Cultural Influence on Perception and Decision-Making of Typeface Selection and Application
Typography, like written and verbal languages, has a social meaning that is determined by both those who select typefaces and those who are considered consumers of the visual language of typography. These typographic selections in general have become acceptable to the public, right or wrong, through visual repetition and have become a standard in the use of typography. Arthur Berger wrote “We become acculturated and accumulate a storehouse of information that we use to make sense of things and to function in society…This means that each of us, in a given culture, has a great deal of commonly held information that we use to interpret messages we hear or see.” How much does culture influence the decision-making process of appropriate typographic selections? How do these decisions directly affect the perception of the general public regarding their own choices? According to my research, most Americans are not formally trained in the area of typography, instead their decisions regarding the selection of appropriate typefaces are primarily influenced by their perception of typography that surrounds them in daily culture. Through the use of a self-administered questionnaire, my research study gathered information from three distinct respondent groups: fine artists, undergraduate art students, and non-artists (a broad sampling of the general public). The overall consensus of the data strongly indicated that the general public base their typographic decision-making on their cultural semiotic understanding of typography within America. The process of decision-making is one that individuals make everyday and more people have the ability to add their own personal visual language into culture through the selection and application of typefaces for public consumption. This presentation explores how and why people make decisions and how their perceptions are influenced regarding the use of typography in America.
Keywords: Typography, Visual Language, Culture, Decision-making, Perception
Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Baylor University