Saturday, 17 April 2010

Hebrew typographic art

Design Sponge recently featured the website of an Israeli-American artist who goes by the name Alef Betty who makes Hebrew typographic posters.

I'm often dismayed by how impossible it is to find an elegant typeface for Hebrew. I love the near-perfect logic and lilting melody of Hebrew, but I usually find the actual written language horrifyingly ugly. I suppose Hebrew is disadvantaged by being a sibling of Arabic, which has breathtaking, beautiful, flowing curves, and a vibrant tradition of calligraphy.

So I'm very surprised by how great these posters look. The artist hasn't designed new typefaces specially for the work, but has used very typical, canonical fonts. I guess it must be the composition of the pieces that draws out the unique charm of each typeface. The example above uses a very traditional typeface called Frank Ruhl, which I'm pretty sure I've seen dozens of times before, even with my limited experience of Hebrew. I usually find the lumpy, bumpy flourishes obtrusive, more like blemishes than flourishes. But here, with the letters milling about on the page like fish in an aquarium, they look animated and charming.

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