15 October 2007

Arts Corner: Helvetica

On a normal occasion, this would have been a great documentary.

Sadly, I saw it on Saturday night at the Tyneside Cinema, as part of Design Event (linked in to the Dott 07 festival which is currently running on Tyneside). Billed as the documentary plus a talk from Ben Drury (record-sleeve designer) who would "introduce the film and talk about his work" it sounded like a top evening out for sad people who like fonts.

Lots of people showed up (mostly design students bearing notebooks - you can spot the designer glasses and black jumpers a mile off), and were shoe-horned into an overheated auditorium. The lights dimmed. Mr Drury got up to speak.

Now, I might be a bit out of touch with what happens at design events, being only a suburban nonentity, but I'd kind of assumed that the designer would talk a bit about the film, give us a bit of context about its importance, talk about his use of fonts and illustrate it all with a few pictures. Maybe 15-20 minutes, tops. What I hadn't bargained on was an hour-long trawl through a selection of photos of "things that mean something to me" (including endless record sleeves wot I have designed) with commentary in a monotone.

Reader, I took the only way out. I fell asleep.

Which put me in a rather bad mood for the film once I woke up and realised that I could have done this at home for rather less than £7.50 in rather greater comfort.

The film's not bad. It's got really good bits (Eric Spiekermann), it's got fairly dull bits, and it's about half an hour too long (although, that could be due to the fact that when you've already been sat there for an hour, bored witless, your capacity for boredom plummets).

I think it may be time to go back to the Hollywood blockbuster - Ratatouille, anyone?

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