Design

Please, Get Rid of Comic Sans (Here's Looking at you Papyrus)

September 12, 2014


Juxtapoz has teamed with New England Outerwear co-founder Greg Cordeiro for a series of insights and takes in the world of industrial design and fashion, highlighting the diverse creative energy of young and established designers that we have been featuring in the print edition of Juxtapoz each month. Today, Greg talks the use of Comic Sans. And by use we mean overuse. And bad use. So don't use it. 

I know we have heard the rant a thousand times over by now, but I thought I might add my anger to the mix: Back in the 80’s, when a lot of weird styles and unfortunate designs were created, so was Papyrus. (Don’t get me wrong, I was birthed in the 80’s, so at least something awesome came out of it…ha!). The initial intent of the font was to combine an “old world style” feel with a modern flare. Since 82’ this beauty has been over-used across coffee shops, band logos, banners, and God knows where else.

Let’s get one thing straight; you are NOT creative if you use Papyrus in 2014. In fact, you are just the opposite. Anyone who has taken a half a second of a design or art related course would cringe at your “unique” use of Papyrus. Those distressed edges, and Calligraphic lines that end so beautifully, have become a hated descriptor that defines the typeface. This poor old dog has seen its day, so lets all do it a favor and put it to bed.

A bigger part of the over-use of certain fonts is that everyone thinks they are a designer. Our culture and technology have given the freedoms to any drunkard behind the wheel to go crazy with their local real estate agency logo. A splash of a terrible color and their name in Papyrus is a dangerous recipe that has become the norm. These folks need to do the proper thing and consult a trained and skilled designer in the field. For a very low cost, that terrible logo can be made right. I can drive a car, but I am not a race car driver, therefore, just because you can type and use the computer, does not make you a graphic artist.

There are currently multiple blogs devoted to the loathing of Papyrus and other fonts such as Comic Sans, Courier, Times New Roman, and more. That being said, I don’t want to steal all of the thunder with my complaining, so I asked a few designers how they felt about the typeface and others. Here is what folks had to say:

“Each one of these stylized fonts did serve a purpose before they were scooped up by the public and used for store logos, candy shop logos, overly-friendly inter-office messages, and even the infamous Avatar movie logo. Papyrus was meant to be the rustic, almost archaic alternative to the standard serif fonts. Comic Sans was meant for, wait for it, comics, although it severely lacks the italicized exaggeration we're used to in comics and adopts the more cutesy rounded feel we now loathe to see. There are plenty of other over-stylized fonts in the line-up these days (Chalkduster creeps up in many places as more Macs are adopted), but these two fonts in particular cover a two major holes in the standard list that most non-designers are looking for: approachable sophistication (Papyrus) and approachable fun (Comic Sans).

The culprit? Technology makes it incredibly easy for people to create their own brands, logos, and inter-office bulletins now, without taking consult from a designer, and the irony lies in the fact that while most are trying to find that perfectly unique font, the final result becomes all too similar to the hundreds of other attempts. We see those fonts pop up everywhere and because they are so distinguishable, they lose their meaning and sadly become the joke they are today. I'm curious to see what the next Papyrus and Comic Sans will be, and honestly wish I could give everyone a 10 minute typography crash course to open them up to a whole new world of fonts. Until then, I'll always be looking out for the next business to use Papyrus in their logo or on their restaurant menu, and smiling and shaking my head while thinking, "If they only knew...." —Danielle Ameen, Industrial and Graphic designer, developer

“So i've got so much hate for papyrus that i've actually come ‘round to liking it because I know how much it pisses people off. I purposely use comic sans as a header just to see people lose the plot with what I’ve done.” —Matt Duckett, Graphic and Apparel Designer

"Papyrus is the font that 40-year old divorcees use to make invites to their cocktail parties because they think they are designers and are clever."  Papyrus and comic sans should be banned from computers for all eternity. —Daniel Cordeiro,  Graphic Designer

I hope the next time you see Papyrus or any other over-used and un-creative font, you shudder like I do. Let’s step up our intellect and give those generic old Typeface’s a rest.

Embarrassingly Notable uses of Papyrus: 


-Avatar by James Cameron

-Lamb Of God Band Logo

-Edible Arrangements Logo

—Greg Cordeiro is the founder of New England Outerwear, and a new contributor to Juxtapoz Magazine.