Breaking the rules for type selection

Bethany Heck’s take on using a plethora of typefaces without diluting the message

“I never realized there is a generally accepted rule to limit the number of typefaces you use to just two,” says Bethany Heck. “Once I heard this, it became a challenge to incorporate more than three typefaces into my designs!”

This kind of rule-breaking is what Bethany Heck, a designer in Seattle, has embraced, starting with a delightful branding project that started around baseball scorebooks, the Eephus League.

Eephus League montage

A montage of designs from the Eephus League project.

“What seems to work for me is finding something that’s really inspiring and using it for something else, on an entirely different platform”. One inspiration for the Eephus League website was paint cans.

Her work combines a rich typographical palette with very clear web design. Examples range from serious corporate work for the IBM Mobile Innovation Lab to an evocative site about wood type, End Grain. Now Heck is working on Power BI, a Microsoft data visualization service. (BI stands for business intelligence.)

Hypothetical branding for the IBM Mobile Innovation Lab

A “fictional-hypothetical-dreamical branding system” for the IBM Mobile Innovation Lab.

“I’ve never been locked into just being a web designer or a branding designer,” she says. And her design indicates that these are all components of the same thing. For example, before she adopts any typeface for a project, “I always check to see if it’s available as webfonts”.

In her presentation at the Typographics conference, she’ll take us through the way she handles type. She pairs typefaces like wine with food. And she shows how a wider typographical palette can create a more individual design. This makes for distinct branding, but requires a keen design sense.

“In terms of the typeface choices, I follow what I love,” she says. “There are certain type designers and foundries that I keep going to back to for new stuff”.

Eephus League ticket

A ticket produced for supporters of the Eephus League. “I came up with the ticket design while watching an episode of Downton Abbey one night, so if you’ve ever got a creative block, maybe stuffy British people are the cure!”

Some of the approaches Heck is planning to discuss at Typographics:

“I’m in the process of redesigning the website of my side business,” says Heck, “and I’m purposefully trying to use as many typefaces as possible. I’m currently at eight”.

“I want to go over the process I used and how the palette of the brand has evolved, and hopefully make the argument that all the faces work together with one voice,” she says. “Putting my money where my mouth is, as it were!”

Bethany Heck’s session at the conference should be useful for any typographer. She’s not just showing great type, she’s showing how she uses it.

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