s perception of the typeface looking too similar to Hebrew, and therefore banned Fraktur and any other traditional German handwriting. Roman typography, which included Futura became the new standard due to its superior legibility over blackletter typography.

So the nazis actively used fonts as an expression of culture and representation of their identity. This means that fonts are commonly used as an expression of culture and identity. Which makes Font selection, use of color, and other design choices are directly inspired by the visual language of their cultural surroundings, which reveals typography as cultural expression (Villagomez). Nikki Villagomez realized intensive visual research across various American signage environments, which proves that typography can be used to reflect unique characteristics of different cultures and that can vary within the same country. Each unique typography landscape is defined by the residents, that see certain type aspects as representational of their day-to-day life. Cultural characteristics, economic status, and geographic location are important factors that influence the use of typography (Villagomez).

Not only geography can play a role in the typography of a culture also political views can have an impact. Fonts play a big role in conveying a message and/or emotion to the reader. One clear example could be the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald trump.

Hillary Clinton’s logo, although trashed by many designers, has a modern typography with an arrow that represents embracing modernism and being progressive. Which represents the democrat values.

As of Donald Trump with his famous “Make america great again” baseball caps. His baseball cap is iconic for the former president and is a huge part of his “brand”. His font has more of a primal and earnest tone of voice. The reason for this is the font that is used, Times New Roman. So as you may see typography can divide people. Once again an example that fonts are much more than just “fonts”, they can really convey a serious subject such as a political opinion. So maybe we should consider the power and influence that a font can have on our lives a bit more often.

Make your own protest poster here

As you have read in this longread fonts are commonly used in political situations and have a amazing history behind them. But this time you are not protesting for anything political, you are protesting for fonts. You will give the fonts a voice with this poster, for example by sharing your poster on instagram, to show that a font is not just a font, to get them the acknowledgement they deserve.

Choose your background color

Drag the images around, everything in the black box will be visible in your poster.

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