A deco style numbers font from Joshua Mayfield, a calligraphic text family by District, a ligature packed display face from Nootype, a contemporary stencil by Atlas Font Foundry, a family of contradictions from Typotheque, a flexible gothic digitized for the first time by Hamilton Wood Type, and a single face with 9 fonts within from DSType.
Designed by Joshua Mayfield
Originally inspired by the numerals on a vintage clock face, Roloi is a layered numbers font in the deco lettering style, and includes a full set of automatic clock symbols.
Designed by Galen Lawson
The natural follow-up to the popular Fair Sans — now a text family based on the calligraphic structure and casual construction of its predecessor.
Designed by Nico Inosanto
Fitigraf is a mix between a classical serif font and graffiti street art.
Designed by Christoph Dunst
Designed by Nikola Djurek
The Lumin Family includes slab-serif, sans-serif, condensed and display typefaces, all of which play with the idea of contradiction.
Designed by James Todd
The Unit Gothic series was originally released by Hamilton Manufacturing Co. in 1907. This set of 7 fonts was designed to aid in press room efficiency and its incremental variation in widths gave poster printers unprecedented flexibility in fitting copy while using consistently harmonious fonts.
Designed by Dino dos Santos & Pedro Leal
Diversa is a typeface that takes a very different path from the most fonts, both in terms of appearance and usability. Diversa is a single typeface with 9 fonts within, containing 2760 glyphs, divide in 9 stylistic sets.
A no-nonsense sans from Lineto, a layered type system by Latinotype, a charming hand made face from Voltage LTD, delicate and flowing curves courtesy of Typesenses, a contemporary sans by VirusFonts, a classic titling serif from Domahoka, a Swiss inspired sans by Wordshape, and a modern sans from Nootype.
Designed by Laurenz Brunner
Strikes a balance between conceptual rigour, skilled workmanship and measured idiosyncrasy, resulting in a no-nonsense sans-serif text font with unmistakable character yet universal appeal.
Designed by Daniel Hernández & Paula Nazal Selaive
A typeface made of layers — Trend is trending.
Designed by Ray Fenwick
Painted on a wall by an eccentric Canadian with a paint roller. The result is an unusual combination of straight, evenly weighted strokes and rough, handmade charm.
Designed by Sabrina Mariela Lopez
Wishes Script offers a complete range of possibilities: frames, ribbons, hearts, flowers, ornaments, swashes, endings, ligatures and all the alternates you need.
Designed by Jonathan Abbott, Jonathan Barnbrook, and Julián Moncada
A contemporary sans-serif typeface with an agreeable character, Doctrine Sans is the moderate comrade of the display typeface Doctrine Stencil. By blending elements of twentieth-century neo-grotesque, humanist and geometric styles, Doctrine is at once universal and idiosyncratic.
Designed by Mark Ho-Kane
A classic serif titling face ideal for setting at large sizes; slightly condensed, light, with a very fine weight on its thinnest strokes.
Designed by Ian Lynam
A family of 40 weights of neutral, yet formally nuanced grotesk typefaces that takes inspiration from Helvetica, Akzidenz Grotesk, Univers and the original metal types from Switzerland, yet had a slightly larger x-height for more pronounced legibility.
Designed by Nico Inosanto
The sans-serif version of Selfico, designed by Nico Inosanto in 2013.
I’ve always been fascinated by typefaces based on fluid handwriting, and as an amateur calligrapher of copperplate, I decided to design a display font based on this experience.
Origins and background
My first approach to this project began with the lettering I designed for BoMo, a graphic design studio, in spring 2011. It’s based on a brief: feminine, professional and sensibility. The solution came as a well-crafted series of ‘calligraphic letters’ with high contrast, the B, the M and the o, combined as two connected syllables. During the design process I discovered the significant potential that this idea could have if it were developed as a typeface. Thus, almost one year later, I began to sketch it, and two years after I released it!. It evolved from the initial three letters of the logo but with differences: slightly less condensed proportions, different designs for the two upper case letters and a new construction of the connecting strokes.
It combines a sense of script with geometric and slightly condensed structure resulting in idiosyncratic curves, yet with a retro-chic twist. These might probably be the most attractive features, because all together they give a very strong identity to words.
During my research I review a lot of previous & excellent typefaces sharing a similar idea, but any of them had this sense of a connected and upright script. Somehow, Magasin explores and pays tribute to the charm and playness of typefaces that were designed during the 1930s. Some inspiring references are Corvinus, released by Bauer in 1935 (designed by Imre Reiner in 1934), Quirinus (Alessandro Butti,1939) and Fluidum (1951), a kind of non-connected script version of Quirinus, also designed by Butti for the Nebiolo foundry.*
The design principle
Magasin is based on the idea of designing a display typeface inspired by the pointed pen calligraphy with geometric, upright and connected construction and high contrast. What I wanted to show is the obvious accuracy that can be seen in any calligraphic work, but with a close attention to the creative combination of linked letters when creating words, bringing a lettering flavor.
1. the wavy shapes to emphasize the rhythm
2. four different ways of linking letters, always merging at half of the x-height
3. loops and drops reminiscent of pointed pen calligraphy
4. the angled ending stroke
The first versions of Magasin were more experimental; I gave an extraordinary leadership to the connection strokes, and characters as ‘m’ and ‘n’, had a different starting stroke, but soon I found it problematic.The following versions were based on the exploration and refinement of some characters and the different connection possibilities, with the goal of balancing the spacing, a process that also led to the design of alternative glyphs.
At a certain point, I was not sure if it could become something usable or just a personal amusement; some connections were looking really weird but others just came automatically and in a very beautiful way. So I wrote a list of necessary ligatures to balance the text flow, and another of the non-convenient combinations that later became ‘exceptions’ in the programming. I also designed a reduced set of secondary alternates (ss02) and an out-strokes version of the ‘c’, ‘ç’, ‘e’ and ‘q’, to gave a better ending to sentences or words. Therefore, it implied a bunch of OT programming for a correct use and performance. I’ve explained this all in more detail in the PDF specimen I designed.
Capital and Swashes
The capital letters appeared much later, they are a bit experimental and very much inspired by the copperplate calligraphy mixed with some cancelleresca features.
While testing it, I discovered that Magasin could be very useful in a lot of applications, and for many various moods; moreover, the swash capitals were intentionally designed to ‘pimp’ words and provide many possibilities, but regular capitals can also perform better in certain situations.
And finally… why this name?
I only chose the name at the end of the process. It sounds like ‘magazine’ in English, but actually Magasin is the word for ‘store’ in French, because I always imagined Magasin used in magazine headlines, but also for brands and packaging. I’ve enjoyed working on Magasin immensely, and I have learned a lot, as always happens with every typeface I design. Because I love and collect old specimens, my typeface and the specimen are also a celebration and a tribute to all those works of art and their designers.
Author: Laura Meseguer
A bright slab serif by Typofonderie, a massive system from Typonine, a text face with flavour and a hardworking family from Rosseta Type, a casual face by HVD Fonts, an expansive family from Lost Type Co-op, a type designer’s typeface by Emigre, a warm and rugged face from Fountain, a geometric slab serif by The Northern Block, and a humanist grotesque from Atlas.
Designed by Xavier Dupré
Designed by Nikola Djurek with Marko Hrastovec
A type system with several hundred styles. Choosing between fifteen different serif shapes, two construction models, high or low contrast, and adding stencil or inline effects results in unique, expressive variations of Audree’s letterforms.
Designed by Ross Mills
A text face with flavour, suitable for recording oral literature and for extended reading in books and academic texts.
Designed by Elena Schneider
A hardworking Latin-Arabic type family with an uncomplicated, regular appearance that conveys a crisp, businesslike tone.
Designed by Hannes von Döhren
A friendly, casual type family intended to be used where a pleasant feeling should be conveyed. Mikado has a positive “out-of-the-box-appearance” in big sizes, but because of its straight architecture the fonts are also very legible in smaller sizes and longer texts in print or on screen.
Designed by James T. Edmondson and Trevor Baum
A relic; a ghost from an era where letters were hand-painted on wood and glass. Made up of five weights and two styles, Mission Gothic is one of the most expansive type families available from Lost Type Co-op.
Designed by Zuzana Licko
A type designer’s typeface. It’s about the craft of typeface design and the particular details and effects that type designers fret over.
Designed by Rúben Dias
A typeface built around a shape that Portuguese designer Rúben Dias calls a “squircle” — neither square nor circle. Taca is warm and rugged, as if it was molded from clay or carved from stone.
Designed by Mariya V. Pigoulevskaya
A geometric slab serif designed as an alternative to other slab style fonts available on the market. Hapna was inspired by the baseball culture and the graphic language of the early 1950s.
Designed by Christoph Dunst
The humanist grotesque typeface family optimized for office environments within the largely extended award winning Novel Collection.
In the 1980s, the German Democratic Republic’s state television broadcasting service commissioned Axel Bertram to develop a custom typeface. The result was “Videtur,” a remarkably independent serif design that was intended to define the on-screen graphics of East German television for years to come. But by the beginning of the 1990s, the GDR no longer existed. With it went its state broadcasting service – and Videtur, too. Another 20 years in the now reunified Germany would have to pass by before Andreas Frohloff could finally help bring a modernized FF Videtur to market.
Whenever a particularly unique type design challenge arose in the eastern half of divided Germany, it wasn’t long before eyes began to fall on Axel Bertram. Already when it had come to the design of magazines and book covers, he had refused to be satisfied with the limited range of typefaces available in the socialist state. Unlike many of his colleagues, who simply copied western models, he drew new type and lettering commissions according to his own ideas:
“The typefaces that came from the west were often photographed; then their letters would be rearranged. I always drew everything myself, however. The results looked more original that way. All that practice made my letter-drawing skills better.”
The requirements for Videtur were very specific. In order to meet the medium’s needs, Axel Bertram initiated a broad series of experiments with the 625-line television screen’s display conditions. He summarizes his findings into three points:
1. Serif letterforms are easier to recognize than those in monolinear sans serif typefaces.
2. Compact serifs stabilize letterforms and improve the reading movement along a line of text.
3.An alternating stroke contrast leads to easier differentiation between letters.
During Videtur’s design phase, all three findings were kept in mind and refined with the most advanced technology available at the time. After the typeface had been precisely drawn in four different sizes, it was photographed with an electronic camera and projected onto the screen.
“The letters’ height was adapted to the number of lines on the television screen and were justified pixel by pixel with the Chyron font generator. The point size was practically determined by the number of lines available. I experimented with the serif-forms a lot; the result was something that I named the ‘balled knot’ at the time.”
Aside from electronic display technology, text for television graphics in the 1980s was often set with rub-down letters. In East Germany, these sheets were produced a by company named Typofix. Both of these typesetting methods (electronic on-screen typesetting and rub-down letters) were technologies that – at least in his GDR days – Axel Bertram only had access to during his work on the Videtur project.
Oldstyle-inspired letterforms, short ascenders and descenders, low stroke contrast and the “balled knots” form the basis of this extraordinary typeface’s design. In order to transfer these characteristics into the new millennium in a contemporary way, it was necessary for Axel Bertram to find a competent helping hand; someone with a particular attention to detail. He found the man he was looking for in Andreas Frohloff, a former student and now Head of the Type Department at FontFont. Or rather, Frohloff found him. Frohloff proved to be the impetus for redesigning Videtur in the first place, as Bertram had long considered a Videtur-revival to be out of the question. Frohloff managed to change Bertram’s mind through something of a “pirate” method:
“I told him that I’d really like to have an image of the old Videtur typeface. After he found one for me, I scanned it in and made a pretty raw digital version of my own. I changed the proportions a little bit, too. My results managed to convince him, and our collaboration really took off.”
It was clear to both of them that, in the age of HD-TV and retina displays, Videtur couldn’t be re-digitized as is. Even the old serif-form would appear quaint in a high-resolution environment. The “balled knots” were gently and prudently modeled into a triangular form – more pointy, but still rounded. Adjustments were also made to the vertical proportions; shorter ascenders and descenders were adequate for old television graphics, but needed to be extended a bit for optimal comfort in today’s reading conditions. Of course, the two designers also revised the basic shapes of the letters – when returning to a typeface after such a long time, it is only natural to take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate lessons learned. More subtleties are possible today, as Andreas Frohloff explains with the example of one detail:
“We tempered the rather oblique diagonal stroke on the lowercase ‘e.’ In the original Videtur, the diagonal was so extreme because its angle could minimize flickering on the screens of the time – the so-called ‘St. Elmo’s fire’ on corners and edges appeared less frequently this way. Now the bar appears softer, and it fits into a contemporary text typeface better.”
Although the letters were revised, particular attention was paid to keep the stroke contrast moderate but still noticeable – less than is usual in humanist typefaces – in order to retain the design’s original vigor.
Because of its television screen background, FF Videtur remains a technical typeface, but it does have recognizable humanist features in its blood. This isn’t surprising, as both of the typeface’s creators are calligraphers. Already in the design for an earlier custom typeface for the high-circulation weekly magazine NBI-Wochenzeitschrift (Neue Berliner Illustrierte, 1963), the influence of Eric Gill and Edward Johnston on Axel Bertram is quite recognizable. After so many years, his opinion on the humanist letterform remains unchanged:
“The highest development for typefaces, in terms of legibility, was reached during the Renaissance. It doesn’t get any better than that!”
In comparison with the typefaces from the last decade, FF Videtur stands out. Similarities are more likely to be found in printing types from the 1980s, such as Karl-Heinz Lange’s Minima, or ITC Weidemann, whose similarity stunned Axel Bertram’s former student Andreas Frohloff:
“We were talking about Videtur one day while I was in design school, and I happened to have an issue of Graphics magazine with me. ITC Weidemann was presented in that issue; although at the time, the typeface was still called ‘Biblica.’ I couldn’t believe the resemblance at first, but a closer inspection allowed us to breathe easy again. This was one of those famous coincidences: a similar task – good legibility, little space available – and at that time, one apparently had similar conceptions of design.”
At the same time, Videtur’s humanist approach also managed to help distinguish GDR-TV from competing West German television channels. During the 1980s, on-screen graphics from ‘that other side of the Wall’ were more often set with neoclassical-style typefaces.
Thanks to its 21st century revision, FF Videtur isn’t limited to the television screen or to just four point sizes. Numerous tests prove that it easily fits into any media. Today, FontFont typefaces are used in more environments than ever before – in print, on websites, with mobile devices, etc. – and Axel Bertram is thrilled to see how designers will use his modernized typeface:
“I work with the fonts myself. I love writing with them, and I’ve tried the typeface out in my own correspondence. The design is objective and has an attitude.”
Andreas Frohloff especially appreciates FF Videtur’s warmth: “Its objectivity, combined with its rather warm humanist forms, gives the typeface an impressive range of possibilities. I’m not surprised that it works well on-screen. It has a static quality that combines well with the dynamic of the moving image, even under adverse conditions.”
FF Videtur is already the second collaboration between these two type designers. Rabenau, their neoclassical serif family, also had a long development process before it was finally published by Linotype in 2011. Axel Bertram and Andreas Frohloff each work with precision and share a common attention to detail, as Frohloff emphasizes:
“It’s nice when two designers can work on the same wavelength. I studied under Axel Bertram, but I don’t feel occupied by his opinions. In between our frequent meetings, we often came to similar conclusions in our work. Afterwards, we could constructively continue down the same path.”
With the release of FF Videtur, their cooperation hasn’t reached its end. Each of them has ideas as to how the never-before-designed italic for FF Videtur could look. While Axel Bertram isn’t even sure if an italic is necessary, Andreas Frohloff already has a vague concept for the extension:
“If it comes to that, the italic should have a dynamic form that would combine with the very objective-natured upright members of the family. I think that the contrast between these two styles would be charming.”
We’re sure he’ll find the right way to convince Axel Bertram this time, too!
Authors: Dan Reynolds and Christoph Koeberlin.
A new book typeface by DSType, a deluxe script from Sudtipos, compact forms from Optimo, a modern slab by Rene Bieder, a vintage inspired face by Hold Fast Foundry, a classic sans from Plau, some fine curves from Gestalten, and a friendly serif by Borutta.
A new book typeface, seven weights with italics & small capitals.
Attains the very definition of deluxe by conjoining the classic thin-and-thick script treatment with thin-only counterpart strokes, then it goes the extra mile with a varied complement of overlaid flourishes.
Perfect for dealing with dense graphic environments. The compact forms of this savvy typeface recall simple geometrical shapes and low contrasted strokes from its original design.
A modern, clear and infinitely flexible interpretation of slab serif fonts. Designed to fill the gap between traditional serifs and the lasting trend of using sans serif fonts for contemporary design.
A condensed display typeface inspired by the likes of whiskey bottles and vintage serifs. It likes to take long walks with subtle, distressed textures or a nice, good-ole script.
A classic, timeless look, swinging elegance, and joyful attitude.
The fine curves show a poetic and artful approach whereas the classic proportion of the character is a telltale of constructive thinking.
A serif type family with a friendly feel. The low contrast and high x-height is perfect for longer text and headlines.
An industrial sans by Scribble Tone, a homage to Spanish calligraphy by ReType, an art deco inspired sans by Typetantic, a crisp icon font from Symbolset, a space saving serif by Outras Fontes, a sans inspired by the golden era of surf by Kyle Wayne Benson, a retro-chic display face by Type-Ø-Tones, and a Bauhaus influenced sans by The Northern Block.
This new take on industrial sans serifs embodies the spirit of the solid state electronics revolution. Its energetic, generously wide proportions are balanced by confident, efficient strokes with minimal contrast.
Ramiro Espinoza’s homage to one of the most renowned masters of Spanish calligraphy, Ramón Stirling, who was active in Barcelona during the 19th century.
A geometric sans serif typeface, with caps inspired by Art Deco signage found inside the “Gare Maritime” ocean liner terminals in both Le Havre and Cherbourg, France, in the early 1930s.
Balances professional, technical, and user interface needs with fun icons for food, weather, and coffee among other areas. Its lines begin and end in unexpected, yet well considered ways resulting in a fresh, unique take on the established outline icon style archetype.
A text type family designed to save space with the maximum redability. Because of its general forms and proportions (a little bit condensed, big x-height, low contrast) it can be used in smaller sizes than usual for body text.
Inspired by the hand painted art born during the golden days of surf. Tide’s In!’s fresh, carefree, look makes you almost forget that you are staring at a monitor and not on the beach.
A high contrast display typeface inspired by the pointed pen calligraphy, yet with a retro-chic twist. It combines a sense of script with geometric and slightly condensed structure resulting in idiosyncratic curves softly connecting the vertical elegance of its forms.
A geometric sans serif typeface influenced by Bauhaus and the early modernist era. Precise circles are optically adjusted to create a clear, natural typeface with great legibility.
In 2013 to mark the bicentenary of Bodoni’s death, designers Riccardo Olocco and Jonathan Pierini will publish the Parmigiano Typographic System which has the ambition of being the most extended family of fonts ever to have been inspired by the great punchcutter and printer who spent most of his life in Parma. Compulsive Bodoni is the name of the project designed to communicate the Parmigiano Typographic System. It introduces the font and follows its development with a series of multidisciplinary events.
In the middle of 2010 I started taking macro photographs of original copies of Bodoni’s 1818 Manuale Tipografico. My purpose was to analyse Bodoni’s roman types in order to develop some fonts inspired by his work.
Without any previous experience in ‘modern’ typeface design, shortly before the bicentenary of his death I made the decision to study the work of Giambattista Bodoni (1740–1813).
Bodoni’s roman types adhere to the so-called ‘modern’ trend of his time, initiated in the late 18th century by his main competitors, the Didot family in Paris. Thin, horizontal serifs, vertical axes, high contrast between thick and thin strokes and round terminations on certain lowercase letters are the main features of these faces.
The most prolific punchcutter in history
To my knowledge no one has ever fully investigated the many typefaces contained in Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico. There has been no classification of Bodoni’s roman and italic types, and it seems that nobody has ever catalogued the punches and matrices preserved in the Bodoni Museum in Parma – one of the most important collections of its kind in the world.
The Manuale Tipografico displays 142 sets of romans arranged by type-size, from the smallest to the biggest. Bodoni experimented with colour, proportion and detail. Many of the characters show differences that are almost undetectable to the naked eye, but with macro photography we can identify dozens of different shapes of the main letters a, b, e, g…
The problem in analyzing Bodoni’s faces is that the Manuale never displays the whole set of letters of a typeface, but just some of them. Indeed among the characters with bigger type-sizes only a few letters are shown. For instance the letter g, which carries a lot of information about the morphology of the alphabet, disappears at the 95th roman: the Manuale does not display any g bigger than ‘Parangone’, which is equivalent to about 17 points.
These investigations led me to design three typefaces in the style of Bodoni. I followed a philological approach in two of them (one for continuous text and one for titling) while the third face was a condensed display roman rather than a revival. However, I was not satisfied with the philological approach. Following some trial offset prints I came to the conclusion that the proportions were too far-removed from contemporary tastes. The faces looked weak.
Many of Bodoni’s alphabets have extravagant proportions: some letters are too narrow, others too wide. These do not seem to be the products of contemplated design decisions and it appears that Bodoni was not following any particular scheme. For example: in the ‘Albano’ roman (Sopracanoncino 1, about 28 points, Manuale p. 127) the letter n is considerably narrower than o, while in Tolentino (Canoncino 6, about 26 points, p. 125) n is wider than o. These differences of proportions occur throughout the Manuale. My opinion is that Bodoni was following neither traditional schemes (neoclassical or earlier proportions) nor establishing his own proportions. His experimentation was compulsive. He kept on changing proportions as though he was never satisfied.
The initial idea of designing a vast family of ‘Bodonian’ fonts came from a brief conversation with Albert Pinggera, in march 2012, on the way back from Robothon. We tried to imagine how to adapt Bodoni’s work to our times. How would Bodoni have acted if he were living and working in the early 21st century? What would his approach to type-design have been?
As a Jansenist, Bodoni was convinced of human depravity: a man must spend his life in hard work and obedience to wash away original sin. He was a teetotaller, and he was completely obsessed with his work. Besides being a formidable compositor, printer and publisher (he was the Director of the Royal Printing House of Parma from 1768 until the end of his life), Bodoni was also the most prolific punchcutter in the history of printing. In the 1840 inventory compiled by his widow, his typographic material comprised 25,491 punches and 50,283 matrices. Such a number of steel punches cut by hand represents a truly colossal effort and to say that Bodoni was an obsessive-compulsive punchcutter is no exaggeration.
Parmigiano first steps
Early in 2012 I reworked the Bodonian romans trying to find a way to make a system of serifed families – without the necessity for decades of work. I found a good solution working with four master designs, each with different proportions and details. Mixing the four masters I could produce variations among different styles which were not only optical – such as can be found in many large font families – but morphological too.
Given the variety of typefaces Bodoni cut (142 series of romans in his 1818 Manuale) it is illusory to talk of a single Bodoni roman. The idea most designers have of Bodoni is based on the Bodoni designed by Morris Fuller Benton for ATF (American Type Founders) in 1910 – the first face to take the name of Bodoni and still the most important revival with that name. Benton was inspired by the original types but he also had to meet financial and mechanical limitations Bodoni would never have accepted. The result is a masterful synthesis which is more vigorous, although less modulated and less ‘organic’ than any of Bodoni’s romans.
Reworking the Bodonian romans I eschewed a philological approach and kept a distance from Benton’s and other 20th century designs. My intention was to interpret Bodoni according to contemporary taste. As Bodoni spent most of his life in Parma I called them Parmigiano (i.e. Parmesan or ‘coming from Parma’).
In the Spring of 2012 I talked about the project with Jonathan Pierini, a friend and colleague at the Free University of Bolzano. He seemed very interested: Jonathan had been previously involved in other type design projects following his MA in Type and Media at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK). A skilled and enthusiastic type designer, he seemed to be just the right partner for the crazy project I had in mind. Together we set up a development plan and the Parmigiano Typographic System took on its current configuration.
The Parmigiano Typographic System
Our aim was to produce contemporary designs that aspire to be the ‘irreverent descendants’ of Bodoni’s letterforms. We decided to add other roman styles to the serifed ones. Although we certainly cannot deny the influence of Bodoni’s work in our project, Bodoni never cut sans or slab serifs (these styles came in a few years after his death); neither did he cut stencil or typewriter styles, which were introduced many decades later. Slab serifs were distant from the grace and grandeur that Bodoni strived for. Parmigiano Rough, among the serif styles – with its rather clumsy proportions – belongs to that same period; it is a parody of 19th-century typefaces, a gross and ungraceful workhorse. Bodoni never cut such shapes and we can presume that he would feel offended by our choices.
However, we felt that this was not enough to celebrate the spirit of Giambattista Bodoni at the bicentenary of his death. Bodoni is also famous for his many non-Latin faces which he displayed in the second volume of his 1818 Manuale. Not just Greek and Cyrillic scripts, but also many Hebrews, Arabics, Armenians, an Ethiopian, a Tibetan etc., etc. Bodoni was very proud of this part of his work (quite uncommon at the time), which he called – in a rather ‘eurocentric’ perspective – “exotic alphabets”. So, with due consideration given to the growing request for non-Latin typefaces, and not content with limiting our efforts to various styles of the Latin alphabet, we embarked on non-Latin scripts, involving designers from all over the word. The Parmigiano Typosystem became a group project.
The Compulsive Bodoni Project
In September 2012 the ‘Unibz Design Festival’ took place at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bolzano where Jonathan and I are currently working as lecturers. We were invited to contribute to the Festival by setting up an exhibition and we took the opportunity to launch the Parmigiano Typosystem. Besides that, we started to think about a project which could celebrate Bodoni’s work in an unconventional manner and could accompany the development of the Parmigiano family.
Giambattista Bodoni perfectly is suited this kind of project: he was the friend of kings, ministers and many powerful people an indeed he was dubbed “Re dei tipografi, tipografo dei re” – king of typographers, typographer of kings. His popularity was great and he received an endless list of the highest honors; his utter devotion to his work was unequaled.
The exhibition – a preview of the Parmigiano Typosystem in the shape of a typographic manual, texts, maps and wall hangings – was introduced by a short theatrical piece dedicated to Giambattista Bodoni, written and interpreted by the authors and actors Matteo Carlomagno and Mirco Ciorciari. Compulsive Bodoni was the title of this little play which dramatizes certain aspects of Bodoni’s personality.
Compulsive Bodoni also became the name of the project designed to communicate the Parmigiano Typographic System: in the run-up to the release of Parmigiano, from early 2013, the project introduces the font and follows its development with a series of multi-media events such as short clips, musical compositions and graphic exhibitions.
Thanks to the contribution and the consultancy of many friends and designers it was possible to display a first preview of both the Latin styles and the non-Latin scripts we had in mind.
Most of the scripts were designed by Jonathan Pierini and myself in order to display the potential of the project but these will be subject to reworking in the near future. The Parmigiano family is in progress and other designers are getting on board too. Alessia Castelli, Irina Smirnova and Irene Vlachou have already joined the project.
Author: Riccardo Olocco
Link: Compulsive Bodoni
This Week in Fonts is a new weekly roundup of new font releases, curated by Sean Mitchell.
A family that combines the spontaneity of a script typeface with the versatility of multiple weights and cuts.
The softer sister of the succesful Foro family. Distinct in appearence, whith pleasant haptic, objective, and with graphic appeal.
A freeform linking script that again uses OpenType programming to replace beginning and ending characters with uniquely designed variants.
A distinctive sans-serif with much of its calligraphic structure left intact. Its casual construction and unconventional letterforms create a unicase family that’s relaxed and lively at the same time.
A sans serif type family legible in circumstances of low visibility. Its large character set with multiple weights is defined by optimal size ratio, distinctive letter shapes, wide aperture and balanced counters.
A modern font family, that has a strong verticality intensified with the vertical “y” and a special È. These special letters don’t create any issues with legibilty. The large number of ligatures help to make an original and creative layout.
Captures the moments before we moved into our Brave New World. The letters are subtly retro and just barely distressed, and are evocative of Betty Crocker cookbooks used by women in high heels and crisp aprons, signs painted on old barns along the highway, and slow summer days with Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio (and his number 5 jersey) at bat.
Brightly conceived and designed to look good on small screen devices, but offering also enlightened looks on paper.
Mainly inspired by two things, the sketches of Rudolf Koch for Prisma and the proportions of Avant Garde by Herb Lubalin. Even when the proportions and widths stay the same from ExtraLight to Black, you get the opportunity to change the weight and get a complete new look for that typeface by changing the grayscale or color.
I don’t know what it is about type design recently. I could swear that five years ago there wasn’t even half as much interest as there is today! But somehow, it has become hip and interesting to a lot more people than before. Perhaps this reflects the growing democratization of type design, as newer practitioners are increasingly diverse by almost any measure of that term. When I started in the field, it seemed that it was 95%+ white males from North America and Western Europe. That is so totally not true any more! I think what is happening is that young designers can see diversity in their type design role models, and are appropriately encouraged by the existence and amazing type design skills of people from all over the world, including women and people of color.
The Crafting Type workshops are part of this trend. Traveling the world, they are aimed at people who think fonts are cool, but have little or no previous font-making experience. Previous workshops have been in Edmonton, Canada (my home town!), Kyev and Lviv, Ukraine, and at MIT in Boston. The next couple are in Chicago (March 8–10) and Portland OR (March 15–17), just next month.
Here is typography teacher Andrea Emery talking about what she thought of the Crafting Type workshop she attended:
… and student Meagan Chambers talking about how she hopes to make use of what she learned:
What are the defining features of a Crafting Type workshop?
* concentrated 2-5 day workshops, typically 3 days now
* multiple instructors to give varied perspectives on overlapping topics
* individual attention, aiming for no more than12 students per instructor to help accommodate diverse backgrounds with type and typography
* lectures on theory mixed into plenty of hands-on practical time
* all instructors have considerable relevant experience and training (most have an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading)
* most participants have some graphic design background, and no type design background. However, some lack the former, or have a bit of the latter.
* free, libre, open source type design software and sample fonts keep costs down (participants are welcome to use common proprietary type design software such as FontLab Studio or Glyphs if they prefer)
Something different about the Crafting Type workshops is that they are heavily influenced by libre/open source ideas. Dave Crossland in particular, and other founders of Crafting Type in varying degrees, are involved in the free software movement. Dave helps coordinate the development of FontForge and the library of Google Web Fonts, and encourages participants to use the libre application FontForge and consider the potential of libre, open source fonts.
Now, knowing that, if you also know me or read my bio, you might think there are some very odd bedfellows here. After all, I curate the font library for Extensis WebINK, a commercial competitor to Google Web Fonts. I also am currently consulting for FontLab, the dominant proprietary software company in font editing tools, competing with FontForge.
So you might think that Dave and I ought to be arch-enemies. Yet I am one of the joint instructors for the Portland workshop, and likely more in the future. What the hell am I doing working with these people, and why would they have me involved?
It is not actually all that surprising. We all love type and typography, and we all care about quality and craftsmanship. Professionally, we will all benefit from the success of web fonts in general; a growing market has room for multiple vendors, with a range of quality and price levels (even with “free” as one of those prices).
One of the strengths of Crafting Type is that each instructor brings their own perspectives on the material. For me, I don’t think free software or free fonts are evil or wrong. Mostly I have concerns about how one can make a living at type design without charging for fonts—especially at the time-consuming quality levels I prefer. I was the one who suggested to Dave and the Google folks that they use Kickstarter to help fund their open source font development, something that has helped fund a number of Google Web Fonts. I am all for education, teaching people how much fun type design is, and encouraging quality type design based on an understanding of fundamental principles, whether those fonts are libre or proprietary.
In any case, I love type, and type design in particular. Even for those who don’t pursue it as a career, taking a workshop like this can deepen their appreciation and understanding of type. I want to get more people hooked on type and type design. With Crafting Type, I am hopeful that it might be a gateway course for type and type design addiction. Crafting Type Students often say they wish there were even more more days, so it seems to be working. But we are trying to find the right length to keep the workshop affordable and accessible. Three days seems good, even if five would be better in some respects.
My colleague Eben Sorkin, type designer and veteran of teaching several Crafting Type workshops, says: “People who work as graphic designers, web designers, architects, UX/UI designers, product designers, and people who do branding and identity work have all said the information provided by Crafting Type was something they could apply to their work. Even teachers who already teach typography find it deepens their understanding, and gives them an additional angle to bring to their own pedagogy.”
* Students considering work in any of the above fields can benefit from learning the basics of type design.
* You don’t need to want to be a type designer to find the course useful. But we can give you a good start if you do want that.
I won’t be surprised if more workshops and courses in type design continue to spring up, in response to demand. I remember it wasn’t that long ago that Veronika Burian did a type design workshop here in Portland. But I think the idea of an ongoing, traveling workshop series is a great one. Crafting Type can go to places where there is nobody local doing both type design and teaching, and can bring a whole group of instructors with diverse backgrounds, so students get more than one view of things rather than being indoctrinated with One True Way.
For those who get seriously hooked on type design, you can practicing on your own, hang out in online communities like Typophile and Typedrawers, and attend conferences such as TypeCon and ATypI. But there are also a growing number of longer, hardcore type design educational programs one can consider. Here are the main English-language academic programs in type design:
* MA Typeface Design (one year), University of Reading, UK
* Type & Media Master’s program (one year), KABK (Royal Academy of Art), the Netherlands
* Extended (one year, evenings/weekends) and Condensed (5 weeks) certificate programs, Cooper Union, New York City
Still, if you are type-design-curious, trying a 3-day workshop might seem to be a good idea before committing to something so lengthy!
Header image: Dave Crossland teaching.
Author: Thomas Phinney
Despite the frequently ill-defined line between Lettering and Calligraphy, they have always been separate disciplines. Lettering vs Calligraphy, a new project from Berliners Martina Flor and Giuseppe Salerno, seeks to bring together both the craft of drawing letters and the art of writing, but at the same time emphasize and celebrate their differences.
Their initiative is an online visual dialogue between a letterer (Flor) and a calligrapher (Salerno). They simultaneously draw/write a letter daily in response to a keyword supplied by a moderator. Visitor to the site are invited to vote for their favorites, and guest specialists (moderators) are invited to select the letter that, in their opinion, is the best.
Many of the moderators, who referee these competitions, are type-related professionals or calligraphy artists from all over the world. Some are writers and bloggers like Jan Middendorp, Nina Stössinger, or Stephen Coles; others are calligraphers or letterers like Paco Calles, Nate Williams, and Thiago Reginato, to name just a few.
Flor & Salerno — Letterer & Calligrapher
Though now based in Berlin, Martina Flor grew up in Buenos Aires and graduated from the Type & Media Masters program in the Netherlands. Her specialization in type design and lettering is the combination of her talents as both a designer and illustrator. Martina draws letters by hand or digitally, and then works at improving them through various refinements and variations.
Unlike Martina’s process, Giuseppe Salerno’s technique requires writing a letter or a word repeatedly until finding just the right composition. Being a self-taught calligrapher from the age of 15, Salerno grew up in the Italian city of Torino where he also studied Graphic Design. After moving to Valencia he founded the design studio Resistenza together with Paco Gonzalez, also a close collaborator on the LVSC project.
The battle that Flor and Salerno pull together online owes a great deal to Typostammtisch, the periodical Type-themed meetings organized by Ivo Gabrowitsch at Max und Moritz in Kreuzberg, Berlin. It’s where they first met. During these early encounters, they developed an interest for one another”s work, followed by an exchange of knowledge and critiques that were mutually beneficial.
Since then, Martina and Giuseppe have been collaborating and, though they are opponents in the virtual world, they are ‘co-workers’, colleagues, and friends. Via the Lettering vs Calligraphy ‘battleground’ they push and inspire each other to do better — and the results are there for all to see.
Lettering & Calligraphy — Drawing & Writing
LVSC is not only an online recreational project but also a tool to understanding how each performs, and highlights the differences of both techniques. While there are several blogs deal specifically with lettering or calligraphy, letteringvscalligraphy.com marries both disciplines in a rather visual way. The site permits side by side comparisons of both technical approaches within a single image, and is both educational and fun.
Whereas lettering is based on draftsmanship, the art of drawing letters in creating a unique customised typographic image, calligraphy achieves the same through penmanship or writing, using unique strokes that cannot be reproduced without suffering variations. The rhythm achieved by the speed of the tool in calligraphy is emulated by the tension of extreme points when drawing a letter.
Despite the different nature of both techniques they can also perform similarly and we have see them come together many times through history as part of the same design process: in Roman inscriptions, handwritten letters with a brush directly on the stone that would be later carved, or in the medieval illuminated manuscripts where calligraphic text and capitals are complemented with illustrative decorations.
The first phase of the project will be concluded with a complete latin alphabet (uppercase, lowercase, and numerals), including a set of characters from other scripts such as Cyrillic and Arabic. In March 2013, Mota Italic, a Berlin gallery that showcases type, letters, and typography in art and design will host the first Lettering vs Calligraphy exhibition. The novel concept will take the form of a workshop in February at the traditional Berliner workspace Betahaus, where the participants will explore the two technical approaches as combinatory tools within the same design process.
In the future, rival guests will be invited to participate and prove their skills via the online battleground. As a result, letteringvscalligraphy.com will amass a large library of letter forms, while at the same time showcasing the work of artists from across the globe — hopefully developing it into a place not only to share knowledge but also as an inspirational source and playground for designers, letterers, and calligraphers.
In February of 1989, I had the pleasure of meeting Josef Müller-Brockmann. I was a young, wide-eyed student of 21 years studying at Arizona State University. With great fortune, a professor of mine had heard that Müller-Brockmann was going to be in the country and asked him to add a stop in Tempe, Arizona. The program director for the design department at ASU at the time was the famous Rob Roy Kelly, known for putting together successful design programs, many of which became blueprints for other design schools. Because of Müller-Brockmann’s interest in design education, he accepted the invitation.
Prior to JMB’s arrival, I was naive about the significance of his visit. Up to that point, my focus in studying the history of design was restricted to the past generation of typographers and designers. I was foolishly unaware of the relevant living ones. Despite that, once I was in his calm, yet playful, presence, the impact of his stopover became clearly apparent. My class happened to be working on grid systems at the time. As he came around to my desk to view the layout I was working on, his soft-natured brief critique was all I needed to remind me to be persistent in the refinement process. Reduction of content can make all the difference in the outcome of a design.
A student from the back of the room shouted out a wish to see JMB’s business card. As JMB casually pulled the business card out of his coat pocket, there was a frenzy like fish at a pond when the morsels are tossed in. He was taken aback as we scurried around to take a peak at the card revealed; novice typographers eager to see his miniature piece of art. I still remember the card clearly. It was on light gray paper stock printed with a solitary color of cool gray ink. All content was in a singular sans serif face, all lowercase, and no punctuation to speak of other than the umlaut and hyphen in his distinguished name. No commas, no periods, no colons. All the elements on the card were restricted to the purest of necessary elements. In that small space he proved the mastery of minimalism; communication clearly achieved without the use of a period or a comma. The execution of an all lowercase solution, which has influenced my own design solutions to this day, and a restrained use of typographic elements was an awe-inspiring lesson, visually delivered. He didn’t need to speak a word.
I was one of many students that he encountered on his visit that week. For me, the chance that he crossed my path as a young designer was most fortuitous. It wasn’t necessarily the specific meeting that was so influential, but it called attention to the path of design integrity that he sent me on.
There is a petite design book on my shelf. So small, that it often hides among the over-sized art books in my collection. It is a perfect square, 21 cm x 21 cm in size, and only a few millimeters thick. But visually, it carries a big punch. It is a catalog of selected posters by Josef Müller-Brockmann from 1948 to 1981.
When we study the work of a master of any art, we tend to only have access to the finished product. What makes this catalog of Müller-Brockmann’s posters such a gem are the production drawings that accompany each poster. These drawings allow us a view into the constructivist reasoning at work.
The late 1940s was when JMB turned toward the constructivist design aesthetic and away from his illustrative and subjective period. Reaching this constructive approach was a gradual process over many years; an examination influenced by teachers, peers, and social surroundings. Through the rejection of the illustrative method “he acquired freedom for the more highly charged organizational forms that were appropriate to the subject.” 
Arrangement Leads to Harmony
This movement of constructive design embraced a defined arrangement of the pictorial and typographic elements. Using the grid as an organizational tool, harmony between image and type was achieved, resulting in a unified composition. In History of the Poster, Müller-Brockmann describes the Constructive Poster being composed of, “…linear and proportional correlations between all parts, each is integrated in the whole, and the result is the optimum arrangement for the task.” 
Figure 1. Zürich Tonhalle Musica Viva Concert Poster, 1958. Linocut + letterpress. 90.5 cm x 128 cm + composition grid
Anonymity Begets Neutrality
Many of Müller-Brockmann’s posters in the ’40s and early ’50s are linocuts, a combination of linocut and letterpress, or the occasional silkscreen. The linocut was an ideal choice to accentuate the constructive form. Not only did linoleum prints enable high contrasts and bold, vivid colors, but it was a fitting choice to allow Müller-Brockmann to “remove the personality of the designer”  and focus on the objective quality of design. The idea of a more anonymous author enabled more effective communication, assigning the subject with its “own set of values and characteristics.” 
A Universal Language
“The belief that graphic design — if it was to inform and enlighten without being manipulative— had to be based on objective criteria,” is what led JMB to his turning point.  With the desire for an objective language, JMB focused his attention on functional typography, geometric motifs, and photography. Using this universal vocabulary allowed for a solution liberated from representing a specific point in time, avoiding what he saw as the downfall in the illustrative method.
The solution was achieved through the use of symbolic language. The handling of the elements involved: type, shape, spatial relations, rhythmic proportions, and color functioned through a systematic employment of the grid. The strict but exemplary employment of elements can be seen in the concert poster for the Tonhalle Gesellschaft Zurich of 1955. (Figure 2)
Figure 2. Zürich Tonhalle Concert Poster, 1955. Lithography. 90.5 cm x 128 cm + composition grid
If we go beyond the finished ink of the poster and look at the compositional drawing, the structural information begins to emerge. The poster is comprised of horizontal and vertical lines set at a 30 degree angle. The carefully chosen angle of the grid, and the position of the elements within the grid create a sense of moving exhalation, all working in conjunction to convey a sense of musical breath. This execution can been seen on many levels: the rhythmic formation of the vertical and horizontal lines against the 30 degree axis, the inward unification of elements through the use of this central axis, the figure-ground relationship of the elements, the use of contrast through varying elements, and the typographical composition to solicit the movement of the reader’s eye.
Beyond the feeling of musical resonance, Müller-Brockmann unifies the text and form explicitly to capture the essence of each composer. “…[E]ach name was allocated a place in the grid of lines that distinguished the expressive nature of the composer’s music: Berg, restrained; Stravinsky, astride modern and classic forms; and Fortner, unbound by formal constraints.” 
An important component of the objective philosophy was functional typographic solutions. Beyond the quest for legibility, JMB believed that type is “employed so that there is a link (between image and text) that compels attention.”  In his opinion, the less elaborate the letterform, the more capacity for function; and that the new typography should be represented with a sans serif typeface. His personal favorite was Berthold’s Akzidenz Grotesk. Even with the newly emergent sans serif faces Univers and Helvetica in the late 1950s (inspired by Akzidenz Grotesk), JMB still preferred Berthold’s design of 1898. “It is more expressive and its formal foundations are more universal. The end of the “e”, for instance is a diagonal which produces right angles. In the case of Helvetica and Univers the endings are straight, producing acute or obtuse angles, subjective angles.” 
JMB’s purely typographic poster solutions can be seen developing in the 1960s. Objectivity had moved one more notch toward pellucid form. At first, these designs were completely unadulterated and this purity was not necessarily well-received by the public. Like all of his work, the posters evolved, and in the late ’60s and early ’70s his wholly typographic poster solutions seemed to be singing to themselves. In his 1994 book Mein Leben: Spielerischer Ernst und ernsthaftes Spiel, JMB reflected, “In purely typographic designs I tried to put the areas into a contrasting tension with areas remaining empty. In its execution I did not rely on my feeling but on measurable proportions. The understanding for typographic values gained from various sources. I was essentially influenced by the typography put in practice at the Bauhaus and by Tschichold.” 
Beyond educating himself on the rules of typography, JMB focused on photography as his pictorial medium, the ultimate choice for objective imagery. With no “Photoshop” enhancement in that era, photography still had the power to bring a sense of clarity and honesty to the message, holding true to the objective intent of purity of information.
In 1953, JMB began sharing a studio with photographer Ernest A. Heiniger and began employing fellow photographer Serge Libiszewski as a design resource.  Libiszewski was part of this new discipline in Germany known as “subjektive fotografie”. Also influenced by the “die neue typographie” philosophy of Jan Tschichold, Müller-Brockmann embraced the use of experimental photography of montage and photograms.  (Figure 3)
Figure 3. Public awareness poster “Protect the child.”, 1953. Offset. 128 x 90.5 cm. + composition grid
Eventually, JMB’s subjective expressive approach to photography changed toward the pragmatic objective. Still holding true to Tschichold’s philosophy of an “emphasis upon the clear and incorruptible characteristic of photography” , but now evolving toward a harmony and balance within the structural compositions. Integration of type, image, and form brought credibility to the image as a whole. (Figure 4)
Figure 4. Public awareness poster “less noise.”, 1960. Offset. 128 x 90.5 cm. + composition grid
One of the most admired of JMB’s posters is the 1960 poster der Film. (Figure 3) Phillip Meggs speaks of it as one of Müller-Brockmann’s “masterpieces.”
“It demonstrates the universal design harmony achieved by mathematical spatial division. The poster is in the three-to-five ratio of the golden mean, considered the most beautifully proportioned rectangle since Greek times. This rectangle is divided into fifteen squares or modules (three across the horizontal dimension and five down the vertical dimension), The top nine modules form a square, the title fills three units, and three are below the title. Film occupies two units, and the secondary typographic information aligns with the front edge of the F in Film. This design organization grew out of functional communication needs. The title projects clearly at great distances against the field of black. The overlapping of Film in front of der is a typographic equivalent to the cinematic techniques of overlapping images and dissolving from one image to another. For all its elemental simplicity, this poster successfully combines effective communication, expression of content, and visual harmony.” 
The der Film poster expresses the fundamentals of constructive design at its best; use of the golden mean, symbolic motifs within a typographic solution, and minimal, strategic use of color. (Figure 5)
Figure 5. Zürich Museum of Arts and Crafts Exhibition Poster, 1960. Offset. 90.5 cm x 128 cm + composition grid
Color, an Understated Role
Color is a key player in elemental hierarchy. In his posters of the early 1960s, JMB pursued purely typographic solutions using color as a vehicle to represent key information to the viewer. The delineation of content was divided by the use of color. This division of content was brilliantly employed in his more structurally complex typographic posters of 1969 and 1970, where color played a staccato effect to punctuate text among the singing display of information.
In The Graphic Artist and his Problems, Müller-Brockmann writes, “The sparing, but methodical and logical use of color has a more telling effect than a combination of many different colors.”  Therefore, not only does color play an organizational role, allowing for the unification of elements, but it can serve a symbolic function. As in the music posters, color is represented, as Müller-Brockmann put it, as “color sound” where it assists in creating a particular atmosphere. Like all the vocabulary used in objective design, color must have an evident intention if it is to fulfill its duty or service.
Müller-Brockmann’s aspiration for pure objective solutions never stood idle; a continuous analysis and refinement in his work is apparent. His ability for detached self-evaluation allowed him to arrive and make new leaps forward with his newly found vocabulary. I am not sure what is more impressive, Josef Müller-Brockmann’s splendid achievements, or his awe-inspiring ability to humbly leave his ego behind on his life-long venture for communication purity.
1. Josef Müller-Brockmann. The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems. Trans. D.Q. Stephensen and Charles Whitehouse. (Sulgen and Zurich: Verlag Arthur Niggli, 2003; first edition 1961), p. 9.
3. Josef Müller-Brockmann. The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems. Trans. D.Q. Stephensen and Charles Whitehouse. (Sulgen and Zurich: Verlag Arthur Niggli, 2003; first edition 1961), p. 9.
5. Josef Müller-Brockmann and Paul Rand. Josef Muller-Brockmann: Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design. (Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 2001), p. 17.
6. Kerry William Purcell. Josef Müller-Brockmann. (London: Phaidon Press, 2006), p. 169.
7. Josef Müller-Brockmann. The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems. Trans. D.Q. Stephensen and Charles Whitehouse. (Sulgen and Zurich: Verlag Arthur Niggli, 2003; first edition 1961), p. 7.
8. Yvonne Schwemer-Scheddin. “Josef Müller-Brockmann” in Eye, vol. 5, no. 19 (1995), p. 15.
9. Josef Müller-Brockmann. Mein Leben: Spielerischer Ernst und ernsthaftes Spiel (Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 1994), p. 36.
10. Josef Müller-Brockmann and Paul Rand. Josef Muller-Brockmann: Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design. (Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 2001), p. 31.
11. Kerry William Purcell. Josef Müller-Brockmann. (London: Phaidon Press, 2006), p. 121.
12. Kerry William Purcell. Josef Müller-Brockmann. (London: Phaidon Press, 2006), p. 115.
14. Josef Müller-Brockmann. The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems. Trans. D.Q. Stephensen and Charles Whitehouse. (Sulgen and Zurich: Verlag Arthur Niggli, 2003; first edition 1961), p. 44.
Meggs, Philip. A History of Graphic Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983.
Müller-Brockmann, Josef. Mein Leben: Spielerischer Ernst und ernsthaftes Spiel. Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 1994.
Müller-Brockmann, Josef. The Graphic Artist and his Design Problems. Trans. D.Q. Stephensen and Charles Whitehouse. 3rd ed. Sulgen and Zurich: Verlag Arthur Niggli, 2003.
Müller-Brockmann, Josef and Shizuko Müller-Yoshikawa. History of the Poster. Trans. M.J. Schärer-Wynne. 2nd ed, London: Phaidon Press, 2004.
Purcell, Kerry. Josef Müller-Brockmann. London: Phaidon Press, 2006.
Rand, Paul and Lars Müller. Josef Muller-Brockmann: Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design. Baden: Lars Müller Publishers, 2001.
Schwemer-Scheddin, Yvonne. “Josef Müller-Brockmann” in Eye, vol. 5, no. 19 (1995), pp. 10–16.
About the author
Joanne Meister is owner and creative director of designmeister, in Oregon. Her focus is on corporate identity and integrated branding for small business, as well as Fortune 500 and international companies. Influenced by her formal design education from Arizona State University, and studies at Rhode Island School of Design, Joanne has a special passion for both quantitative information design and typography.
Beginning with Codex 3, we are pleased to announce that the journal will have an editorial board comprised of eminent figures in the fields of graphic design and typography, type design, type and printing history, and typographic education. The members, whose biographies are listed below, represent a cross-section of the letterphile world. They are a diverse lot, in terms of age, gender and geography, but also in their aesthetic stances. We expect their advice and involvement with Codex will make for a richer publication in the future.
John Boardley, publisher
Paul Shaw, editor
Patricia Belen, a New York native, is a designer and partner at Kind Company, an independent design office in New York City since 2004. Since 2009, she has been documenting historically significant work and archives, with an emphasis on mid-century design, for Display, the initiative she established with Greg D’Onofrio. She has taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology and guest lectured at Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts MFA in Design Criticism program. Patricia has a B.A. in architecture from Barnard College, Columbia University.
Peter Bilak was born in Czechoslovakia and lives in the Netherlands. He works in the fields of editorial, graphic, and type design; and teaches in the Type & Media postgraduate course at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. He started Typotheque in 1999, Dot Dot Dot magazine in 2000, Indian Type Foundry in 2009, and Works That Work magazine in 2012. His typefaces include Fedra and Greta. He is a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale).
James Clough studied typography at the London College of Printing. In 1971, after a spell as a designer in London, he moved to Milan where he set up as a freelance designer, specializing in lettering and calligraphy. He writes for Italian and international publications on themes concerning the history of type and the graphic arts. He teaches typography and the history of letterforms (epigraphy, calligraphy and type) in the Milan Politecnico University and other Italian institutions and has also lectured in Britain, Switzerland, the USA and Turkey. His research into the history of Italian wood type will be published by the Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione.
Catherine Dixon is a designer, writer and teacher based in London. As a designer she works mostly with text-based projects, including covers for the award-winning Great Ideas series for Penguin Books. As a writer she has a particular interest in type design and the forms of letters more generally. She was the researcher on A Survey of Letterforms, the Central Lettering Record prototype CD-ROM that broke new ground in the classification of typefaces. With Phil Baines she co-authored Signs: Lettering in the Environment and works on the website publiclettering.org.uk and curates The Central Lettering Record. She is a Senior Lecturer in Typography at Central Saint Martins where she herself graduated in 1992. In 2011 was a Visiting Professor at the University of São Paulo in Brazil.
Greg D’Onofrio is a designer, writer and partner at Kind Company. He initiated the website Alvin Lustig, Modern Design Pioneer (alvinlustig.com/) and, with his partner Patricia Belen, co-founded Display, a platform for research in graphic design history. Greg has co-authored essays on Pirelli, Elaine Lustig Cohen, Yves Zimmermann and Bob Noorda. He is currently working on organizing and designing a catalogue for the design archives of Philip Grushkin, an American designer noted for his bookjackets and, later, his design of art history books.
Jost Hochuli was born in 1933 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He studied with Walter Kaech in Zurich and, briefly, with Adrian Frutiger in Paris. Since 1959 he has run his own commercial graphics and book design firm in St.Gallen. In 1979 he co-founded the cooperative publishing firm VGS and for twenty-five years he served as its president and designer. He has taught lettering, writing and typography at design schools in Zurich and St. Gallen. He designed and published the annual Typotron booklet series from 1983 until 1998; and, since 2000, the Edition Ostschweiz series. Jost is the author of Detail in Typography and Designing Books: Practice and Theory.
Johnston, born in Glasgow, Scotland, combines his love of language and letterforms in the study of typography. He became a letterpress printer in 1970 and established the Poltroon Press in 1975 with the artist Frances Butler. He has published bibliographies of three San Francisco Bay Area literary small presses, translated and published Hendrik Vervliet’s monograph on Granjon: Cyrillic & Oriental typography in Rome, and Jan Tschichold’s essay on Jacob Sabon. His other books include Alphabets to Order, a study of typefounders’ specimens considered as literature, Nineteenth-century American designers and engravers of type (co-edited with Stephen O. Saxe, 2009), and Rambling in the Vernacular, a study of folk letterforms. He has just completed Transitional Faces: The Lives and Work of Richard Austin, type-cutter, & Richard Turner Austin, wood-engraver. He edited The Ampersand, a book arts journal, for fifteen years and contributed to Fine Print and Bookways. He writes a weekly column for booktryst, an online blog.
Scott-Martin Kosofsky, from Massachusetts, a partner in The Philidor Company, designs, produces, edits, composes, writes, and makes types for books. His specialties are complex typographic books, advanced typography for liturgical and biblical Hebrew, and interesting image-based books, with occasional forays into music, art, and graphic design. He specializes in books on Jewish subjects, most notably Printing the Talmud, The Jews of Boston (2005), Mahzor Lev Shalem (2010), the new High Holidays prayerbook for the Rabbinical Assembly, and The Book of Customs: A Complete Handbook for the Jewish Year (2004), his first book as sole author. His Hebrew type, “Milon,” made for Mahzor Lev Shalem, marked a technological breakthrough as well as an æsthetic one and led to a consultancy with Adobe. Recently, Scott completed work on a set of fonts begun by Matthew Carter, based on Guillaume Le Bé’s Hebrews. They will appear in 2014 in the first volume of The Oxford Hebrew Bible.
Indra Kupferschmid is a German typographer and teacher at HBKsaar, Academy of Fine Arts Saarbrücken, where she holds a professorship in typography. Alongside this she is occupied with book design, bitmap fonts and other type related projects, DIN committees on legibility and type classification, terminology, the history of Grotesks and how this is all intertwined. She is the co-author of Helvetica Forever (2007) and author of Buchstaben kommen selten allein, a typographic reference book. She contributes to fontsinuse, typedia and typographica among other publications and websites.
Mathieu Lommen is a curator of graphic design and typography at the Bijzondere Collecties (Special Collections) of the University of Amsterdam and teaches graphic design history at the UvA. He has published multiple works on the history of book and type design from the nineteenth century onwards. Among his books are Dutch typefounders’ specimens from the Library of the KVB (together with John A. Lane, 1998) and The book of books: 500 years of graphic innovation (2012). He has contributed articles to several journals and was formerly an editor of Quaerendo, a Dutch journal on the history of European books and manuscripts.
Sébastien Morlighem studied at the École Supérieure Estienne (Paris, France), where he learned type design. He has worked since 1995 as a graphic designer for books and records. He teaches the history of graphic design and typography and is coordinator of the post-graduate program ‘Typography and Language’ at the École supérieure d’art et de design in Amiens. He created the Bibliothèque typographique collection for Ypsilon Éditeur and has co-authored books about French type designers José Mendoza y Almeida and Roger Excoffon. He collaborates frequently with Eye and Étapes magazines and lectures in many countries. He is currently completing a PhD research project for the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading (United Kingdom).
James Mosley, the former librarian of the St. Bride Printing Library and the founding editor of the Journal of the Printing Historical Society, is a printing historian. He teaches in the Department of Typography and Graphic Communications at the University of Reading and at the Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia. James lectures at conferences in England, France, Germany, Italy and the United States. He is the author of numerous essays on printing and type, including “Trajan Revived” (1964) and the seminal “The Nymph and the Grot” (1965 and updated as a book in 1999). He has contributed to books on Pierre Simon Fournier le jeune, the Romain du Roi, the Imprimerie Nationale, Louis Pouchée and more. His blog Typefoundry is one of the most respected on the subject of type and typography on the Internet.
Helmut Schmid, born 1942 in Ferlach, Austria, served an apprenticeship as a compositor in Weil am Rhein, Germany. He studied typography under Emil Ruder and graphic form under Kurt Hauert at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland. He has written articles for Grafisk Revy, TM, Idea, and Baseline. Since 1981 he has lived in Osaka, Japan where he works as a freelance designer. He has taught typography workshops in Japan, India, Korea and Singapore. Helmut is the editor and designer of typography today (1980/2003), the road to basel (1997), ruder typography ruder philosophy (idea 333, 2009), and japan japanese (robundo, 2012).
The Type Directors Club in New York City has been holding an annual competition for the best in typography (that is, the use of type in graphic design) since the 1950s. In 1997, James Montalbano and Paul Shaw founded TDC2, a second competition that dealt specifically with the design of typefaces. Together, they chaired the first two TDC2 competitions, and they have remained closely involved with it ever since.
As Paul wrote in his chairman’s statement for that first competition, “The genesis for the Type Directors Club Type Design Competition (TDC2) came about from my frustration, shared by the other type designers on the Board of Directors of the TDC, over the number and quality of type designs chosen in the annual competition.” Until then, type designs had been judged alongside books, brochures, annual reports, and packaging. Now they would be judged on their own merits, by judges who understood the design of type.
One of the crucial factors in judging the design of a typeface is seeing it in use. For the first TDC type competition, Montalbano and Shaw devised a template that they hoped would show all of the typefaces in comparable situations, at a variety of sizes. As James said in his chairman’s statement, although they had “created a poster that most people liked,” they had also “created submission templates that most people hated.” In later years, designers were free to send in their typeface samples in any form they liked, though the organizers encouraged them to include a complete character set and to show off their work at its best. (When I chaired the type-design competition in 2001, we asked for 11″×17″ or A3 proof sheets, one typeface per sheet, and explained: “Each proof should show the typeface in whatever way seems appropriate for that face; proofs may include, but are not limited to, headlines, short or long passages of text, sample pages/double-page spreads of book or magazine make-up, or multiple-column text.”) But not all type designers, even the best ones, are very good graphic designers; this problem of displaying the typeface at its best for the judging has bedeviled the competition from the beginning.
This year’s competition—the fifteenth, if I’m counting right—was chaired by Maxim Zhukov, who chose an all-star jury of well-known names: Matthew Carter, Roger Black, Erik Spiekermann, and Paul Shaw. The number of submissions was slightly down from the year before (173 entries from 27 countries); submissions from outside the United States outnumbered the US entries, but not by as much as they had the year before. (In 1997, that first competition had twice as many submissions – but then, it was the first, and its scope was larger, as it covered the entire decade up to then. Subsequent competitions have covered only single years.)
From the outset, the TDC type design competition has encouraged submissions of non-Latin type designs, although it is sometimes a problem making sure that there are judges who are familiar with each script. Many type designers can judge the soundness of character designs in a script that they can’t read, but to evaluate how a text typeface works in practice requires familiarity with the language it’s used for. Even when he wasn’t chairing the competition, Maxim has made heroic efforts over the years to back up the juries with expert advice on unfamiliar writing systems.
The judging takes place in New York over a weekend in January. The essentials of a type-design judging are always the same: the judges walk along a series of long tables where the type specimens are laid out side by side, peering down at the designs, sometimes bending close to examine details, other times clustering together to discuss a particular question. The first cut is where the unsuccessful designs get weeded out. In some competitions, the judges choose which ones to eliminate; in others, they indicate which ones they think should stay in for the next round, and the rest are eliminated. TDC2 uses the latter method. Either way, the second round is where it gets interesting: narrowing it down to the truly best designs. This is where the judges start arguing, or at least discussing the merits of particular typefaces and what works and doesn’t work about them. As I recall from the year I chaired the competition, these discussion were the most fascinating; they really brought out the judges’ individual experiences and knowledge, as each wrestled with fundamental questions of how to evaluate quality.
This year, the TDC2 jury chose only thirteen typefaces as winners – an unusually low percentage of those that were entered. The general feeling among the judges seemed to be that while there were plenty of good type designs submitted, there weren’t very many that stood out for their excellence. As Paul Shaw said afterward, “During the judging we all agreed that the level of type design has risen so much in recent years that we found ourselves looking for typefaces that had something extra. Just being a very good, very usable typeface was no longer enough to be chosen.” Many of the entries seemed to be good but not great: “We had a difficult time finding typefaces that seemed fresh and exciting.” Or, as Roger Black put it, “As we’ve seen in magazine and web site design, if the bottom is to be raised, the best design has to be more than accurate, clean and professional. It has to hit it out of the park.”
This is a constant debate in design competitions: should the winners be limited to those that are spectacular and original, or should they include those that are steady and craftsmanlike but not outstanding? It’s far from obvious which answer is preferable. In every aspect of graphic design, including the design of type, there is work that’s pyrotechnic and in your face, but that lacks real craft in how it’s put together. Then there is work that is solid and reliable, that rises to the best standards of competence, but that doesn’t break out of the box in any way.
As Roger Black pointed out, “The problem here is exactly what the AIGA was trying to address [in a recent debate about its own design competitions]: how do you judge design, when all the qualities may not be on the surface? A print advertising competition, a book cover competition, or even a book design competition are easier to judge than, say, a web site, where how it works is as important a part of the design as how it looks. With typefaces, the TDC is relying on the experience of judges to assess these issues. A stylish new stencil font (which was a winner this year), is easier to vote for than a new agate font, which really must be seen in use… And as for web fonts, God spare the judges.”
It’s easy to forget that during the judging process, the jury is seeing a whole host of entries all at once, which have to be judged quickly, intuitively, without any time to put them through their paces and see how they work in the real world. (The equivalent in book-design competitions is that the judges don’t have time to sit down and try to read any of the books, which is the ultimate test. It’s always easier, and tempting, to judge by the display typography or the images or the title page.)
A counter to this, for the individual submitters, is to produce a specimen showing off their typefaces the way they would most like to see them used. But too many of them don’t do this very well. “Some perfectly good typefaces were probably unfairly rejected,” according to Paul Shaw, “but the fault lay with the submitters more than with the jury. Many submitters do not showcase their typefaces properly.” The designs of the typeface showings need to be “both compelling and appropriate.” Paul said that he had voted for some typefaces that he was already familiar with and thought were excellent, but that the other judges didn’t agree. “Upon reflection, I realized that the showings were a let down. I was able to see beyond that because I had previously seen what the fonts were capable of. This may seem unfair, but it is the same way that fonts are often judged in the marketplace. It is not enough to be a good typeface. It is essential that a typeface show why it is good and what it is good for.”
There is another factor, which complicates the matter of showing all the aspects of a digital font: the increasing popularity of advanced OpenType layout features, whether they be something subtle like small caps and alternate styles of numerals or something exuberant like an explosion of ligatures and alternate letter forms. Complex scripts like Arabic or Devanagari complicate the problem because there’s so much to show; similarly, Chinese and Japanese fonts contain so many characters that it would be almost impossible to showcase them all in any meaningful way. As Maxim, this year’s chairman, put it, “Evaluating and judging OpenType entries to design competitions has become more challenging for the jurors than TrueType or Type 1 fonts, partly for the same reason: their glyph sets often transcend the traditional boundaries of text, display, pi, Latin, and other design and script categories used for the submission of entries.” Not only might a single OpenType font include a plethora of alternates and special features, it might also contain what is essentially more than one typeface. Many current type releases, for instance, include Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic versions in one font. (This is what Adobe means when it calls a font “Pro,” although most of us tend to think of this as indicating the presence of small caps, old-style figures, and related typographic niceties of the Latin alphabet.) All of this needs to be displayed gracefully and compellingly in the type specimen, if the designer hopes to have the jury adequately judge his or her work.
It’s also possible, as Maxim points out in his chairman’s statement, for one part of a large OpenType font to work better than another. Does the display version work as well as the text? Does the Greek match the quality of the Cyrillic? In past TDC competitions, sometimes the judges have decided to give an award to just one part of a type family, even though the whole family was submitted as one entry.
Paul Shaw sums up the perennial problem of judging a design competition: “I am looking for excellence more than innovation, but innovation always gets one’s attention.” But let’s give Roger Black the last word:
“When the TDC judges went over to a Pratt Institute building that weekend to look at the type design submissions, we saw a variety of designs, representing a wide range of styles from informal cursives to fresh takes on classic Romans. Nothing knocked us dead. But there were no howlers, either. We agreed that the bottom has been raised a great deal. There is better type design education (at Reading, RISD, and now Cooper), and better training of junior designers at dozens of foundries (following the example of David Berlow and the Font Bureau). This is encouraging, but we were left wistful and unsatisfied.”
Video of TDC Salon: The Judges Night 2012. A panel discussion with Roger Black, Matthew Carter, Paul Shaw and Erik Spiekermann. Moderated by Maxim Zhukov.
John Berry usually describes himself as an editor & typographer — reflecting his care for both the meaning of words and how they are presented. He is president of ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) and the former editor and publisher of U&lc (Upper & lower case). He writes, speaks, and consults extensively on typography, and he has won numerous awards for his book designs. He has written and edited several books, including Language culture type: international type design in the age of Unicode (ATypI/Graphis, 2002), Contemporary newspaper design: shaping the news in the digital age (Mark Batty Publisher, 2004), and U&lc: influencing design & typography (Batty, 2005). He has been a program manager on the Fonts team at Microsoft, where he established improved typographic standards for Windows and other Microsoft products. He lives in Seattle with the writer Eileen Gunn.
Today I’ve released two limited edition prints along with some originals. The prints are based on words penned by William Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas.
‘The Voice of all the Gods’ is a quote from Shakespeare’s ‘Loves Labours Lost.’ The first time I read the passage in which this phrase occurs I couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. The words are extraordinarily rich, and I wanted my visual interpretation to reflect this. The main source of inspiration for the letterforms comes from the 18th century, but I’ve tried to rework or re-imagine them in the spirit of our time. Above all, I wanted my interpretation of Shakespeare’s words to capture their shimmering beauty and harmony.
‘The Voice of all the Gods’
Signed edition of 100, 594 X 420 mm.
Metallic Gold ink on black Plike art paper.
Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ is one of the most powerful and compelling poems I know. I have always found the words incredibly moving. Dramatic, fiery, beautiful and poignant — I wanted my interpretation to capture that. I developed a modern, sharpened italic style which I felt suited the tone of the piece, with what might be described as sharpened flourishes carefully integrated into the design. The forms are based on my cursive italic calligraphy which you can see demonstrated in the video below. I tried to do something unconventional and progressive with this piece. I wanted all the forms to be extremely graceful but also have a tension about them in keeping with the words. I wanted to evoke flames, lightning, and stars blazing in a night sky.
‘Do Not Go Gentle’
Signed edition of 200, 594 X 420 mm.
Gold foil blocked on Midnight blue Plike art paper.
© The Trustees for the Copyright of Dylan Thomas
I have also released several original pieces of art today. Here are two of them, the rest are on my website.
I designed bespoke Roman monumental capital letters. I then commissioned a very talented and respected letter carver to carve rude words into the finest Welsh slate using them.
Bespoke Roman monumental capitals carved in Welsh slate.
50cm X 12.5cm X 7.5cm. Signed by the artist.
One of a series of three.
Bespoke Roman monumental capitals carved in Welsh slate.
25cm X 12.5cm X 7.5cm. Signed by the artist.
One of a series of three.
It has become apparent to me that doing calligraphy makes you a better type designer, and doing type design makes you a better calligrapher. That was a beautiful revelation to me and one that I hope I will continue to benefit from.