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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 15:29

A friendly brush script by Nikola Giacintová, a new classic from Jason Vandenberg, a flexible sans by Fatype, fluid & friendly structure from Latinotype, a new sans by Monotype, a multi-colored face from Underware, an elegant serif by FontFont, and a practical sans from Ludwig Type.

Nikola Giacintová: Rukola

Designed by Nikola Giacintová

Rukola is a friendly brush script that follows in the footsteps of sign painting.

Jason Vandenberg: Bodoni Sans

Designed by Jason Vandenberg

Bodoni Sans is a new classic built on the foundation of two centuries of history.

Fatype: Beausite

Designed by Yassin Baggar

A flexible, medium to high contrast, sans serif — less about designing a stylish decorative design and more about applying contrast onto a neo-grotesk skeleton.

Latinotype: Modernica

Designed by Javier Quintana

Modernica seeks to go beyond the grotesque style and instigate a more fluid and friendly structure while remaining solid in its use.

Monotype: Quire Sans

Designed by Jim Ford

Quire Sans performs with confidence in virtually any setting.

Underware: Tripper Tricolor

With Tripper Tricolor all patriots can set text in their national colors, or in any other color they prefer.

FontFont: FF Franziska

Designed by Jakob Runge

FF Franziska elegantly closes the gap between the artistic formulation of the individual glyphs and the rational functionality of the overall type design.

Ludwig Type: Riga

Designed by Ludwig Übele

Clear and practical, yet warm and polite, Riga is a space-saving and legible typeface designed to work equally well on paper and on the computer screen.




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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 06:57

Three years ago MetaDesign Berlin asked us to design a custom Serif and Sans typeface for the German federal government. They had been assigned to redevelop the government’s corporate design with the typefaces as part of the update. The project was to cover all communication issued by the government and their ministries, online or offline, national or international. It was a demanding and interesting task. Though we were accustomed to working on projects like these for corporations, we were now asked to design “for the people”.

A custom type design job begins with the definition of aesthetic and technical goals, dictated to a large extent by the target group. A typeface for an art school can be more liberally designed than the typeface for a company of financial advisers or a newspaper font, though all three have easily definable target groups. Assumptions about a client’s target group are based on lifestyle, age group, likes and dislikes, etc. and shape the development of an aesthetic design.

BundesSans and BundesSerif

The new typefaces for the German federal government

The technical savvy of the target group — how current their technology is, what devices, browsers, etc. they use — is also crucial. It informs us on the font technology required: font formats, hinting, and so on. The more homogenous the target group, the more straightforward the definitions are upon which we base our design.

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Custom typefaces for the Glasgow School of Art, the northern Italian region of Südtirol, the Dutch weekly newspaper Staatscourant SC, and the Berlin Lottery (an assignment from Connex Advertising, Berlin). Custom type designs with set target groups and applications.

For this project we were faced with the challenge of mapping a goal for a target group that encompassed the general public — all citizens and persons coming into contact with information issued by the German government and its agencies, ranging from the age of 9 to 99, from all educational and cultural backgrounds — which was basically everyone. The written word, whether just a footnote or the headline on a billboard, had to be accessible and user-friendly to this widely diverse group.

Besides the public audience, the other target group for the typeface was the government itself: employees and officials using the fonts, creating information and communicating with them in an office environment. Though smaller than the first target group, it was crucial that their needs be met as well.

Our foremost goal in considering this broad audience was outstanding legibility — creating glyph shapes that made for pleasant reading. Not only because the user group was so diverse but also because the official text issued by the government could at times be complex and detailed.

The second aim was a consequence of the first: the typeface should have no extroverted details. By ornamenting information we would run the risk of distracting the reader. We chose therefore not to give the typeface too much personality, and aimed to design an unbiased yet friendly “transmitter”. This impulse was the opposite as that for a corporate typeface design, where we would enhance the profile with strong recognizable details. We were not competing with another brand in the free market, the typeface did not have to look “cooler” than the one before, it just needed to work “better” by serving a public function.

Translating our next two goals into definable shapes was more straightforward. We wanted to balance femininity and masculinity as well as infuse it with determination and sure-footedness. Both aspects have visual correlations and reflect the values implicit in “democracy”. One recognizes the equality of both sexes, while the other acknowledges the authority of government, tempered by democratic and humanitarian ideals. We strove to make an inclusive typeface, not an exclusive one.

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Both writing and construction were part of the design concept for the two families.

The typefaces the government previously used were a combination of Neue Praxis and Neue Demos by Gerard Unger. These typefaces, originally designed in the 1970s, were built up of fairly coarse pixels and made to function within a specific technical environment where letters were formed by a cathode ray tube. This meant that the design had to match the technology and not the other way around.

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Previously in use for the corporate design of the government: Neue Demos by Gerard Unger. BundesSerif has more definite and dynamic features.

The technical requirements for the BundesSans and BundesSerif were more demanding, requiring cross media, cross platform and cross browser usage. Again, with their heterogenous target group, our aim was to foster the government’s obligation to make information accessible to everyone. As not everyone has the latest computer or software, we had to create backwards-compatible typefaces. That meant the fonts would require hinting on various levels for good display on screens, especially under difficult conditions with font smoothing switched off.

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The fonts rendered in Firefox Windows (left) and Mac OS. The ClearType and grayscale hinting for the web and office fonts was made by Monika Bartels from fontwerk.de

We approached the actual design of the typefaces on the macro and the micro levels. The macro meant defining the general profile or cornerstone of our design. Only after that did we start sketching and drawing letters on the micro level.

The foundation of our design began with general proportions, vertically (especially the ratio uppercase, ascender and x-height) and horizontally. We knew the typefaces should not demand too much space but also should not appear too compact or cramped. Then we looked at the possible shape of the letters for Sans and Serif, and at the level of individuality — recognizability — of the characteristic shapes.

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Our first macro approach to vertical and horizontal proportions.

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Balancing the proportions within the letters, design options (top and middle, blue is our choice) and some problem letters and combinations we needed to aware of.

On the micro level, we methodically considered how pointy/round the curves should be, compared dynamic (humanist) with more solid (constructed) shapes, and tested symmetrical/asymmetrical serifs. At that point in the process we gave great thought to each detail, questioned and discussed — sometimes fiercely — all the features that led us in the end to conclusions and possible design options. These were discussed with MetaDesign who assisted in streamlining our decisions to correspond with their modernized corporate design. Only after that did we present the development to the clients.

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The glyphs’ individuality increases recognizability.

It is not easy to present individual letters to a client, laymen of type, and ask them to make decisions on details. Commonly, the client finds certain features strange because they have never been exposed to them close up. Characteristics of Times New Roman and Arial might be not questioned because they are never examined in detail, but when viewing a new alphabet through a magnifying glass, questions on forms and proportions suddenly arise — “why isn’t the letter ‘t’ as tall as the ‘h’ or ‘b’?” For this reason we always use meaningful words in our presentations — in this case, Bildung, Berlin, Demokratie — rather than individual letters.

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Presentation of the typeface to the client.

After finalizing the last design decisions, we presented the complete glyph set of each weight/style on A2 boards (tabloid format x 2) to the client and after a few more detail tweaks, received the final “go ahead” signature on each — a green light for the last step of the production process. The result was two families for DTP, web and office use with each available weight in Roman and Italic, containing about 580 glyphs covering the European languages that use Latin script.

We have learned from this assignment that the usual corporate type design reasoning only applies to a certain extent. It is not a quest for the most groundbreaking “winning” solution or a visualisation of a company profile, because it is outside ‘commercialistic’ thinking where the sole objective is to increase and maximise financial gain. Our objective here was to create an understated design with a sense of integration, not exclusivity — universality instead of selectivity.

The project ran smoothly and our progress was viewed with great interest by the Bundespresseamt (German government press office) who mediated the assignment. Though their communication specialists were familiar with the processes of corporate design, the development of a typeface was something new to them. They came to see great advantages in a new, custom typeface over having their previous typeface overhauled. The latter would have meant an upgrade from Type1 to OpenType and web fonts, resulting in considerable license fees. The custom font allowed them to freely use and distribute it within the governmental bodies and ministries.

BundesSerif and BundesSans received awards from the International Forum Design and the German Designers Club.

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Requested by the client: the design of an uppercase ß, the German double s (a ligature of ſs, a long s followed by a regular one) which typically becomes SS in uppercase writing. The letter has been included in the Unicode standard in 2008 as U+1E9E.

Prof. Jürgen Huber and Martin Wenzel are two experienced and enthusiastic type designers forming the custom type design partnership, supertype.de.
Jürgen studied Communication Design at the Folkwang University in Essen with Prof. Volker Küster before he worked for MetaDesign until 2004. Since 2012 he runs http://typedepartment.de together with Malte Herok. He currently teaches typography at the University of Applied Sciences HTW, Berlin.
Martin studied at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, while embarking on his own type design projects, eventually launching his foundry http://martinplusfonts.com in 2011. Martin also teaches typography part-time at the University of Applied Sciences HTW in Berlin.




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BundesSans and BundesSerif — truly democratic typefaces

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, make a font"
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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 16:07

An Erik Spiekermann exclusive from Hamilton Wood Type, a sturdy slab by Rene Bieder, a high-class display from Avondale Type Co, a brush script by Mika Melvas, a modest slab serif from Type Me Fonts, a monospaced family by Matthew Butterick, a contemporary script from Petra Dočekalová, and a super family by Playtype.

Hamilton Wood Type: HWT Artz

Designed by Erik Spiekermann

HWT Artz was designed by venerable type designer Erik Spiekermann exclusively for his own print studio, specifically to be cut into large size wood type.

Rene Bieder: Choplin

Designed by Rene Bieder

Choplin is a modern and clear geometric slab serif with a sturdy heart.

Avondale Type Co: ATC Timberline

Designed by Alex Sheyn

ATC Timberline is a wide display font, evoking the high class side of speed and mechanics.

Mika Melvas: Sanelma

Designed by Mika Melvas

Sanelma is a brush script inspired by hot rod lettering and sign painting.

Type Me Fonts: Muriza

Designed by Jürgen Schwarz & Jakob Runge

Muriza is a modest slab serif with temptious curves.

Matthew Butterick: Triplicate

Designed by Matthew Butterick

Triplicate is modeled on several faces from the golden age of the typewriter — a time when designers treated monospacing not merely as a limitation, but also an opportunity.

Petra Dočekalová: Monolina

Designed by Petra Dočekalová

Monolina is a contemporary monolinear script that is based on the contrast between classical calligraphy and quickly jotted manuscript.

Playtype: Berlingske

Designed by Jonas Hecksher

The design is carefully balanced to deliver significant modernization while paying homage to a unique heritage.




Sponsored by Hoefler & Co.
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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Saturday, 07 Jun 2014 16:57

A versatile sans from TipoType, a dynamic script by Sudtipos, an extreme display face from Hoefler & Co, a quirky hand-drawn family by Thinkdust, a geometric sans from Mint Type, a pair of playful stencils by Font Bureau, a multi-sources-inspired titling family from Kyle Wayne Benson, and a robust stencil by House Industries.

TipoType: Libertad

Designed by Fernando Díaz

Libertad is a sans-serif that mixes humanist and grotesk models.

Sudtipos: Abelina

Designed by Yani Arabena & Guille Vizzari

Abelina can be used in display sizes for titles where part of the central premise is to emulate certain features of gestural handwriting.

Hoefler & Co: Nitro & Turbo

Most type families begin with a roman font of moderate weight, and build outwards toward their peripheral bolds and italics. Nitro starts from the extreme — an aggressively sloped italic of massive weight — and adds an equal and opposite form, a backslanted style called Turbo.

Thinkdust: Nanami Handmade

Designed by Alex Haigh

Nanami Handmade comes in two styles — a solid and a hand-drawn, each of which has eight weights — and carries a quirky, mischievous charm.

Mint Type: Proba Pro

Designed by Andriy Konstantynov

Proba Pro is a geometric sans with lowered x-height, prominent ascenders & descenders, and subtle humanist touch.

Font Bureau: Tick & Tock

Designed by Cyrus Highsmith

Tick & Tock play the same game in two different ways; they’re distinct typefaces that see themselves in each other.

Kyle Wayne Benson: Good News Sans

Designed by Kyle Wayne Benson

The inspiration for Good News Sans is rooted in early twentieth century titling, gothic woodtype, geometrics like Futura Display, poster fonts of that era, and strong lowercase sets like Din.

House Industries: Yorklyn Stencil

Designed by Ken Barber

Yorklyn Stencil’s robust curves and deceptively delicate breaks will withstand a wide variety of harsh conditions with unprecedented aplomb.




Sponsored by Hoefler & Co.
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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Thursday, 29 May 2014 13:25

A graceful sans from Typotheque, a modern grotesk by Suitcase Type, a contemporary serif from Bold Monday, a letterpress family by Yellow Design, a versatile sans from Milieu Grotesque, a brush script by Doubletwo, a bold display face from Monokrom, and a modern sign painter family by Kyle Wayne Benson.

Typotheque: Valter

Designed by Nikola Djurek

Valter is a graceful and slightly cheeky collection of sans-serif display fonts inspired by pointed-pen writing.

Suitcase Type Foundry: Urban Grotesk

Designed by Tomáš Brousil

Urban Grotesk attempts to follow the best of traditions of Grotesk typefaces: rounded arches, slightly thinner connecting strokes and a vertical shadowing axis, where outstrokes are terminated strictly in perpendicular to the stroke direction.

Bold Monday: Brando

Designed by Mike Abbink

Brando is a contemporary serif with humanist proportions, exploring the balance between mechanical and egyptian forms.

Yellow Design Studio: Eveleth

Designed by Ryan Martinson

Eveleth is a high-resolution letterpress family with exceptional realism and vintage charm.

Milieu Grotesque: Patron

Designed by Timo Gaessner

Patron is an expressive yet versatile grotesk, characterized by a generous x-height, distinctive stroke endings and an unconventional shift in balance.

Doubletwo Studios: XXII YeahScript

Designed by Lecter Johnson

XXII YeahScript is a brush script with a large range of alternates — a great fit for any sign painter job.

Monokrom: Mønster

Designed by Sindre Bremnes

Mønster’s odd letter forms and exaggerated shapes combine into powerful, vigorous patterns, making a bold statement of any title.

Kyle Wayne Benson: Kansas Casual

Designed by Kyle Benson

Kansas Casual provides a completely unique take on a overdone classic with proportions and crossbar heights inspired by the more friendly Chicago style.




Sponsored by Hoefler & Co.
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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Tuesday, 13 May 2014 14:07

An “old Hollywood” inspired sans from Jessica Hische, a harmonious family by Laura Worthington, a contemporary serif from Grilli Type, a stylish slab by FaceType, a gentle sans from Production Type, a versatile sans by Tour De Force, a brush inspired face from Commercial Type, and a calligraphic script by Aerotype.

Jessica Hische: Silencio Sans

Designed by Jessica Hische

The name Silencio references silent films, but this font would feel as at home in magazines, invitations, and fancy food packaging as it does on the silver screen.

Laura Worthington: Adorn

Designed by Laura Worthington

Adorn arms designers with a breathtakingly large number of faces that work harmoniously, despite the distinctiveness of each.

Grilli Type: GT Sectra

Designed by Marc Kappeler, Dominik Huber & Noël Leu

A contemporary serif typeface combining the calligraphy of the broad nip pen with the sharpness of the scalpel.

FaceType: Adria Slab

Designed by Marcus Sterz

Adria Slab is a stylish slab serif that comes in seven weights and charming upright italics.

Production Type: Cogito

Designed by Jean-Baptiste Levée

Initially designed as a personal remix of mechanically engineered typefaces, Cogito has all the clarity of its models but with a calmer tone.

Tour De Force: Hedon

Designed by Dusan Jelesijevic

Hedon is a neutral, versatile and legible partner for any kind of publication.

Commercial Type: Gabriello

Designed by Paul Barnes & Miguel Reyes

Gabriello is slanted on two axes, both horizontally and vertically, giving the energy of a script without causing production problems.

Aerotype: Arbordale

Designed by Stephen Miggas

Arbordale communicates with casual confidence, a calligraphic script with roots in the midwest.




Sponsored by Hoefler & Co.
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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Saturday, 19 Apr 2014 12:11

Cloths of Heaven is Seb Lester’s interpretation of ‘Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’, a poem by the renowned Irish poet W. B. Yeats. It is a continuation of his exploration of the theme of beauty in the context of letterform design. He has produced a limited edition screen print and also collaborated with The London Embroidery Studio to produce an embroidered piece, available as a small-run limited edition.

“Yeats’s poem references ‘embroidered cloths’ and ‘gold and silver threads’, so I wanted to try to make the screen print look like an exquisite and timelessly beautiful piece of highly ornamental needlework. I’ve drawn from Medieval, Renaissance and 18th-century sources but I have also tried to integrate personal, progressive and irreverent flourishing ideas. The result is a hybrid stylistic treatment that I think could only exist in the 21st century.”

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He explained that his relatively new-found love of traditional calligraphy has given him new insights into the Latin alphabet. “In calligraphy I have found a joyful and visceral way to construct letterforms. The letters that appear before my eyes as I write have a warmth and humanity that is very hard to achieve with computers. Calligraphy, combined with my knowledge of digital letterform design, has given me the confidence and I hope the understanding to explore and challenge preconceived notions about what constitutes correct flourishing and decorative ornament technique.”

More information at seblester.co.uk

Technical Specs:
‘Cloths of Heaven’ by Seb Lester, 2014, available as a print and embroidered artwork. Based on the poem ‘Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by W B Yeats.

A2 (594mm X 420mm) limited edition screenprint, edition of 100.
Metallic gold ink on midnight blue Plike art paper, 330gsm.
Signed and numbered by the artist.

A2 (594mm X 420mm) limited edition embroidery, edition of 5.
Gold and silver thread on Italian midnight blue silk twill.
Each piece comes with a hand written, signed note of authenticity.




Sponsored by Hoefler & Co.
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Cloths of heaven

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, calligraphy, lettering, post..."
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Date: Monday, 14 Apr 2014 13:22

Aware that there is no such thing as total neutrality, Neutral typeface explores how the absence of stylistic associations can help the reader to engage with the content of a text.

Is the typeface neutral?
Neutral began as my graduation project for my BA in graphic design from the Royal Academy of Art (The Hague) in 2005. It is the result of an attempt to create a typeface free of all connotations or associations that could distract a reader from the text, a font that delivers the character of the written material untouched by the character of the typeface design. The whole project started with a discussion about why certain typefaces seemed to ‘age better’, or indeed age less than others: there seemed to be something about some of the big milestones of the 20th century like Times or Univers that kept them fresh after more than 50 years.

This got me thinking about Plato’s doctrine of Ideas, ‘original, perfect and unalterable’ mental archetypes representing every class of object that exists in our material world. Plato posits that these idealised, abstracted forms enable us to identify real-world instances of their type by comparison, and I imagined that this had to be true for typefaces as well. Neutral uses design principles to examine timelessness, archetypes and neutrality in graphic design, and specifically in type design.

The project consisted of various parts: a book describing the design process, a website recording email discussions of the project with Daniel van der Velden, Experimental Jetset, Uwe Loesch, Bernd Kuchenbeiser and Helmut Schmid (among others), a series of posters by various international designers using the typeface, and of course the typeface itself.

As the discussion with other designers unfolded, I found neutrality to be an elusive, ambiguous quality, one that I would have to explore in order to define for myself what it would mean for a typeface to be truly neutral.

I touched upon various fields along the way, for example, the Conceptual Art movement of the 1960s, which emphasised the purity of the idea-as-artwork over its materialisation, and whose proponents produced artworks that in many cases only existed in written form.

Kosuth quote

Joseph Kosuth is one of the main proponents of the Conceptual Art movement, and has been part of it since its beginnings in the 1960s. His famous One and Three Chairs (1965) is also based in the Platonic idea theory and first prompted me to explore it. The above quote is taken from his 1996 article “Intent” (in: The Art Bulletin, Vol. 78 No. 3).

Another source of inspiration were the ideas of 16th-century tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyū, who greatly influenced the wabi-cha style of chanoyu tea ceremony. This style tries to attain perfection in the essential aspects of the ceremony by the removal of anything which could divert the focus from the essential elements: the tea and the interaction of host and guests.

Sen no Rikyū

According to historical tradition, these were the words Rikyū used to explain all the secrets of the tea ceremony (from A.L. Sadler, Cha No Yu, Japan, 1933).

Through these explorations of various design disciplines and the exchanges with other designers I arrived at a clearer definition of neutrality that could be applied to a typeface:

Neutrality can be regarded as an auxiliary construction that lets us describe things and events that appear free of connotations to a specific social and cultural group at a specific point in time. Because everybody’s backgrounds and expectations differ, however, the more closely we attempt to answer the question ‘What is a neutral typeface?’, the fewer people agree on various details, and the more the proposal of a neutral typeface becomes a paradox.

If I asked you to draw a water glass
The Platonic Idea or archetype was one of the starting points. We often find it at work in design: if I asked you to draw a water glass, I could be quite certain that you would draw a cylinder (or more precisely, a conical frustum) within a rather narrow range of parameters. These Ideas are not innate, but are acquired from our cultural background, which is why Neutral could be neutral in our culture, but not, for example, in Elizabethan England.

Chope Unie water glass by Duralex

Chope Unie water glass by Duralex, France, courtesy of Duralex.

Measuring old typefaces to construct a new one
In order to discover this Idea of a typeface I sought to distill all typefaces (excluding a few fringe groups) into an average. To keep my own background from interfering with the design process, I devised a system of comparisons of typeface genres and sub-genres to establish what kind of typeface Neutral would have to be to do any justice to its name. This system addressed questions such as: Which shapes are more restrained, closer to a possible archetype? Which of two forms is more commonly used? Which form is less dependent on physical methods or technologies? Which forms are more likely to result in distinguishable (but unobtrusive) letterforms? Which forms are more likely to provide a coherent word-image? Which of two otherwise equally suitable groups of shapes are the plainer, simpler ones?

Neutral comparisons

Ideally, I would have measured all Latin-based typefaces, but that was hardly practical. To save time, I first compared first different genres (such as Serif vs Sans Serif) and later sub-genres (Grotesk vs Humanist Sans) with one another; according to the outcome of this, the neutral typeface would be a grotesk with a slight humanist touch.

Neutral measurements
Neutral measurements

How can the roundness of a curve be measured? How can I define the angle of a stroke termination? New insights and lots of math at every step of the parameter-gathering process.

With these results in hand, I then began to measure key parameters of representatives of these most archetypal genres. The averages of these would then produce the scaffolding onto which Neutral was drawn.

Neutral structure
Neutral structure

You could easily think that designing Neutral was much like a process of just blending different typefaces with each other. But apart from a list of design principles, all the measurements resulted only in a very loose scaffolding within which I had to draw the typeface. The illustration also shows how important key horizontal and vertical proportions are to the appearance of a typeface. Neutral’s proportions are as average as was possible, to make a typeface as unnoticeable as possible.

See the actual measurement table of selected fonts.

Neutral again
One great advantage of being both a graphic designer and type designer is that your work in one discipline feeds back into your work in the other: you can make the typefaces that you want to use (or imagine that you would want to use), and then you can evaluate your typefaces based on how they perform in application. But over the years I noticed that I wanted to use Neutral less and less frequently, and whenever I did, I wanted to make some small corrections here and there. That’s how I knew I wanted to go back to Neutral, and make it as good a typeface as it was an idea for a typeface.

Neutral comparisons

Measurements of the aperture size in the lowercase e, again as a placeholder or indicator for the design of many other apertures in the typeface: This lineup shows a gradation from the most constructed grotesk to the most ‘humanist’ sans.

Keeping it the same, but changing everything about it
Basically I decided to draw it all over again — pretty much from scratch — but was immediately confronted with a fundamental decision: Should I re-evaluate the steps of comparing and measuring typefaces that had initially provided the parameters for Neutral’s construction?

In the end I decided against it, because the result would not be a new version of Neutral, but a new typeface altogether. I just wanted to design the same typeface, only better. My plan was to eventually upgrade all existing users of the original Neutral to this new version, so I would have to keep everything the same, yet change everything about it.

Very soon, I came to a point where I did want to use it again, indeed very much so. And there was still a steady demand for the typeface from others. These two things were nice accelerators that finally pushed me towards the finish line.

Thousands of invisible changes
What is new about this new Neutral? In a word, everything. Using the original typeface as a guideline to trace over, every glyph was carefully redrawn, every spacing and kerning decision revisited and subtly improved. At the same time, my goal was to keep the original qualities of the typeface the same: the quiet evenness, the unobtrusive character, and the great performance in long text, even in smaller sizes.

There are a few areas where the improvements are quite obvious: the new Neutral’s punctuation is much more refined, many accents that were less familiar to me in 2005 are now drawn in a way that their users actually want them to look, and spacing is much better. The biggest improvement, however, and the one that I am the happiest with, are the figures. Years of practical design experience gave me insight into working with figures that I incorporated into the new design. Also, I decided to make lining figures the default instead of text figures, since many people don’t use all-caps features.

Neutral has four figure styles, plus fractions

Neutral’s figures have been completely redrawn, and exist in four versions per style. The default figures are proportional lining figures at the height of caps, but they also exist (together with currency, math symbols and selected punctuation) in tabular versions. Instead of old style figures, Neutral additionally features text figures that are smaller than cap height and stand out less in running text. They too come in proportional and tabular versions.

Is the typeface neutral?
Many times during the process I caught myself asking the question that you are also perhaps asking now: Is it still Neutral? And is it still neutral?

A typeface is both a tool for designing, and a tool for reading. The fewer distracting details there are, the more invisible the typeface, and the clearer the text becomes. In the old version of Neutral, there were a couple of things that were not as invisible as I wanted them to be when I started redrawing it. In that way, I guess it’s more neutral now than it ever was.

As stated earlier, however, neutrality is determined by the expectations and norms of a group of people, and the closer we look at the details, the fewer people will agree with any one particular decision. That means that while the parameters were only a loose framework that could be filled in with anyone’s ideas of neutrality, the finished typeface was of course filled in by me and me alone, and so in the final analysis, it is only absolutely neutral for the smallest possible group – just me.

And while the goal of the methodology designed to create this typeface was to abstract the design process away from me, in the end I was still the one who designed this process, who both formulated the questions and answered them. This would have been true regardless of whether ten or a hundred or a thousand comparisons and measurements had been made. A larger data set might have diminished the room for interpretation, but it could never have eliminated it completely.

The plain, reserved nature of the typeface that resulted from filling in this framework of parameters will be quite neutral to a quite large number of people, even though we may argue about the details. In the end we can not create something completely neutral, something to which none of us can attribute any qualities. But we can approximate the formal idea of neutrality to some degree.
And even if some would not consider this typeface to be neutral at all — maybe it was only through this project that their own thinking about neutrality was triggered. And in that respect also the project would be a success. It is more important to ask the question than to answer it.




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An idea of a typeface

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, make a font"
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Date: Friday, 04 Apr 2014 13:03

A monumental family from Hoefler & Co, a casual sans by Type Supply, a seaworthy display from Kyle Wayne Benson, a ferry inspired face by Letters from Sweden, an extensive script family from Martina Flor, a strong grotesk by The Northern Block, a functional slab from ReType, and a bright iconset by Symbolset.

Hoefler & Co: Surveyor

A monumental family of typefaces designed for print and screen, and for sizes large and small.

Type Supply: Marigny

Designed by Tal Leming

A casual typeface that was drawn with serious typography in mind.

Kyle Wayne Benson: Maritime Champion

Designed by Kyle Wayne Benson

This peacoat grubbing, all hands on decking, accordion serenading font is not for the faint of heart. He’s all caps all the time.

Letters from Sweden: Ferry

Designed by Erik Moberg

The second contribution to Letters from Sweden’s “Fabrik Suite”.

Martina Flor: Wonderhand

Designed by Martina Flor

Wonderhand is new extensive family of scripts designed in six widths and 3 weights.

The Northern Block: Rein Grotesk

Designed by Jason Aitcheson

Rein Grotesk is a low contrast typeface with a strong, neutral personality.

ReType: Laski Slab

Designed by Paula Mastrangelo & Ramiro Espinoza

A comprehensive suite of 20 fonts conceived for editorial purposes.

Symbolset: SS Glyphish

Designed by Joseph Wain

Glyphish is an array of bright icons in two complementary styles.




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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 18:28

A short film on sign painter, Mike Langley:




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The Sign Painter

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, signage, video"
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Date: Sunday, 16 Mar 2014 16:53

An elegant script from Sudtipos, an aggressive face by Blackletra, a hand made family from Latinotype, a dynamic sans by Rui Abreu, a geometric sans from Rene Bieder, a cursive fat face by Dzianis Serabrakou, a lively script from Lián Types, a well-balanced slab by Parachute, a lovely sign painting font from Liebe Fonts, and a contemporary serif by Schwartzco.

Sudtipos: Courtesy Script

Designed by Alejandro Paul

Courtesy Script captures the elegance and propriety of finely practiced Spencerian penmanship.

Blackletra: Haltrix

Designed by Daniel Sabino

Haltrix is an aggressive and angular script.

Latinotype: Showcase

Designed by Daniel Hernández & Paula Nazal Selaive

Showcase is a hand made font consisting of four styles with a set of ornaments & dingbats.

Rui Abreu: Signo

Designed by Rui Abreu

Signo is a dynamic sans-serif with reverse contrast, designed for editorial and branding.

Rene Bieder: Campton

Designed by Rene Bieder

Campton is a simple sans-serif with a geometric skeleton.

Dzianis Serabrakou: Bouquet

Designed by Dzianis Serabrakou

Bouquet is a cursive fat typeface influenced by brush writing.

Lián Types: Dream Script

Designed by Maximiliano Sproviero

Dream Script is a lively chancery with accompanying caps inspired by Trajan.

Parachute: Bague Slab Pro

Designed by Panos Vassiliou

Bague Slab Pro is a very clean and legible typeface with a warm and well-balanced texture.

Liebe Fonts: Liebe Doris

Designed by Ulrike Wilhelm

Liebe Doris — the beauty of all-American sign painting and the meticulous craft of German engineering.

Schwartzco: Gravitas

Designed by Christian Schwartz & Dino Sanchez

Gravitas is a contemporary take on the Roman inscriptional capitals, was designed by Christian Schwartz and Dino Sanchez originally as part of their high-concept Luxury Collection.




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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Friday, 28 Feb 2014 13:33

The adjustable Clampersand from Hand-Eye Supply.

AdjustableClampersand_01_large

HT @opentype




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Clampersand

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography"
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Date: Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 16:41

The First Printed Page Numbers

The image below is a scan of a recto leaf printed by Arnold Ther Hoernen, Cologne, 1470 (Cologne’s second printer after Ulrich Zel). The book, Sermo in festo praesentationis beatissimae Mariae virginis (ISTC: ir00303000) is special in that it is the first (extant) book to include printed foliation (‘page numbers’*), here printed in the recto margins, half way down the page.

3381695

© Copyright 2010 Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf

Printing page numbers (something that appears quite necessary and obvious today) only became common typographic practice from the second quarter of the sixteenth century. And prior to the printed book, ‘foliation remained rare till the end of the Middle Ages’**; and of limited indexical or citational use as manuscripts were very rarely identical.

Today it is hard to imagine books without pagination. Page numbers make it easy to quote, cite, and to cross reference — they make accessing, studying, and comparing texts much easier.

composite-page-numbers-first

Perhaps you noticed that the Arabic numerals — 4, 5, and 7 — in my composite image differ from those we use today. These forms were common in medieval manuscripts. (The J is simply the Roman numeral 1.)

arabic-numerals-evolution

Figure charting the partial evolution of Arabic numerals. Source: The Development of Arabic Numerals in Europe Exhibited in Sixty-Four Tables.

It wasn’t until the tenth century that Arabic numerals came to Spain, though they were not commonly used until the fourteenth century. From the end of the fifteenth century, the numerals 4, 5, and 7 begin to take the forms we are familiar with today.

References:
*Foliation is the sequential numbering of leaves; pagination is the sequential numbering of pages.

** The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books, p. 33

Margaret M. Smith. “Printed foliation: forerunner to printed page-numbers?” — Gutenberg Jahrbuch 63 (1988), pp. 54–57

Introduction to Manuscript Studies — Clemens & Graham, pp. 92–94

Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages — Bernhard Bischoff, p. 132

The Development of Arabic Numerals in Europe Exhibited in Sixty-Four Tables (Oxford, 1915) [available at archive.org]

The Oxford Companion to the Book
, Vol. 2, p. 726 & 994




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The First Printed Page Numbers

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, typographic firsts"
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Date: Friday, 14 Feb 2014 08:08

Every typeface taken seriously enough by its designer will teach valuable lessons. From Signo I learned that in designing a reverse contrast typeface, the challenge isn’t so much in the contrast, or in the black part of the letter for that matter. The conventions for that part are being disregarded, played with, reversed, so the white part of the letter has to assume greater control. And it leads one to rethink what ‘reversed’ really means.


signo fonts

Signo started as an attempt at designing a sans serif with reverse contrast. However, I didn’t really want an eccentric type suitable only for headlines; rather I wanted to design a usable and versatile typeface and try to use the reverse contrast in service of readability and functionality. I had in mind some advantages of the reverse contrast: the concentrated weight at the top and bottom of the letter would favor the horizontal continuity in lines of text, and the thinner stems meant that the letters could be narrower — a good thing for a versatile and functional typeface. The x-height could also naturally be taller, since the black of the letters would be “expanded” vertically.

signo-1

Reversing the contrast
In the first sketches I tried some letters with reverse contrast, in witch the contrast wasn’t merely reversed, but had a deeper relation to a calligraphic modulation of the strokes. These shapes were fun but I also wanted to design a usable typeface both for headlines and text, so after the first outlines in FontLab I soon went astray from these sketches towards more conventional shapes. That begun a long process of going back and forth, between an experimental and fun, but less usable approach, and a conventional but functional one.

signo-4

signo-5

At this point I was thinking too much in terms of ‘reverse contrast.’ I was going for a logical, mathematical approach, so my objectives were being reduced to the mere reversal of the conventional ratio between thicks and thins. And sure enough, the results were quite simply ugly letters (not shown here). Reversing the contrast, felt more and more like an arbitrary act, an imposed mathematical inversion of a basic optical principle of letter forms. In Signo, I was trying to find a way to make this feel natural. How could a reverse contrast typeface be designed in a way that felt natural?

I knew I didn’t want anything to feel artificially reversed or strange in Signo, even if the horizontal strokes were heavier than the vertical strokes. I slowly left the notions of contrast aside and approached the shapes more freely. That meant coming to terms with the first sketches and realizing that If the stress axis is rotated far enough, the weight would shift towards to top and bottom parts of the letters, without anything having to be artificially inverted. Most importantly, I didn’t have to insist so much on notions of contrast, which is just the rate between the thick and thin parts of the strokes, which in turn are only the black part of the letter. This return to the sketches also made the designing of Signo really fun again.

signo-6

The counters
Since I stopped concentrating so much on the strokes, I began playing more with the angle of stress as the commanding principle for rotating the different concentrations of black around fixed counters. The shapes grew increasingly more organic and playful, a bit freer from the traditional conventions (or reversed conventions) in sans serif typefaces, and the counters began to rule the design. In a way the black felt like soft, pliable matter, easy to mold around hard and solid white shapes. The black in Signo, is ‘blobby’ with an asymmetric distribution of weight, but it is shaped around solid, open counters, which provide the order and rationality I was looking for.

signo-7

Floating effect
Drawing from Roger Excofon’s idea of shifting the weight to the top half of the letters in the beautiful Olive Antique, In Signo too, the black is distributed asymmetrically around the counters. The letters are heavier at the top, with more concentration to the right. This way, especially when set big, the letters seem to be lifted up slightly. The stems are also shaped to accentuate this effect, with some stems curving outwards at the top, while others shrink slightly in width towards the baseline.

Metrics
The constant element of the design process, even with all the experimenting across an entire year, were the vertical metrics. That probably had to do with the use I had in mind for Signo, from the outset. I imagined a charismatic yet versatile typeface used in magazines for both headlines and text. The ascenders and descenders are short and the x-height is relatively tall, facilitating open counters. Good proportions for smaller text sizes, but also for punchy headlines.

signo-8

The family
Signo comes with 6 weights from thin to bold. The matching italics have a cursive flavor and will add warmth and variety to the page. The weights include two variations for text, regular, and book. The Regular provides stronger headlines and darker captions to match the main text, while the book is a lighter option for text.

signo-9

By Rui Abreu.




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Making Signo

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, maka a font, new fonts, reve..."
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 15:14

An indulgent display face from Positype, a toolbox of type by Hold Fast Foundry, a versatile family from Bold Monday, a whimsical swash by Latinotype, a flag building typeface from Always With Honor & Scribble Tone, a humanist sans by Type Dynamic, a highly legible sans from Tipografies, and a modern sans by The Northern Block.

Positype: Lust Slim

Designed by Neil Summerour

Lust Slim is packed with alternates to play with — enough to turn you on and satisfy.

Hold Fast Foundry: Industry Inc

Designed by Mattox Shuler

Industry Inc comprises numerous standalone styles along with a layered type system.

Bold Monday: Nitti Grotesk

Designed by Pieter van Rosmalen

Nitti Grotesk is the proportional companion to Nitti and part of a larger collection of grotesque inspired typefaces by Pieter van Rosmalen.

Latinotype: Australis Pro Swash

Designed by Francisco Galvez

Australis Swash is a new variant that adds to the Australis Pro family and it brings a touch of whimsy and mannerism to the shape of the cursive letters.

Always With Honor & Scribble Tone: Flagsmith

Over 100 shapes and 1,000 alternates that can be mixed and matched to create a sea of unique flags.

Type Dynamic: Revisal

Revisal is a humanist sans family with 7 weights, from hairline to black, with corresponding italics.

Tipografies: Nomada

Designed by Jordi Embodas

Nomada explores the concept of typefaces on the move continuously: sometimes printed, in books, catalogues, posters or packaging; at other times projected on screens of mobile and fixed devices, as text or as image.

The Northern Block: Acrom

Designed by Mariya V. Pigoulevskaya

Acrom is a geometric sans with a minimal stroke contrast designed with a modern, contemporary context in mind.




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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Friday, 07 Feb 2014 15:01

Unusual Fifteenth-century Fonts

Günther Zainer from Reutlingen introduced printing to Augsburg, Germany in 1468. He likely trained in Strasbourg with Johann Mentelin (who later went into business with Jenson and Johannes de Colonia in Venice). Zainer, during his decade-long career (he died in 1478), published some 100 books.

Günther Zainer used two Gothic types and three Romans. His Roman types are among the most unusual produced during the fifteenth century.

Zainer’s first roman (Type 3:107R) of 1472 is already leaving behind the Gothic influences of the very earliest roman types, but note the H with the ‘pearl’ in the crossbar.

GfT0462.2-zainer

Günther Zainer (Type 3:107R)

This decoration is taken a step further with his next Roman (Type 4:95R)** used from 1472 through 1477. Note the ‘pearls’ in the letters H, I, L, M, N, and T.

GfT0462.3-zainer

Günther Zainer (Type 4:95R)

His third roman (Type 4*:95R), first used in 1473, is unusual in that it mixes Roman and Gothic majuscules (capitals). You can see too very clear Gothic (Gothic Rotunda / Semitextualis Formata) influences in the lowercase.

GfT0666.1-zainer-4*-95R

Günther Zainer (Type 4*:95R)

This typeface is better classified a semi-roman, an interesting devolution and departure from his two earlier Romans.

Images courtesy of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

** Konrad Haebler attributes this font (Type 4:95R; GfT0464) to Johann Bämler who used it for Sententiarum variationes, seu Synonyma (ISTC: if00201700) ca. 1479. However, it is almost certainly the work of Günther Zainer.




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Unusual Fifteenth-Century Fonts

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, typographic firsts"
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Date: Monday, 27 Jan 2014 22:11

My new favorite Tumblr is from Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian at Leiden University.

Though not medieval, this late sixteenth-century book is in fact six books in one:

tumblr_mzvbwbFULe1soj7s4o1_r2_500

Image: Gif by Erik Kwakkel, from images in the National Library of Sweden.

Follow @erik_kwakkel on Twitter for more.




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Marvelous Medieval Books

Author: "johno" Tags: "books"
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Date: Monday, 27 Jan 2014 21:49

An eroded display by HVD Fonts, a wide sans from Type Dynamic, an inline slab by Yellow Design Studio, a versatile monoline from Parachute, a geometric sans by Graviton, an elegant script from Fenotype, an experimental face by Onrepeat, and a titling face from Type Together.

HVD Fonts: Brandon Printed

Designed by Hannes von Döhren

An eroded, printed look with four variations of every letter.

Type Dynamic: Pieta

A wide sans type family inspired by old lettering from the Netherlands.

Yellow Design Studio: Gist

Designed by Ryan Martinson

An inline slab serif with a retro yet contemporary vibe.

Parachute: Bague Sans Pro

Designed by Panos Vassiliou

A versatile monoline typeface with a distinct and eye-catching personality.

Graviton: Gubia

Designed by Pablo Balcells

A geometric, sans serif typeface with a slightly condensed design.

Fenotype: The Carpenter

Designed by Emil Karl Bertell

An elegant and versatile connected script family of three weights.

Onrepeat: Port

Designed by João Oliveira

An experimental Didone typeface with a modern twist.

Type Together: Abril Titling

Designed by José Scaglione & Veronika Burian

A low contrast typeface for headlines.




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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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Date: Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 15:54

The First Book Printed in Italy

During my research for an upcoming book* on the life and work of German Renaissance typographer Erhard Ratdolt, I spent quite some time looking at the introduction of printing to Italy (Ratdolt worked in Venice from 1476 to 1486, thereafter returning to his native Augsburg). The first printers in Italy were, unsurprisingly, from Germany, and they likely were associated with Gutenberg, Fust and Schoeffer. I won’t go into the details about the introduction of printing to Italy. Suffice to say, by 1465 Sweynheym and Pannartz had arrived at the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, about 60 km east of Rome. The same year they printed a Latin Grammar (a schoolbook that had been incredibly popular throughout the Middle Ages) by the fourth-century tutor of Jerome, the Roman Grammarian Aelius Donatus, of which, sadly, no copy has survived.

Some time before the end of September 1465**, they printed Cicero’s De oratore, the first extant book printed on Italian soil. Lastly, before moving their press to Rome, they printed their first dated book (29 October, 1465), Opera by the third-century author, Lactantius.

The page below is from their De oratore of 1465:

cicdero-1465

Photo credit: University of Barcelona. [For a larger version of the same type (but used in the Lactantius).]

This is the first Roman type. More accurately it is a semi-Roman or semi-Gothic, the letterforms modeled on contemporary Italian bookhands. The capitals are clearly roman; the N is unusual in that its diagonal stroke meets the right stem quite high — like I have seen in some Rustic capitals in later Medieval manuscript books (though Rustic capitals are, of course, more condensed). The G looks almost like a sans serif and has a tiny aperture. In the lowercase there are more than traces of the uncial letter, especially in the form of the h with its toes turned in. The lowercase still retains some of the angularity and lateral compression of the Gothic letter. Though the type is quite dark (and has low contrast), it is tightly spaced and rather condensed, but appears much lighter than a page of Gothic type owing to the relatively long descenders, creating more interlinear white space. Relatively few contractions and ligatures — a t + i ligature and a nice disconnected c + t ligature. Note the spur on the I, a remnant of the Gothic letter. The squat ampersand is quite beautiful too.

GfT0549.1

Sweynheym & Pannartz Subiaco type [GfT0549]. Image courtesy of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

I think it’s quite incredible that this book and its type has survived, and that just about all of the type we read today owes a debt to prototypographers like Sweynheym and Pannartz.

*Erhard Ratdolt — Renaissance Typographer, to be published later this year — fingers crossed!

**The Leipzig copy, now in Moscow, contains annotations dated 30 September, 1465.




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The first book printed in Italy

Author: "johno" Tags: "typography, Incunabula, type history, ty..."
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Date: Thursday, 09 Jan 2014 08:36

A reversed-stress face via Klim, a friendly display from Gunnar Link, a low contrast sans by Type Dynamic, a versatile collection from Commercial Type, a personable text face by Paul Barnes, a soft sans by Indian Type Foundry, a modernist script from Kyle Wayne Benson, and a geometric sans by Latinotype.

Klim: Maelstrom

Designed by Kris Sowersby

A “perverse” typeface, to be sure, but that is exactly its charm.

Gunnar Link: Donki

Designed by Gunnar Link

A friendly cursive display typeface.

Type Dynamic: Predige

A condensed and constructed sans type family, with a very low contrast.

Commercial Type: Duplicate

Designed by Miguel Reyes & Christian Schwartz

A versatile collection of typefaces comprised of three families, each in the same six weights with italics.

Commercial Type: Austin Text

Designed by Paul Barnes

A highly personable text face firmly in the English tradition.

Indian Type Foundry: Pilcrow Soft

Designed by Satya Rajpurohit

Simple and utilitarian, similar to forms found on street and highway signs around the world.

Kyle Wayne Benson: Benson Script

Designed by Kyle Wayne Benson

A script that is desperately trying to be anything but a script.

Latinotype: Arquitecta

Designed by Daniel Hernández & Miguel Hernández

A rational geometric with humanist proportions.




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This Week in Fonts

Author: "Sean Mitchell" Tags: "typography, new fonts"
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