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Designed by Harmann Zapf in the mid 1950’s in Germany. Optima is classified as a “Sans-Serif” but it has a slight smelling near thr terminals of easch character giving it a slight serif feel. The italic form is more an oblique then an italic. The capital letters seem based on traditional Roman models, just like many serif faces.


McCain’s Optimum Look

Can a typeface truly represent a presidential candidate? It depends on the typeface and the candidate. John McCain’s printed material relies on Optima, a modernistic sans serif designed by the German type designer Hermann Zapf in 1958 that was popular among book and magazine designers during the 1970s.

“Optima is one of the worst pre-computer typefaces ever designed. It was created to satisfy everybody’s needs. A straightforward, no-nonsense, no-embellishment face, it comes in regular and bold but little character can be found in either weight.

Optima is not inappropriate for use by Senator McCain.” -Seymour Chwast

“The moment of typographic truth will come when Senator McCain picks a vice presidential running mate and two names have to be combined on banners and bumper stickers. By choosing Optima, a rather distinctive typeface, he may have seriously limited his options.

I set the possible names in a bold weight of Optima caps and certain things became clear. HUCKABEE looks awkward in Optima, and ROMNEY is afflicted with the same difficult ‘EY’ combination that has plagued the current vice presidency. Perhaps because Optima is a German typeface, the word SCHWARZENEGGER looks predictably good.

Although it’s German, Optima took its inspiration from Quattrocento inscriptional lettering in the cathedrals of Florence and Siena, which may explain why GIULIANI looks so simpatico. In the end, however, my research suggests that the optimal running mate — so long as you don’t have to typeset her first name — is RICE.” Matthew Carter

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