Known throughout the world as a prolific type foundry, House Industries has made a considerable impact on the world of design. House Industries fonts scream from billboards, wish happy whatever from tens of thousands of greeting cards, serve as the basis for consumer product logos and add elements of style to a wide range of mainstream media. In their illustrious career, House artists have mastered a large cross-section of design disciplines. Their typography deftly melds cultural, musical and graphic elements. From early forays into distressed digital alphabets to sophisticated type and lettering systems, House Industries’ work transcends graphic conventions and reaches out to a broad audience. What ultimately shines in the House Industries oeuvre is what always conquers mediocrity: a genuine love for their subject matter.
The House aesthetic has always been an unconscious one. Although a couple of us have fancy college art degrees, we’ve always considered ourselves blue-collar designers. The fact is, we were attracted to design before we knew what it really was. Exposure to graphic design came through assorted American sub-cultural phenomena from the past few decades, such as the hardcore music scene, skateboarding and video games. It also didn’t hurt to have pinstriping dads who built hot rods and older brothers who collected Mad magazine. Not surprisingly, mimicking Santa Cruz deck graphics was incredibly formative, as were the countless hours spent perfecting the interlocking letter forms of Priest and Maiden logos on notebook covers and jean jackets. We absorbed the lettering that surrounded us, even though it would be years until we were schooled enough to recognize that the Thrasher masthead was a stylized rendition of Banco.
As we became more formally educated about graphic design, our heroes appeared to be conspicuously absent from the history books. Where was Al Jaffee and Don Martin who illustrated serials for Mad or Norm Saunders who painstakingly painted many of the Wacky Packages stickers? Their work was not irrelevant or disposable; as far as we were concerned it represented real design. It wasn’t overly clever “design for designers;” it was honest commercial art accessible to everyday people, like us.