Around the world, only a few hundred people make a living as fulltime typeface designers. Two of them happen to live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, population 167,000, where they've embarked on an ambitious project to distill the city's artistic and entrepreneurial spirit into a font called Chatype. The goal is to help the city and its businesses forge a distinct and cohesive identity through custom typeface, sending a visual message to the world that Chattanooga—a rapidly growing city in the midst of a creative renaissance—is “more than just your average Southern town.”
While it was Clint Eastwood’s Chrysler commercial that became the year's most-talked-about Super Bowl ad, the people of Michigan played witness to a local firestorm after Republican former U.S. representative Pete Hoekstra unveiled a new campaign ad aimed at unseating current Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow. Accusing Stabenow of supporting legislation that sent American jobs to China, Hoekstra's ad featured a young Chinese woman riding her bike through rice paddy fields, speaking broken English to the camera: "Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good."
Created by The Prosper Group, an ad agency that predominantly works with Republican politicians, the television commercial accompanied a similarly themed website, debbiespenditnow.com, that has since been taken down. But unfortunately for Hoekstra, the Internet never forgets, as the screenshot above shows. The website featured stereotypical imagery of China—dragons, paper lanterns, the Great Wall—surrounding several facts and figures. The site design also featured several typefaces that mimic East Asian calligraphy. Known in graphic design as "chop suey fonts," this style of typeface is an American invention that has long been used to sell China to western audiences. With its roots in turn-of-the-century San Francisco Chinatown, chop suey fonts prevailed as an intentional misrepresentation of China used for dramatic effect by graphic designers, Chinese immigrants, and now, politicians.