As we’ve moved away from hand-lettering movie posters, design considerations have changed, both for better and for worse. The video below explores the visual clichés that let designers clue in an audience to tone through typography. It also looks at how one particular typeface, Trajan, became the default for movie posters, and in doing so, went from signifying an epic story to being more of a blank slate for any type of movie.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


6 Thoughts on "Design Matters: How One Typeface Came to Dominate Movie Posters"

Sort of opposite of the little-known Bod Marley track: I Shot The Serif…

A quick Google search indicated “The Shape of Water – MB Vintage Medium.
Lady Bird – Amador Regular.
Get Out – Helvetica Neue 93 – Black Extended.
Dunkirk – Formula Extra Bold.
Darkest Hour – Rama Gothic M Heavy.
Phantom Thread – Garamond Premier Pro Light Display.
Three Billboards – Biko Bold.
The Post – Helvetica Neue Bold.”

Fits with the idea that Trajan has become so overused it’s lost all impact and has fallen out of favor, at least for high quality efforts.

Interesting. I wonder if anyone has studied the design of academic book covers in the same way.

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