I Love Typography

Sunday Type: Crap Type

La Twist et le Prix

Ever since my dreadful toilet paper analogy, that innocuous little roll has been haunting me. Here it is again, from SwissMiss:


And on the same theme here is some more type. This one is called Twist:


It’s one of those typefaces that should come with a health warning rather than a license. And you’ll probably never guess who created this typeface. Well, if I tell you this is one of Christian Schwartz’s early efforts, would you believe me? It’s hard to believe that the same guy who was on the team that created FF Meta Serif created the above…what can say? What adjective is worthy of the above typeface? Well, let me quote Christian himself:

this is the worst of my worst. This typeface is god-awful. It was an experiment in building characters in a modular way that didn’t really work out, and I apologize to anyone who actually bought a copy.

I think it’s thoroughly refreshing—even inspiring—that such a distinguished type designer can show the world some of his own type disasters. So if your early efforts at type design look anything like the above, then don’t despair; you could go on to create something truly brilliant like FF Bau, FF Unit, or Neutraface. I wonder if there are any other type designers out there who’d like to share some of their duds?


Interestingly, Christian was something of a child type prodigy, releasing his first typeface, aged…wait for it…14! Also, I’m sure you’ll join with me in congratulating Christian on being awarded the eighth Prix Charles Peignot. A wonderful achievement. Jean François Porchez (former winner of the prize himself, and outgoing president of ATypI), had this to say,

His accomplished work displays incredible diversity and high quality. ATypI is honored to have him amongst its members.

The news item on the ATypI site says, “A booklet commemorating this year’s award has been published by the Association.” Does anyone know how to get hold of this? Can it be purchased?

Search and You Shall Find

Now that iLT is growing (in terms of the number of articles), it’s time to have a search option. That feature should be live next week.


Thousands of you have already downloaded the iLT wallpapers. Lots more new ones have recently been submitted; I’ll post them to the site upon my return home to Japan.


One reader (he shall remain anonymous—for his own safety) submitted an I Love Erik Spiekermann wallpaper set in Arial; the most ironic submission thus far. Anyway, although his wallpaper made me smile, it won’t be available for download.

Sizing Text in CSS

Richard Rutter has written an excellent article on How to Size text in CSS for A List Apart. And if you haven’t read Richard’s The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web, then do.

If you got excited about the release of Meta Serif, you will love The Making of FF Meta Serif on Unzipped. A fascinating insight into the work that goes into making a good typeface.


Alec Julien brought my attention to this book design review blog. Some great covers, and some nice type.


A Tale of Tortured Type

Lauren Marie kindly sent me this link. A wonderful example of what not to do with type. It will take you about 0.2 seconds to spot this little gem. This one is so bad it hurts. Perhaps we need a rogues gallery; perhaps it could be named in honour of this logo—something like Beyond Bad Type. And if you don’t know your points from your picas, then head on over to Lauren’s Using Points and Picas post.

And finally…

I won’t be posting as frequently during the next two weeks; I hope you can be patient. Upon my return home to Japan, we’ll have a type feast. I’m really excited about what’s to come on iLT. We have some big names lined up, and some real quality content to come, from typeface reviews, a series of articles on the language of type, some new faces, biographies, interviews, and lots, lots more. You’re going to be so filled with type goodness, that you’ll need to take a vacation between posts.

I’ve been thoroughly impressed by all your contributions, and even the attitude of the professional typographers and type designers who kindly educate and inspire through their words in the comments. I get as much pleasure from reading the comments as I do from writing for iLT. Thanks, everyone, and have a great week.


  1. Hello,
    The ATypI booklet was a giveaway reserved to attendees of ATypI Brighton. I bet you ‘only’ have to get a membership and ask the secretariat for it :)

  2. Jean-Baptiste
    Thank you. I’ll be writing an article about joining ATypI soon. I wish it were possible to buy membership for next year now.

  3. johno,

    Thanks for such a liberating article. Now I can continue on making my first and undoubtedly crappy font without being weighed down by so much fear of failure (or is that just embarrassment). ;)

  4. I’m totally embarrassed by several of my early fonts, and then just when I think I’m going to delete them from every hard drive I can, someone buys another copy of one of them. I feel like sending them a full refund and an apology, but then I figure it’d be rude to tell them that the font they like really sucks.

    That article on the making of FF Meta Serif is completely cool. Nice to get a glimpse into how the pros go about creating fonts.

  5. Feedburner says 6502. This is what we call blogging with passion!

  6. I really love the Sunday Type articles. You find so many interesting typography-related things around the Web, Johno! That photo from SwissMiss was hilarious. I am completely facinated by Rutter’s Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web. If the book is half as good as these articles/tutorials, I’ll need to put it as number 1 on my wishlist. I can’t express how facinating and exciting this is!! Thank you!

    I think it says something about Christian’s confidence that he can share some of his earlier mishaps in type design with us. It’s encouraging to the rest of us that though we have a bumpy start, we too can achieve greatness someday if we have the passion and determination. Very cool!

    I totally second your sentiments on how wonderful it is to have professional type designers coming here and pouring out their knowledge for us to soak up. Everyone at iLT contributes to the learning, from those who ask questions to those who answer them. I’m always saying this, but it’s still so true, I love coming here! You are a great facilitator of conversations, Johno, and thank you to those who participate in the comments (though I think the Top Commentors feature needs to be reset… it’s getting a little crazy!)

    Ah, and thanks for the plug, Johno. :D You still need to share your thoughts on the pica system!

  7. Another great addition to the Sunday Type series. You gatta love SwissMiss, some of their other stuff they got up on there is pretty damn impressive. I Love Erik Spiekermann wallpaper set in Arial, GENIUS! :) But that would be a funny wallpaper to have up on the site. Having another pinned thread section in the new up and coming iLT forum for posting dud fonts, or just bad ones in general for that matter, would be great. Right under the “bad type design” thread. :) But I’m really glad to hear the iLT community is growing and I look forward to see whats coming up next. Good Stuff!

  8. >I wish it were possible to buy membership for next year now.

    Isn’t it? The ATypI changed its membership scheme earlier this year. Now, instead of memberships running from mid year to mid year, they run from January to December. So every current ATypI member’s membership will expire on December 31.

    This webpage already lists the membership prices for 2008, with a link to join. I’m a member through the end of the year, so I think that my renewal process runs a bit differently. But if you click on that link, can’t you buy your membership for next year already?

    For all of you readers out there, one of the best benefits of ATypI membership is the ATypI mailing lists. Here, members pose very detailed, minute typographic questions to the entire membership (or at least all of those who’ve given their e-mail addresses and/or not unsubscribed from the list). It is so great to get these questions and answers. Everyone who can always gives great answers, people like John Hudson, Jean François Porchez, and Erik Spiekermann included. Sometimes, even Matthew Carter answers questions! I cannot tell you how awesome a feeling it is to fire up your Mail client and see Matthew Carter’s name sitting in your Inbox. That fan-boy thrill alone is worth my membership fee.

    The list does have its low points; sometime there is gossip and in-fighting. But what community doesn’t have a little bit of that!?

  9. Is there anything else about ATypI that makes it indispensible? A hundred bucks seems a little steep for access to an e-mail list. But I’ve been accused of being cynical and jaded…

  10. If you are a member, the registration fee for the annual conference is less. For me, that annual conference is indispensable. But the discount on the conference price tends to be about the same amount as the membership fee itself. I suspect that most ATypI members are people who have been to one of the conferences or another, and feel that it is an organization worthy of their support and membership. But I’m just an ordinary member, and like I said, I go to the conferences.

  11. I think I should send you one of my recent sketches with absolutely horrible kerning. In fact it might be so bad that it becomes quite amusing.
    In the end I posted a scan of it on Typophile to ask whether anyone had seen a font that has the same feel. Sure enough they referred me to Reykjavik (Good tip: Before you start creating your own font, check if someone did not already do the work….;-)

  12. Awesomo!

    Please do post a link if you can get ur hands on the awards.


  13. Finally got the iLT fix. I was having flashbacks…

    Sunday type, or, well I guess Tuesday type for me =P Is always a great read. I might have another good idea for an article about environmental typography. After recently going to Roppongi Hills, I spotted an absolutely horrible type used for the area. I will send you a shot I grabbed with my mobile in a few days John. Best of luck half way around the world.

  14. that SwissMiss site is awesome. You always manage to find so much goodness on the Web, it’s amazing. Thanks for your Sunday Type features, Johno.
    And don’t worry about your less frequent posting schedule. I’m sure everyone will be happy to see you back and will definitely stick around as long as needed ;-)

  15. Paul M
    Some passionate readers too. Thanks.

    It is indeed liberating. I wonder whether Christian has read this post.

    I guess that if there’s still a market for them…

    Thank you. Yes, I must comment on the pica. I haven’t forgotten. A number of people have already sent in some ‘great’ bad examples of type—some very, very funny ones; perhaps I’ll feature them in the next Sunday Type.

    Thanks for the extra information on ATypI membership. It would be interesting to know exactly where the money goes (I’m certainly not suggesting that it used ‘improperly’); but if the money is used to support the spread of good type and type education, then it’s probably worth the membership fee. I’d love for them to come to Japan next year. Anyway, I’ll be joining for this coming year.

    Do you have the link for that Typophile node?

    Hope that you’re recovering from your withdraw symptoms. Did you manage to sort your visa stuff? Love the ‘environmental type’ idea.

    Vivien (inspirationbit)
    Good to see you again. I’m pleased you’re enjoying it.I was just reading your latest LitBits post; great short story isn’t it. I hope to be posting another piece this week; either one of Alec’s or Cody’s articles; and I already have more than enough for the next Sunday Type. And keep your eyes peeled for a collaborative piece entitled “Type for Kids”. I’m also really excited about the typeface reviews to come from Kris Sowersby; I think they’re going to go down really well.

  16. Johno
    Haha, recovering slowly. I won’t know about VISA until they send me a post-card. So for now it’s the waiting game.

    I started my new position on Monday and so far it’s great. The handed me a brand new client and the work has a lot of potential. Totally could turn into an amazing piece if the client is open to printing options. They are very open to proper typography and experimental layout, which is refreshing.

  17. Johno, I can’t speak for the, as I’m just a member. Perhaps Jean-Baptiste or JFP can say more. But the organization does publish financial statements at their annual meetings at the conference each year.

    I’d love to see Japan, too—I tend to travel more for typography conferences than for anything else :( —but I don’t think the ATypI will be there soon. The 2008 conference will be in Russia, and 2009 in Mexico. I hope to make it to Russia; it is much to early for me to think about travel in 2009.

  18. Cody
    Ah, the old postcard. I remember waiting for that; can take an age sometimes. Job sounds great. Looks like you’ve landed a good one. Keep me updated.

    Well, looks like I might be holidaying in St. Petersburg next year. I’d better get saving. I really should make contact with Taro Yamamoto, the Japan country delegate for ATypI. I’d love to do something in Japan to promote type. I’ll mail him.

    I was over at the ATypI site trying to buy membership for next year, but could only see the link for “Membership to 31 December 2007”. Perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps Jean-Baptiste can help.

  19. ATypI history is complex, but most of the people who started to come each year at the conference are very happy with this community and learn a lot. In the past, ATypI was on the hands of the old giants, now, ATypI belong to the members.

    Perhaps, this page will give you a hint about ATypI surviving after already 50 years of history

  20. Jean-Baptiste is refining bold superior numerals right now :)
    Indeed the membership system has changed this year, as mentionned on the website. In order to simplify things, it runs on a full administrative year. As you saw, only membership until Dec 31st is currently available (at a cut-off price). I would, of course, advise to wait until Jan 1st 2008 to renew/buy a full one-year membership (around US$100).
    As for the money (some Typophile threads extensively cover this topic): I’m not an ATypI administrative expert, as far as I know, the fees gathered are mainly used to maintain a yearly secretariat and organize the next annual conference, not much more. It happened that ATypI provided court fees backup to its member in some prosecution cases.
    ATypI has (very very) few sponsors, so publications are also irregularily issued, but those tend nowadays to be (partially, at least) privately funded by its own members acting as sponsors (the mid-sized foundries), not the association itself. The recent “Prix Charles Peignot” booklet is in that case.
    You see, the advantages of joining ATypI are not really in material terms. It mostly grants the right to enter a lively, welcoming community, where one can meet the type design rockstars, access cutting-edge information and find (human-) resources on all kind of subjects. Not mentionning the networking opportunities it provides as a micro-marketplace. I confess & acknowledge that it may sound like it’s not much, but as for any other association, it runs thanks to the volunteering of people willing to give time, and/or money, for no other purposes than making a community lively and visible. Now, if you excuse me, I have to put an extra polish layer on my ATypI Hummer :)

  21. Jean François
    Thank you. I have noticed a change in attitudes toward ATypI. Many used to complain about it being elitist; I don’t hear that claim so often these days. That’s a very interesting link; I’m reading through it now. I agree with the reader who proposes that ATypI publish a journal of some kind. I would certainly be willing to pay for a, say, quarterly journal.

    It would also be good to have more events; for example, I’d love to be involved in organising an event in Japan. I guess finance is one of the biggest barriers. I guess if we can all increase the size of the membership (something I know you are keen to do), then ATypI can do even more. I must say, it’s pretty impressive that ATypI has survived so long in such a ‘fractured’, heterogeneous ‘industry’.

    I think you’ve made a good case. I do still think it’s very frustrating to have to wait until January 1st to buy my membership. Surely there should be an option to allow people to sign up now, rather than wait until Jan 1st. I would love to write a piece promoting ATypI, but what can say? “Please everyone, join ATypI…but you have to wait until January 1st.” And then what happens if someone wants to join in, say, July of next year? I don’t mean to sound difficult, but the easier it is to join, surely the more readily people will actually buy a membership. Using myself as an example, I wish to see some of the information on the site that is only available to members—my only realistic option is to wait until next year. Anyway, despite that, I’ll be joining; and I hope to get to St. Petersburg next year.

    How are your bold superior numerals coming along?
    I’m off to polish my iLT 2CV ;)

  22. Johno: If you are looking for the actual sketch, I will send it to you by email. The typophile node only contains a digitalised (traced) version using illustrator.

  23. John,

    There is always possibilities to organize local events with the ATypI banner. Volunteer achievement is welcome. At the benefit of the type community. Submit your ideas to John D Berry…

  24. wohooo, can’t wait for Type For Kids article, John!! I bought for my daughter various alphabet kits - colourful wooden letters with funny characters (big letters for the wall, small letters with the magnets, and letters stacked on little wooden train wagons). She loves them. That’s how I taught her the alphabet and how to spell her own name. When she was 22 months old she already knew all letters of the alphabet.

    An idea came to my mind just now - wouldn’t it be great to make wooden letter kits for kids (and even adults) that represent different Types? Like say - Helvetica or Sabon type kits for Kids. That would teach them about the shapes, and they will learn better on how different one type is from another… What do you think of it, John? Perhaps you should start something like that? ;-)

  25. Jean François
    Thank you. That sounds an exciting prospect. I’ll mail him upon my return to Japan.

    Yes, the Type For Kids idea came to me after receiving so many emails from readers asking me about tips on teaching type to kids. In fact, I don’t have any children, but I have lots of ideas; I think I’ll borrow some children for some of my experiments. The idea behind the article is really to provoke a little discussion on the topic; then perhaps with input from readers, I can put something more ‘concrete’ together.

    I spoke to a friend who does some casting (in metal) about producing some letters; cost is a little prohibitive. Small wooden letters are a little tricky owing to the fine details; the serifs would probably fall off. However, some of the sturdier sans serif types might work. I also think that some playing-card-size cards might work—with one letter per card—a kind of game like snap, where children must match the letters within a typeface; I need to give this more thought. I’m sure there’s lots that can be done. I’m working on a simple type board game for kids; if ever I get the time to finish it, I’ll send it to you and your daughter for testing :) I guess I shouldn’t say too much more here, or I’ll spoil it.

  26. Borrowing children for experiments… always a good thing. :) Haha… (I hope my twisted sense of humor makes the jump onto the Internet, and everyone doesn’t think I’m some kind of sicko.)

    Also, that Bed Bath & Beyond example?? Wow. I’m guessing you’re referring to that horrid D that looks like it’s being sucked by a vacuum cleaner. I mean, it just … looks… bad. Do their designers not have eyes???

    ANYway. Grand post as always. I love how iLT is growing in leaps and bounds. And I like how much it feels like a community. I definitely stumbled upon the right website to learn more about my newfound love, type!

    Oh, AND, John, I figured out why I couldn’t get the smiley face to work! I hadn’t seen that I could register to be part of iLT, through WordPress, so I hadn’t done that. Now that I have, my smiley face automatically converts to the kind I like. Namely, this one: :) Huzzah. All’s well that ends well, and thanks for your help for such an elementary question.

  27. John, me and my daughter will be glad to test any Type Kits/Games you design for kids :-) Good luck with it and thanks!

  28. Ah, a busy week has kept me from commenting.

    Anyway another great roundup, John! That first typeface is very… interesting (I love the ambiguity in that word…) — but I can surely attest, all designers have to start somewhere, it’s part of the learning process. In fact I think we learn the most from our failures. And believe me, I’ve had a lot of failures :)

    Oh, and I love the screenshot of FF Meta Serif in different variants. I see a wallpaper idea coming.

    Enjoy the next few weeks away, I won’t go anywhere, hehe.

  29. Leah
    I thought you might appreciate that. I haven’t forgotten about the points you raised in the comments to the Old Style article.

    Thank you; and thanks for the ideas.

    Hope that it was a good and busy week for you.
    Your wallpapers are being downloaded like crazy—approx’ 2000 in the last week. Love the new Helvetica wallpaper. Thank you.

  30. This article is great for a beginner like me who is thinking about creating his own font. Thank you!

  31. Leah
    I thought you might appreciate that. I haven’t forgotten about the points you raised in the comments to the Old Style article.


  32. Johno, I can’t speak for the, as I’m just a member. Perhaps Jean-Baptiste or JFP can say more. But the organization does publish financial statements at their annual meetings at the conference each year.

    I’d love to see Japan, too—I tend to travel more for typography conferences than for anything else :( —but I don’t think the ATypI will be there soon. The 2008 conference will be in Russia, and 2009 in Mexico. I hope to make it to Russia; it is much to early for me to think about travel in 2009.

  33. You should get the award.

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