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Lobster: The New Comic Sans?

Lobster. We have all seen it. We have noticed it because Lobster is a beautiful font, with its neat details, strong personality, and a large number of ligatures, carefully designed by Pablo Impallari.

The font was created in 2010 and introduced to the Google font library. It started popping up on websites, on packaging, in logos and ads. No one could resist it— just ask the 14.9 million people who have downloaded the font to date! Lobster was the hottest trend. The thing with Lobster is that it is so darn appealing and easy to use. You don’t have to be a designer to make the font itself look pretty, which was Impallari’s intention, as he wrote on his website:

“By having 26 lowercase characters, that gives you more than 600 possible combinations for each letter (and around 15600 for the whole alphabet). It’s next to impossible to make it always connect seamlessly with out compromising the shape that each letter was originally intended to be.”


The new comic sans?

But Lobster’s fantastic usability has become a problem—Lobster has lost its vitality. It has become so popular, people have started to call it “the new Comic Sans,” which is the opposite of a compliment in the design world. Comic Sans is a casual sans serif font created in 1994 by Vincent Connare. Connare’s font was created to mimic the look of classic comic book lettering. People fell hard for the hand-drawn, friendly look of the font. Since the 1990’s, Comic Sans has been continually used in situations not intended by the designer, such as on churches, hospital signs and wine labels. Unfortunately, it looks like Lobster is wandering down the same misleading road as Comic Sans. Lobster is being abused and overused. It really struck me two summers ago while I was visiting Sweden; Stockholm had lobster fever! Everywhere I turned Lobster was smiling back at me with its cute appearance. It was devastating to see Lobster on every subway ad and in every restaurant menu, not because Lobster is a hideous font, but rather the opposite—this lovely, elegant font is becoming a parody of itself.


It’s not Lobster’s fault!

As designers, it is our job to keep up with the latest trends and then use those trending elements in ways that set them apart in an aesthetically appealing way. This can be tricky, and believe me, takes practice! Designers have to be able to recognize what works and what does not. In many cases Lobster is the ideal choice. Unlike Comic Sans, the Lobster font is actually appealing, but good looks isn’t everything. When working with typography you have to follow the personality of the font (and lobster has a strong one). Lobster works perfectly fine as a retro or vintage element. And maybe we should just have kept it like that.

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