Mike Parker, 85, passed away this Sunday. You may not recognize his name, but he’s the brainchild behind one of the most widely used font ever: Helvetica. American Airlines, Staples, Skype, Microsoft, Toyota are just some of the big names using the storied font.
When you talk about the design of Haas Neue Grotesk or Helvetic, what it’s all about is the interrelationship of the negative shape, the figure-ground relationship, the shapes between characters and within characters, with the black, if you like, with the inked surface… I mean you can’t imagine anything moving; it is so firm. It is not a letter that bent to shape; it’s a letter that lives in a powerful matrix of surrounding space. It’s… oh, it’s brilliant when it’s done well.
Parker’s accomplishments didn’t end at Helvetica. He was responsible for more than 1,100 fonts during his lifetime and was hailed as a legendary designer and typographer.