Soon after its appearance on the font market more than twenty years ago, the Adobe Original Trajan was embraced by Hollywood. Now it seems to grace more movie posters than any other typeface. Its stately and classic character shapes made it the go-to choice for Oscar material. Yet in recent years the popular font has apparently fallen from grace, and a pretender to the throne is vying to take its place.
About a decade ago, after Yves Peters had joined Typophile’s Type Identification Board, he noticed that there was a real demand from people who wanted to know which typefaces were used on film posters. This inspired him to start writing ScreenFonts, regular reviews of film posters with a focus on the typefaces used in them. Originally published on the FontShop BeNeLux blog Unzipped, ScreenFonts was ported to The FontFeed when Yves Peters became its editor-in-chief. It quickly became one of the most popular series on FontShop’s design and typography blog. Now it has found a new home on FontShop News.
As Yves became more and more acquainted with the world of film posters through his review series, he started noticing things – picking up trends, and distinguishing specific (typo)graphic tricks. As he further explored the medium he discovered how film posters use their own visual shortcuts as a way to communicate more efficiently with the intended audience. This codified language is not limited to images and colour schemes, but is also applied to type styles that identify film genres.
However one typeface defies all categories – Trajan.
After hearing one too many times that Trajan was the “movie poster font” without any evidence to back up this claim, he went on an epic journey (pardon the pun) to investigate if Trajan truly was the most-used typeface in the history of cinema posters, and if indeed it helped films “win Oscars”. The story of his investigation will not only make you discover many hidden facets of typography, but most of all, as Yves says at the beginning of his presentation: “I will tell you very little that you don’t already know; you simply just don’t realise it yet.”
Yves Peters is a graphic designer / rock drummer / father of three who tries to be critical about typography without coming across as a snob. Former editor-in-chief of The FontFeed, he has found a new home on FontShop News. Yves writes about type and talks at conferences. His ability to identify most typefaces on sight is utterly useless in daily life.