END BAD DESIGN. This week: Travis Stearns

END BAD DESIGN. This week: Travis Stearns

This week’s designer : Travis Stearns, Carmichael Lynch

What is your go-to font or font combination as of late? Can you provide a screenshot?

I use Univers a lot. I recently saw some work by Japanese designer Harata HeiQuiti that combined Didot / Bodoni with Franklin Gothic so I’ve been into that as well.

Why do you like that combination?

I think the stroke thicknesses are similar yet there’s still an interesting contrast between them (Didot, Bidoni, and Franklin Gothic). Fonts in Use is a good resource.

What font do you think is overused and about to go out of style?

A lot of designers hate Gotham. I think it’s well designed, but has been used too often and too poorly recently so I think we’re tucking that one away for a bit. But also novelty fonts, fonts used in irony.

What do you wish you could tell new designers to quit doing?

Stop making retro kitsch references. Especially to design that existed in a time and under circumstances that make no sense in the current context. Some design is timeless and I’m not talking about that stuff. But if you want something to look screenprinted, learn to screenprint. I think a lot of designers confuse old with good and what’s appropriate for the project. For instance, you see a ton of 19th century letterpress fonts used on the web. While some of these may be updates to fonts of that era, I don’t think they are appropriate for the web unless they have been designed specifically for the screen.

What’s the next trend?

Design borrows a lot from art. I think we’re already seeing a lot of generative art in design work; work that has it’s base in software, programming, algorithms. Social design is picking up as more creatives are able to emancipate themselves from serving the society of the spectacle and focus on projects that are speculative. Timelessness. Can that be a trend?

Which trend is about to be over?

The 90s. Collage. At first some interesting things started happening because people realized there was tons of material just lying around (National Geographic magazines) that had never been shared via the internet, but now it has become obvious that there’s not a lot of criteria for what makes one collage better than another. I think it’s great that a lot of people became more familiar with art/design by making DIY collage work and hopefully it encourages them to go deeper, beyond the comfort zone of ironic juxtaposition.

What designer do you want to turn our readers on to?

Metahaven is a studio for design and research based in Amsterdam. A great deal of their work is concerned with design’s role in geopolitics and online identity. I admire them as designers that are creating critical work as a reflection on our global society.


Becky Lang has learned a lot more about design from sitting next to a designer at work than from reading any book explaining what ascenders and descenders are. END BAD DESIGN is her attempt to give everyone that access to designer opinions.