I Love Typography

Reviving Caslon

Part 1: the snare of authenticity

How much should a revival of a typeface look like the original? Well, just as with performing an old song—an analogy Matthew Carter has made—there is something you have to like in the original in order want to revive it. And you can’t depart from the original too much, or you lose the charm of the old song that appealed to you in the first place. But if it is too much like the old versions, it might be stale and dated, irrelevant. So what do you keep and what do you change? And change in what way? That’s the challenge every revivalist faces.

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Biome — the making of a typeface

A biome in nature is essentially an ecosystem. It’s also the name for my new typeface family. The 14-weight Biome™ Wide family is now available on fonts.com. Now that the design is complete, I’m able to look back on the process.

The drawings that led to Biome (previously known as Nebulon) were completed in 2006, but I discovered, when I uncovered the drawings recently, that I had been thinking for a long time about various unconnected concepts that eventually worked their way into the same typeface. I was surprised to realize how many different ingredients went into this design. Obviously, other type designs were considerations throughout the process, but things besides typefaces tended to make their way into the stew of ideas that eventually got synthesized into the new typeface. Continue reading this article

An Introduction to OpenType Substitution Features

I have published this article as a page. You can read it here.
Right now I’m unable to get the JavaScript working within a WordPress post. Once fixed, the page will redirect to a proper WordPress post. In the meantime, if you’d like to comment, then you can do so below, through Twitter, or via email at johno@ilovetypography.com

Read An Introduction to OpenType Substitution Features.

Founders Grotesk

The impetus for Founders Grotesk originally came from Duncan Forbes of The International Office. We had often discussed the nature and usefulness of the classic grotesks, and the possibility of creating a new one. After trawling through my 1912 Miller & Richard specimen, he became enamoured with their series of Grotesques, particularly the No.7 all-caps showing.

Grotesque No.7, Miller & Richard, 1912

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Why did I start a type foundry?

Why would anyone in his or her right mind start a type foundry now? Well, to begin with, it’s often said that it’s a good idea to start a business in a recession. However, the type marketplace has gotten very crowded—there are more foundries and distributors of type in all sizes right now than at any previous time. Even the pre-machine setting peak of typefounding in the 19th century had a smaller number of foundries by many orders of magnitude. Notwithstanding all of the small foundries, a handful of large distributors dominate the general market, leaving the rest of us scrambling to find ever-shrinking niches. Why not just climb onboard with one of the big players and leave the business side to people who know what they’re doing? Would that be too easy?

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Creating Grand Gargantua

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The Vignelli Twelve

Though I have the utmost respect for Massimo Vignelli, and am a fan of his work, his we use too many typefaces is just plain wrong. It’s by no means the first time Vignelli has voiced these views. If you have no idea what I’m writing about, then watch this video: Continue reading this article

José Mendoza y Almeida

Dan Reynolds’ review of Bibliothèque Typographique’s
first book, José Mendoza y Almeida

José Mendoza y Almeida

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A few things I’ve learned about typeface design

Teaching on a postgraduate course feels very much like a spiral: the annual repetition of projects, each a vehicle for a journey of education and discovery for the student, blurs into cyclical clouds of shapes, paragraphs, and personalities. There seems to be little opportunity for reflection across student cohorts, and yet it is only this process that improves the process from one year to the next. Having passed the tenth anniversary of the MA Typeface Design programme was as good an opportunity as any to reflect, and ILT’s offer to publish the result an ideal environment to get some ideas out in the open. Although my perspective is unavoidably linked to the course at Reading, I think that the points I make have wider relevance.
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Emigre No. 70, the Look Back Issue

In 1983 Rudy VanderLans, Zuzana Licko, Marc Susan, and Menno Meyjes began Emigre, a magazine about “…the global artist who juggles cultures, travels between them, and who is fluent in the cultural symbols of the world. An émigré.”[1] Early issues meandered through essays, interviews, fiction and poetry. VanderLans directed wild layouts that ignored the so-called rules instilled by modernist design pedagogues. After four issues Susan and Meyjes had left the magazine, allowing VanderLans and Licko to steer Emigre toward being a design magazine that explored experimental and usually computer-driven work like their own.

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The library of the Gutenberg Museum

I. Introduction

Large or small, letters seem to inhabit their own universe. Re-arrangeable in any combination, they can spell out all conceivable messages, be they poetic, bureaucratic, or anything in between. But sometimes a text is just about its letters themselves, not an object to be read, but one to be looked at. Type specimens have taken various forms over the centuries, from posters to postcards and from primers to pamphlets. In fact, this web ‘page’ that you are reading now is also a type specimen, at least of some sort. In our digital age, creating type specimens has become easier than ever before. But what did our predecessors do 100 years ago, or even 500 years ago?
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Designing Armitage

This is the doorway to The Claremount, an apartment building in Manhattan. I think that it was built in the 1890s. Those letters over the door just reached out and grabbed me from across the street and I had a typeface coming on.

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