Avenir: Typeface Specimen Poster


Print | Adobe Illustrator | 2015 | Individual Project

About the Project

As an introduction to type, this project gave the opportunity to showcase the design, history, and unique features of a typeface. Through prior lessons in color, document hierarchy, and typography, we aimed to create a type specimen poster which portrayed all of this information in an organized manner. Some of the design constraints included the name of the typeface, year founded, designer, full character set, and an overview of the font’s history. The typeface itself was picked from a random pool, and it was a lot of fun researching different features to produce iterations.

Project Process


avenir_poster-02 avenir_poster-03

There wasn’t much for these iterations. These posters were initial points for experimenting with hierarchy and placement to see what features I enjoyed and what I wanted to completely ignore. It was also a chance to play around with the typeface to learn what I wanted the poster to finally show about the font.

Initial Design

avenir_poster-01 avenir_poster-04

Because of its heritage and shape, Avenir is often referred to as the “type of the future”. A lot of its features are inherited from Erbar and Futura, giving the font a very modern and clean feel. These qualities inspired me to create a minimalist poster to hint at its simple appearance.

My first thought was to create a large focal point that could showcase the features of Avenir, such as its stroke thicknesses and shortened ascenders. I did this by enlarging different letters to see the design of each character and ultimately decided to showcase the letter “A” for Avenir. After developing the focal point, I wanted to present the text in a simple yet effective way.

The design on the left was basically an experiment for letter features, which is why it’s pretty static and doesn’t have much going on. I used these features and my inspiration for the font to include more description and organize the design on the right.

Even though I didn’t include all the requirements for this iteration (designer name and full character set), it still was a good opportunity for me to play around with a grid system, colors, and placement overall. The main thing that bothered me about this stage was that all the iterations were made through experimentation and quick analysis of a few features. I didn’t feel like the poster really depicted the meaning of Avenir, leaving its personality and meaning abandoned by a few static letters and text.


avenir_1_refine avenir_new

From the peer review session, many classmates agreed with my concerns and ideas. It was pretty unanimous that they liked the idea of a focal point, but there wasn’t much going on with the organization of the poster. Nothing really helped convey the features of Avenir.

In the left design, I decided to develop my previous grid system and present more features of the typeface. I made the hierarchy a little more clear and the focal point more minimal. I created the focal point by rotation two “Qs”, since the font has this letter designed in an atypical and non-geometric fashion. This decision also allowed me to create a stronger document hierarchy with centered font name and also allowed for the uppercase character set to be placed above the description. Even with this design, I struggled with description placement and felt like there wasn’t much presentation for the font’s features.

For the iteration on the right, I used a similar grid system, but made it smaller and shifted to a corner. Some of the defining features of this iteration are the column with the character set, the colored “A”, and the contrasted title on top. The year and designer name replaced the Avenir typeface name in previous iterations to maintain a similar hierarchy. I decided to separate this poster with another column because I had a lot of difficulty deciding where to place the character set. So, I decided to make the set disjoint from the rest of the poster and placed each character boxed in a column. The color of the column contrasted with the main background color to develop multiple points to concentrate. The colorful “A” was created as the main focal point, built from different letters with distributed colors to help display the different structures of letters in the character set, such as the non-geometric serifs and thicknesses. The title itself was placed at the top and contrasted with background colors to help stand out.

From class feedback and self-review, there were a few major issues. The biggest one was the separation with column. Many people, including myself, realized that this divide separated the poster too much and gave the feeling of “two posters in one”, going against the minimalist and simple mindset I set out in the beginning. The title also appeared as an attempt at a contemporary touch, but didn’t succeed in any way.

Final Iteration

To remedy these issues, I backtracked and focused on my original goal – to produce a minimalist poster that showcased the features and presented information in a simple way. All my posters seemed to be experimentations and slight attempts that put bits and pieces of what I actually wanted.

For the final piece, I used a slightly-modified version of the grid system from previous iterations. I liked the idea of small, four-columned text because that gave a lot of room to develop my focal point and present other content. I also really liked the colored “A” from the refined iteration. Many of my friends outside the course who I showed my iterations to supported that element as well, so I decided to center and make that my main focal point.

From these two main points, everything else fell into place. The font name fell right below the focal point to maintain a strong hierarchy, and the room on the bottom was easily filled by the required information. I partitioned the designer name and year to one side and the full character set to the other. I also played with the background and text color (switching the black and white); after peer feedback, I decided to keep it as a black background with white text.


In the end, my poster seemed to be a combination of bits and pieces from my refined iteration. It included drastic changes from pre-experimentation and the beginning stoic designs. But, by trying to maintain the constant minimalist theme to present the futuristic and modern personality of Avenir, I feel like every element and placement in the final iteration help to portray just that.

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