Tuesday, 8:25am
14 February 2012

Type Tuesday: Cooper Black

armin vit
type tuesday
Graphic design
Visual culture

Cooper Black is jovial, curvy and shows up everywhere. What’s not to love?

Admiring Cooper Black is like being the most popular kid in school and falling in love with the ugliest person in the class, writes Armin Vit in Eye 48.

Sharing this secret, telling people – your friends – about it is hard, and must be done gradually, little by little, until you are comfortable enough to be seen in public together – holding hands, laughing, kissing, using Cooper Black.

I love Cooper Black T-shirt

At the beginning there will be guilt and shame. Some mockery is to be expected, but the rewards will be many and the pleasures enormous. The first step in fully understanding Cooper Black is to accept the fact that it is ugly: sexy ugly. There is no reason to feel attracted to it at first glance. The proportions are bizarre, the serifs are some crossbreed of whale and polar bear, its weight is too heavy at minimum and the ‘o’ is tilted beyond belief.

Cooper Black

How then, can a typeface with so much against it be so popular? So coveted and desired? That’s easy to answer. Cooper Black has personality, charisma, love. It’s jovial, good-natured, approachable. It is surprising, turning up in the strangest places: dentists’ offices, laundromats, restaurants, markets, gift shops. Everywhere. Everyday. In our lives. It’s Cooper Black.



Cooper Black typeface, designed by Oswald Bruce Cooper of Bertsch & Cooper, Chicago. First released by Barnhart Brothers & Spindler Type Founders in 1922.

With help from Herman.

Armin Vit’s ‘Devotion’ article was first published in Eye 48 (below), which uses Cooper Black as its ‘guest’ display typeface.

See also ‘Telling and selling’ feature in Eye 7.


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. Eye 81, has the theme of ‘Designers and clients’; Eye 82 will be on press next week.