An About [type] Face

I often come across Pharmacists who are quite indignant about people thinking all we do is put labels on boxes. That people don't have a deeper understanding of our professionalism, the skills and expertise that we contribute to patient care. So I wanted to give just one example (I have many more) of when I have learned of my superficial understanding complete ignorance of someone else's work.

Imagine I'm at a party and I get talking to someone. The conversation starts with the boring but safe "so what do you do?". I say "Pharmacist", they assume I'm work in a community pharmacy dispensing drugs. They say "Typeface designer", I say...I don't know what I'd say. Probably "what does that involve?" because I genuinely have no idea.

I don't know if you've ever given any thought to how the fonts we use and consume every day came into being, but I will be honest and say that I had given it exactly zero thought. I hadn't even considered it as a 'thing 'before. Thankfully my ignorance was not exposed by an awkward interaction at a party, it was revealed to me through watching Abstract on Netflix. The episode on typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler.

It turns out that all of the typography we see, be it a street sign, a text message, a novel, a campaign poster, the numbers in a lift...all of it is the output of professional designers. All of the digital fonts available to us have been carefully designed and crafted by people, inspired by a conceptual idea. The creativity involved in turning such a concept into something tangible is really quite remarkable. But it's far from just a creative exercise, there's precision and science that underpins the techniques. And lets not even get into the subtle differences between fonts in the same family depending on their intended application of use.

So the next time you're confronted with someone who thinks a Pharmacist is a person who sticks labels on boxes, stop for a moment and consider how much you know about the work of all the industries that you interface with every day. To many people, health is just another industry. They take things for granted and accept the artefacts of care at face value. And that's ok. Don't be indignant. Engage them in conversation.


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