This time four years ago, I was scrambling to finish the semester’s final projects in my senior year of college. In other words, highly suggestible to distractions. I was chatting with my mother on the phone, already a distraction, and she mentioned in passing the idea of making advent calendar numbers out of gingerbread. To which I was like, I will drop everything to complete this task IMMEDIATELY.
I’ve done it again every year, always drawing my own brand new set of numbers and executing them in cookie and icing. For the fifth year, I thought I’d tell you all about my
Type A bullshit tips and tricks and secrets for how to do it from start to finish, should you wanna plan to decorate cookies for your roommates or family this year, or have an outing to avoid.
Autumn is serious business around here. During decorative gourd season, signs sit at every intersection directing weekenders and leaf peepers to the best apples, pumpkins and cider donuts in town. Most signs are pretty unremarkable. Except for these.
Hand painted with a distinct lettering style and wacky colors, they’re noticeable and lovely and always brighten my day.
I recently had a revelation. I’ve been staring at reverse-contrast typefaces for the majority of my life, and the fact that it materialized during my year at CooperType was no coincidence.
As a child/preteen, Saturday mornings were spent at my local reform synagogue in addition to one weeknight at Hebrew School (which I begrudgingly attended). At that point in my life, I had no knowledge of design or typography but developed the skills of reading and writing Hebrew in both classic and cursive form. It never occurred to me that the Hebrew characters looked different from other letterforms, the only contrast (pun intended) apparent to me was the fact that Hebrew is read from right to left as opposed to left to right.
Me reading my Haftorah portion during a Bat-Mitzvah rehearsal with my aunt, uncle and cantor looking on.
I launched a project nearly ten years ago now, when I was just beginning to bridge lettering into my graphic design work. It was called Imaginary Alphabets, and I started with an alphabet I called Lucattini. Lucattini’s is a small Italian restaurant in a laneway in Melbourne, Australia, where I lived at the time.
If you are also tired of seeing the ever same fonts and style on the web, and the rich typefaces getting richer, here is a running shortlist of potential body copy typefaces for alphabettes.org I once compiled. I did not test how they look in extended text yet, nor rendering across platforms/browsers. That would be the next step (and we’re also still quite happy with Elido although see that we could use more extensive language support). But maybe you are looking for a fresh, lesser seen typeface and want to check some out anyway. Trying on new clothes is luckily quite easy if you have a website up already, e. g. with tools/bookmarklets that swap out the fonts you currently use, like Webtype’s Font Swapper or FontShop’s Webfonter. Also, most of the typefaces below are available on Fontstand or as trial versions from the foundries, so you can test them locally or in mockups. Let us know if you end up using any at some point.
It seems slab serif typefaces are taking over the market. In 1990, PMN Caecilia proved that it was possible create a slab with a more humanistic approach, a style that could work, not only as a display typeface, but for running text as well. In the last decade the diversity in slab designs has grown. The constructed shapes of the serifs adapt to the pixel grid, and they usually work well on screen. We have many different options for slab text typefaces. Some, like Ernestine, include several scripts, while others, like the recently released Equitan, are a part of large families. The rather squarish appearance of classic Egyptians, coexist today with more rounded lettershapes in new slab designs.
Knile is a newborn within the genre. It is a collaborative project with the Spanish design studio Atipo. The original idea was to create a slab counterpart for the existing typeface family Geomanist. Slab serifs are not just sans with added terminals; they have intrinsic design peculiarities. As far as we wanted the typeface to be functional as a text typeface, many changes were necessary and the design evolved into a typeface family with its own personality.
Printing tests made during the design process
Mr. Sharad Deshpande has been a prolific copywriter for 50 years and an intrinsic part of Setu Advertising, Pune. Mr. Deshpande maintained many diaries documenting his writings and what made them extra special was his beautiful, neat handwriting. It was when he suffered a mild paralysis attack, that he lost the ability to write, a couple years back. It was disheartening for a copywriter who was so proud of his writing, to not be able to continue doing what he loved so much. But his sons decided to gift their father something very unique on his 76th birthday – his handwriting. His son, Rugwed saw great potential in converting his fathers handwriting into a font and approached me with this project proposal. This gesture was extremely overwhelming and it’s been a humbling experience to be a part of this project.
Scan of the handwriting from Mr. Deshpande’s diary.
Graphic designers who still don’t know what OpenType features can do for them—beware! Artist Steff Stefanidad and I, type designer Ulrike Rausch have spent the past few months in the lab, cooking up a very special typeface for the TYPO Berlin 2016 conference identity:
… and a bit about type on the web in general.
It’s long overdue that we introduce you to Elido more. I won’t even need that many specimen images because it’s the typeface you are reading right now. When we were discussing the fonts for the Alphabettes blog, we were after something that looks appropriate for very diverse content that we didn’t have yet — potentially long or maybe short, serious, delightful, angry or funny — and that is comfortable to read and rendering well on the web. All demands that many editorial sites share.
Elido specimen images by Sibylle Hagmann
It’s been an exciting year in type; one that saw many technical innovations, company mergers and restructuring, as well as some delightful new font releases which we will surely encounter in printed matter around the world soon.
But let’s start with the biggest loss for our industry in 1915: Georges Peignot, type founder in Paris and one of our greatest type designers — of Grasset, Auriol, or Cochin to name a few — died in battle, only 43 years old. Curious to see how long the foundry will be able to remain independent without its head :/ Another substantial loss was the death of Wilhelm Woellmer’s CEO Siegmund Borchardt. His son Fritz (34) suceeded him at the Berlin foundry.