I Love Typography

Face to Face

An interview with Jean François Porchez

You’ll see his typefaces on the Paris Métro, gracing the pages of France’s premier newspaper, Le Monde, in magazines and books; even Beyoncé uses them. He was awarded the Prix Charles Peignot for excellence in type design, was president of ATypI, designed one of the best modern-day type revivals, and…. Well, there’s so much more that can be said by way of introducing this great talent of type, but I think John D. Berry sums him up best when he writes, he is one hell of a type designer.

Why and how did you get started in type design?

It was during my time at graphic design school (1987-89). At the time, I felt that there was an opportunity to do something different in a field that was already full of illustrators, graphic designers and so on. And remember that this decision was made before the ‘computer age’, making it all the more unusual.

Frutiger and Zapf, my two heroes at that time, helped me to understand what type design is. In my second year at graphic design school, I started my first real type design, mostly lettering, and soon started to do freelance work while still at design school. During my third year, I began work on Angie which later won the Morisawa Award in Japan.

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I learned to draw typefaces by hand on tracing paper (1988), then moved on to digitization with Ikarus (1992), making minor modifications on screen. Next, I began to use Bézier Curves in illustrator and Fontographer; and shortly after, circa 1994, I began to design directly on screen without any prior drawings on paper.

What do you like most about type design?
Which part of the design process do you enjoy the most?

I have great difficulty designing fonts without a function, a brief. I can’t create new forms, simply for the pleasure of those forms. In fact, it’s more the reverse: the function or brief inspires me to search for new forms, Indeed, there are exceptions, and that’s no doubt why I make so few rough drafts. What I mean is that, generally speaking, the concept comes to me upon lengthy reflection in my head, rather than from a couple of hastily drawn sketches on paper. For example (and remember that I learned type design from calligraphy and drawing on paper), I wanted to experiment with a new way of designing typefaces: so with Anisette (1996) I started from a central line to an outline.

Anisette

The difference between the Thin and Black weights is considerable; the interpolation/blend doesn’t work well in all cases. Anisette is a good example of discovering the limits of a technology, to better understand how to work; to be able to apply what you learn when you again reach the limits of technology, and adapt your designs accordingly.

Moreover, I always imagined one day that the lowercase would be added to the original double caps width Ansiette, but without doing any research. The morning after the completion of Ambroise, in May/June 2001, I started to create some forms directly on screen. Less than a month later, the family appeared ready for sale on the web site. It takes a long time to develop the idea intellectually. The design process is only a small part of the finished product. Type design, then, is an intellectual rather than a manual job; and the tools have no direct influence on the forms; it’s more about what your own brain, culture and influences and reading brings to it that really makes the difference.

angie ff specimen

Sometimes there is some personal inspiration, but most often it is more a question of problem solving than simply inspiration. Typefaces have a strong function: to be read. And more and more their connotations (the typefaces) help designers to create efficient, communicable documents for such varied applications as corporate identity, newspapers and magazines. Typefaces are major players in these ‘games’.

ambroise

Whether I create my own brief, or it’s supplied by the client, it’s by following it that I can create new things; the more restrictions I have, the more creative I will be. The revivals, in some respects, are an exception, but nevertheless it is still a matter of problem solving, albeit with some historical considerations.

What do you like least about type design?

Probably kerning despite its importance for the finished product. It doesn’t take so long, but it is really boring and repetitive. It’s sad that the true design, the drawing of the letterforms takes perhaps 20%(?) of the total time in typeface design.

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And it’s probably the best part, especially during the early days of a project, when the forms begin to appear on screen.

Which work of other type designers do you like?

For dead guys, for a long time, Claude Garamond and his ‘friends’. Of contemporary type designers, I admire several of them for various reasons. Matthew Carter comes to mind first because for years he came through most of the new technologies with great talent. He is a model in the sense that he demonstrated very well what a type designer should be—resolving new type problems without losing type’s roots. Long ago Hermann Zapf wrote that new technology demands new typefaces. Matthew Carter showed us that, with the help of the type designer, old typefaces can survive any new technology. It’s admirable to be able to design Galliard, Verdana or Walker as good examples of different animals; the first as a skilful revival from Granjon type; Verdana as an incredibly legible type for use on screen; and fun to use Walker, with its snap-on serifs. We should also recall that Matthew Carter, like Sumner Stone and several others were the guys who launched independent type foundries, doing freelance custom fonts for clients (early 1990-93).

More recently, there are many young competitors creating formidable types: Xavier Dupré’s recent designs are amazing; he demonstrates great freedom without abandoning sound references. Christian Schwartz’s new designs are fascinating by their ability to adapt to many different situations. I’m glad to see other serious type designers from all over the world; for example, the recent boom in non-Latin typeface design from the Hague and Reading, type designers from Latin America, together with the Khatt network and the Typographic Matchmaking project.

Of your own types, which are you most pleased with?

With no real surprise, the last big project. I will say, that I’m not particularly proud of anything. Different aspects of projects help me to discover new things; they help me to think more about a particular aspect of typeface design. There are many past projects that pushed me to change my habits without losing my original focus. Designing typefaces for clients is very interesting because it furnishes one with the opportunity to do something that one might otherwise not have attempted.

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For example, Henderson Sans, created in 2006. I had never envisaged designing a Transitional Sanserif until I was asked to do a Sans version from a sort of Baskerville interpretation—Henderson Serif. Before there was Humanistic Sans versus Grotesque Sans competition. It’s easy enough to imagine a Sans built on handwritten forms using historical roots, strange forms like those found in Renaissance type, more or less standardized depending on the aims of the designer; the forms and details used in Humanist serif typefaces, extrapolated to a Sanserif version, in order to bring a very particular colour to the Humanist Sans. It’s also easy to compare the various Grotesque Sans like Univers and Helvetica, and fun to mock Arial as a bad cover version of Helvetica, etc. However, what’s not so clear is what is a Sanserif that is not built and controlled like Grotesques, built as a system, but something already more controlled like Romain du Roi or Baskerville…compared to Caslon or Garamond. With Baskerville and Romain du Roi this sort of system begins to emerge, though traces of the humanist type are still visible. By the time we move on to Didot, that influence has all but disappeared, and when we think of Sanserif versions then we are into the Grotesques.In fact, there are already a few Sans from this category beginning to emerge, like the recent and very good National by Kris Sowersby, mentioned on iLT last December.

What advice would you give to aspiring type designers?

Practise calligraphy and read a lot on type history. Then draw and draw every day. Don’t copy others, but try to be yourself; use your own cultural resources and background to create new trends in type design. You are unique. When the above is achieved, the next steps are (and these are equally applicable to life in general):

• Respect tradition;
• Clear analysis of the problem, because as designers our work is problem solving;
• Finally, utmost respect for the user/reader.

What is your proudest achievement?

Sabon Next created in 2002 for Linotype is a revival of Sabon, which in turn is a revival of Garamond, created by Jan Tschichold in the 60s. It was a fascinating challenge to try to understand the effects that technological limitations imposed on the design; and to attempt to disentangle this from the actual design decisions of the master himself, Jan Tschichold. It was a challenge too because of Sabon’s Garamond roots, a style that many of us consider the golden age of type design. I started from the original drawings for the Stempel version and extended the family to six weights, their accompanying italics, small caps, old style figures, alternates and so on.

sabon next specimen

In early 2006, I then extended the initial family of 2002 into an OpenType version, with various additional features. This new version was finally published by Linotype last December! (2007). In 2002, under my direction, an extensive type specimen was produced in three languages, accompanied by a study of Jan Tschihold written specially for us by Christopher Burke, the author of the very good Paul Renner (designer of Futura) book. In fact, during this project, I tried to reclaim what the big foundries, like Linotype, lost during the seventies and eighties—something that small foundries do every day now: publish good specimens with comprehensive content, not simply a few commercial visuals.

Constructing a story around a typeface is important to me, and that’s why I loved what happened before the 2nd World War, with publications like the Fleuron in the UK, Arts et métiers graphiques in France, or the amazing specimens from ATF in the US. How can one appreciate a typeface without knowing something about it?

What plans do you have for the future? Are you working on a new typeface?

To stop typeface design and finally start my own cider farm in Normandy.

More seriously, I dream of one day being as I was in my early days, without too much work to do and thus with plenty of time on my hands for personal ideas and projects. It can be a little frustrating sometimes, though it’s not a major issue, as commissioned work is fantastic—because like any designer, I like to solve design problems. From time to time I work on a still unfinished Sanserif I began in 1999. I’m also trying to finish another Sanserif for Linotype—started in 2003. Right now we’re working on some OpenType conversions of existing typefaces, like Le Monde, together with a very recent project commissioned by a design agency. So, yes, as usual, I’m working on a new typeface.

You can learn more about Jean François Porchez at Porchez Typofonderie.
Further Reading: Dot-font: Talking About Fonts. John D. Berry. 2006.

Sunday Type: Frodo Type

Birthday Cupcakes

This week iLT is six months old. She’s doing quite well thanks to all of you: one million page views, almost 3,000 comments, and about 70 posts—though it feels like more. So if you have a spare minute, then pop a party popper, throw a streamer, crack open a bottle of Champagne, light a candle—that sort of thing.

Anyway, this is Sunday, so it’s time for Sunday Type. Let’s start with a type: Estilo Text from Dino dos Santos. I mention it for two reasons: one because it’s an expanded version of Estilo Script and Estilo and secondly because it’s on sale:

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You may have already seen it; it’s not new, but I was trying to find it the other day, when coincidentally Romain sent me the link:

YouTube Preview Image

FontBook in a Movie

I received quite an impressive response to last week’s FontBook in a movie competition, inspired by Hamish’s Mel Gibson piece. This one is from Christian:

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Apologies that I can’t mention them all, but here is a selection (click any of the images for an enlarged version). I was going to put little star rating gizmos below each entry, but gave up when I realised it would take me hours to do this within WordPress. So, by all means comment about the entries, and I’ll add my own opinion, and announce a winner next week some time.

The 10 Commandments The Godfather Lord of the Rings
(a) Mischa (b) Vlad (c) Christian
Casablanca FontBook of Oz Braveheart
(d) Alec (e) Gemma (f) Hamish
2001 2001 Lector
(g) Ian (h) Arild (i) George

And here’s another from RogueJunkie. Not surprisingly I received several sexually explicit ones; one was particularly ingenious, but not quite publishable. Thanks to everyone for their entries. It was great fun, and brightened up an otherwise busy and unusually stressful couple of weeks (cue sad violin music).

Well, we’ve had chocolate type and potato type, and now we have cupcake type from Gemma over at For the Love of Type:

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Can you name the typeface?

Type Friday / Type Neu

Eric sent me a mail about this new Flickr Group, Typography Friday:

type friday

Type Neu is a relatively new type site with daily posts. I wonder if iLT will make it into their ‘relevant links’ section? ;)

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The above poster was featured on TypeNeu and is part of Dante Carlos’ Letter By Circle project. I like it.

Miscellaneous links

An interesting discussion on whether there’s a need for scientific tests for readability/legibility on Typophile.

Erik Spiekermann speaking at the University of Ulster for the FiFFteen exhibition.

Coming up

Next is the interview with Jean François Porchez. My fault that it’s been delayed, not Jean François’. We also have some more articles from Kris Sowersby, and a review of Gerard Unger’s While You’re Reading, one of my favourite books of 2007, and of course lots, lots more, including articles from new contributors!

A big thank you to iLT’s new translators to join the growing team. The latest members are Vitor Mazzeo for Portuguese and Uta for Chinese. More languages to come soon. If you write and translate well, and you’d like to help out, then send me a mail.

And finally

Does anyone know when the new edition of Counterpunch is due? Oh, and it’s Valentine’s day soon (I’ve forgotten which date exactly), so there are Valentine’s Font packs appearing everywhere. Utter nonsense in my opnion. If you want something romantic, then just go for an elegant script; and they don’t come much better than this:

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However, if your girlfriend leaves you because you bought her a font rather than a 127-carat diamond engagement ring, don’t blame me.

Have a great Sunday!

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FontBook

Recentemente recebi através do correio algo grande, amarelo e pesando 3 kg. Não, não é uma banana geneticamente modificada, mas o FontBook do FontShop, a enciclopédia do tipo. Este livro realmente deveria vir com uma advertência de saúde: o meu carteiro quase teve uma hérnia entregando-o e muito perto de torcer seu pulso tentando segurá-lo com uma mão enquanto passava-me o recibo com a outra. No entanto, com algumas 32.000 amostras de tipos, 1.760 páginas e 100.000 notas e referências cruzadas, não creio que o FontShop publicará uma versão pocket tão cedo.

Levei oFontBook tao meu café local, onde muitas vezes trabalho à noite e completos estranhos aproximaram-se (incomum no Japão); várias pessoas disseram “ookii isto desu ne!” (grande livro, hein!), enquanto outros simplesmente perguntavam-me do que se tratava o livro.

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Além da marcante capa amarela do FontShop, o conteúdo é prefaciado por uma seção ‘como usar este livro’ em Inglês e Alemão; contudo, para ser franco, você poderia ser um marciano e/ou apenas falar Zangalulob e ainda encontrar o seu caminho pelo livro sem problemas. Os tipos são organizados em oito grupos principais: Sans, Serif, Slab, Script, Display, Blackletter, Symbols, e Non-Latin.

Referências cruzadas

Minha característica favorita do livro - e isso deve ter levado anos para preparar - são as amplas referências cruzadas. Por exemplo, eu estou procurando por algo semelhante a um de meus favoritos tipos, Swift (a) de Gerard Unger. Posso ir para a seção Serif - onde todos os tipos estão organizados por ordem alfabética,… p, q, r, s,… Swift! A referência cruzada na margem interior exibe um olho-ícone (denotando tipos similares); e listados estão ITC Charter (b), Demos, Hollander e Bitsream Oranda. Um recurso muito simples e muito poderoso.

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De fato eu gostaria de ver este adicional desenvolvido, de modo que, por exemplo, eu estou procurando um bom sans serif para a Swift e há uma referência cruzada que aponta uma à mim. Também gostaria de ver um índice de nomes. De qualquer forma, são as referências cruzadas que fazem isso para mim, tornando o FontBook uma valiosa ferramenta para quem utiliza o tipo. Não deveria haver estúdio sem ele na sua biblioteca.

Depois de passar mais ou menos uma hora folheando através das suas páginas, o glutão que explode de Monty Python, Senhor Creosote veio à mente. Depois de consumir cerca de 20 cursos, quatro garrafas de vinho tinto e seis caixas de cerveja, o Maître D, encenado por John Cleese, recomenda “E, finalmente, monsieur, uma fina bolacha de hortelã.” Tipo glutões entre vocês simplesmente não conseguirão resistir apenas a mais uma fina bolacha de página.

Em termos absolutos, $ 99 não é barato, mas isso não é novela de brochura descartável; é uma enciclopédia de 3kg com 1.760 páginas. Em termos relativos o FontBook é mais barato do que 20 refeições do McDonald’s.

Porquê?

Os cínicos entre nós (e eu posso ser um também), podem argumentar que o FontBook é um instrumento de marketing destinado a vender mais fontes. Ele pode muito bem vender mais fontes - o FontShop não é um Samaritano. No entanto, quando se considera o tempo que foi canalizado para a elaboração este livro e os custos de produção, duvido que o FontBook seja o preço da vaca. Sugiro que ele seja apenas o produto de uma paixão pelo tipo, publicada não tanto com ganhos pecuniários em mente, mas simplesmente porque seus autores amam o tipo.

O FontBook é para o tipo aquilo que a casa de chocolate é para os chocólatras.

Provavelmente vale a pena roubar um banco por este livro (sem violência, claro). No entanto, se você for capturado e, independentemente do que você faça, não mencione este artigo e reze para que Erik Spiekermann esteja no júri. Se você não ouvir falar de mim por um tempo, então é porque Mafia Maurice e Billy the Bruiser não deixaram-me usar a ‘Internet’ na Cela do Bloco H - até que eu execute favores de uma natureza inteiramente não relacionada com o tipo. Acho que só então eu vou apreciar o fato de que o FontBook pese 3 kg. Enfim, vamos esperar que eu seja encarregado da biblioteca da prisão.

Chegando…

Tipografia de prisão.

E há um prêmio se você puder dizer-me quais os três tipos que eu usei no cabeçalho “i” (1) “love” (2) “typography” (3). Uma correcta entrada será selecionada aleatoriamente e anunciada nesta semana no Sunday Type. O vencedor receberá uma cópia dotypography today de Helmut Schmid.

Leitura futura:
One Book to Specify Them All. Khoi Vinh of Subtraction entrevista Stephen Coles do FontShop.
FontBook on FontShop, com amostras de páginas em PDF.
FontBook—o filme.

Porque Bembo Cansa

By Kris Sowersby

Num recente painel de discussão sobre o design do livro na Nova Zelândia, eu critiquei o excesso de Bembo em muitos livros na Nova Zelândia. Como muitas perguntas foram feitas mais do que poderiam ser respondidas, eu escrevi este artigo para explicar. Permitam-me começar com uma breve história.

Antes da tipologia digital e da impressão offset, havia o letterpress. A tipologia era composta de fontes, uma fonte para cada tamanho. Estes tamanhos específicos de fontes consistiam de letras individuais feitas de liga metálica. Letras separadas eram colocados à mão para criar palavras, palavras eram alinhadas em frases, frases foram amontoadas para fazer parágrafos e estes eram tingidos e prensados em papel. Como um processo de impressão, é bastante básico. As xilogravuras e os carimbos usam um método semelhante.

Bembo

Contudo, cortar um ‘g’ minúsculo de 7 pontos é muito mais adequado do que a criação de um carimbo com cara de riso! Os velhos mestres do desenho tipográfico gastaram décadas aperfeiçoando o seu ofício. Cada fonte de tipo foi projetada para funcionar num tamanho específico. Por exemplo, quando Bodoni precisou de uma fonte de tamanho de texto, ele cortou uma fonte em 9 pontos. Quando ele precisou de um tamanho maior para os títulos, ele cortou outra fonte em 36 pontos. A de 9 pontos funcionou maravilhosamente para o texto e a de 36 pontos funcionou para o título.

Se alguém ampliasse a impressão impressa de 9 pontos para o mesmo tamanho que os 36, as diferenças seriam imediatamente visíveis. A de 9 pontos tem detalhes mais robustos: as serifas são mais grossas, o contraste é mais baixo e o espaçamento é mais generoso. A de 36 pontos tem linhas muito mais perfeitas e o espaçamento é mais justo. Isto é uma consideração técnica assim como estética: a de 9 pontos tem de ser mais robusta para resistir ao processo de impressão.
Se os detalhes forem demasiadamente perfeitos o metal desgastará rapidamente ou as serifas vão se quebrar quando pressionada sobre o papel.

Esta prática assume novo sentido quando consideramos que nunca pode haver um definitivo Bodoni, Garamond, Jenson, ou a tipografia de Fleischmann, enquanto os seus oeuvres se compõem de uma multidão de fontes únicas, de tamanho específico. Parece-se como esmagar Otelo, Rei Lear, Hamlet e um pouco da Tempestade e publicá-lo como ‘O Shakespeare’.

Por que isto é relevante? Bem, na pressa de se adaptar à tecnologia tipográfica digital, as fundições de tipo digitalizaram clássicos caracteres tipográficos. A natureza das fontes digitais é usar um traçado e escala como desejados. Os caracteres tipográficos passaram a ser cortados em uma grande variedade de tamanhos a um traçado único. Um caractere tipográfico digital pode ser otimizado para alguns tamanhos, mas dificilmente para todos. O Bembo, por exemplo, é uma cópia digital de uma interpretação metálica de um corte de caracter tipográfico original de 1495 - uma cópia da cópia. Deste modo, o processo de digitalização coloca um problema: que tamanho de ponto deve ser digitalizado?

Este dilema, aparentemente supérfluo, só pode ser realmente entendido quando os caracteres tipográficos metálicos originais são vistos na impressão. Ah, que visão alegre! A variação sutil da forma da letra, a leve impressão no papel, o calor vibrante de uma página de texto. Não é só belo, mas um prazer absoluto de ler. O efeito desses caracteres tipográficos é impossível de emular com os seus fantasmas digitais insípidos. A impressão moderna ficou tão perfeita, tão uniforme e exata que o espírito do original é esmagado. É como passar uma vida bebendo ruidosamente café e nunca experimentando um café espresso.

Assim como as línguas mudam, o mesmo ocorre com os caracteres tipográficos. Essas mudanças não são radicais; eles são evoluções sutis que abordam a cultura e a tecnologia. A tipografia moderna exige caracteres tipográficos modernos, projetados por gente do nosso tempo para gente do nosso tempo. Há considerações culturais também. É apropriado definir a poesia Pasifika contemporânea em uma tipologia projetada por um namorador italiano do século 17? Que tal utilizar uma asneira do século 18 para a polêmica política do século 21 da Nova Zelândia?

São os ideais do desenhista tipográfico compatíveis com aqueles do escritor? Seria pedante, naturalmente, combinar cada nuança da escrita ao tom da tipologia. Contudo, é bom quando um pouco de esforço é feito na seleção da tipologia. A leitura de livros da Nova Zelândia seria muito menos enfadonha se a tipografia interna fosse muita mais considerada. Apenas imagine se o mesmo montante de esforço entrou na escolha da tipologia como para escolher a cor da capa!

Aderir aos cadáveres ‘clássicos’ digitais é inútil, antiquado e anacrônico - só levará a tipografia enfadonha na pior das hipóteses e caminhando na melhor das hipóteses. Enfim, o ponto deve respeitar o leitor. Ele gasta muito tempo lendo, portanto, é correto fazer aquela experiência tão cômoda e apropriado quanto possível.

Kris Sowersby é desenhista de tipos profissional da Nova Zelândia. Você pode ver sua própria tipologia no Village.

TIPOLOGIA

Muitos de vocês já ouviu falar de Kris Sowersby e algo me diz que vamos ouvir muito mais sobre ele. Ele é o cara atrás das sans serif tipográfica National e das serifas tipográficas Feijoa; ele esteve também na equipe de três que criou (possivelmente o tipo do ano?) o FF Meta Serif.

Como você começou a desenhar o tipo?

Houve um ponto na escola de desenho quando percebi que eu gostava de desenhar letterforms, tanto que eu preferia fazer caracteres tipográficos do que ser um desenhista gráfico. Acho que foi quando estava desenhando/copiando Bembo  letra por letra, tentando entender como foi juntado. Notei que o arco do ‘n’ sutilmente se curva para a direita durante todo o trajeto na serifa.

bembo.gif

Por alguma razão aquilo chocou-me, foi bastante surpreendente. É um detalhe que pareceria bastante inócuo, mas ainda empresta tanto calor e caráter à impressão impressa total. Ainda tenho aquele esboço, ao lado dele escrevi “Bembo enxadrezado!”.

Por que Desenho de Tipo (ao contrário de, digamos, luta livre com urso no circo)?
Porque eu adoro! Qual outra razão pela qual eu passaria inúmeras horas fazendo isso?

Because I love it! Why else would I spend countless hours doing it?

The Love of Type

Qual é a sua parte favorita no processo de desenho?

Tenho duas partes que são as minhas favoritas, se me é permitido dizer. O primeiro é o início esboçar & desenhar, compreendendo o como & o por que da face. Esta é a parte mais criativa, atraente do processo. A segunda parte é o acabamento tipográfico, pegando na prateleira ou entregue ao cliente. Isto é bom por duas razões: o trabalho é completo & posso ser pago.

Qual é a sua irritação relacionada ao tipo mais grande? (de Lauren)

Tenho várias. (Por favor tenha em mente que esses não me deixam aceso à noite. Tenho outras ‘irritações’ que são não-tipográficas & muito mais importantes.) Um seriam os comentários infinitos, mal informados que algumas pessoas fazem na Internet. A Internet parece tirar o pior da gente! Um certo software de desenho do tipo é carrinho de bebê & a frustrante, é um estorvo ao trabalho.

Os desenhistas gráficos que talham caracteres tipográficos existentes em nome ‘da inovação’ ou ‘fazer algo diferente/legal’ me faz girar os olhos, quero com isso dizer acrescentar uma serifa, cortar uma serifa, arredondar um terminal, acrescentar um feio swash etc., etc. O pior é ver realmente bons caracteres tipográficoa serem mal usadosl. Isto é sempre decepcionante.

Qual a única coisa que você gostaria que todo desenhista soubesse sobre o tipo? (de Roger Gordon)

Como utilizar corretamente o tipo. Não necessariamente penso aderir à censura da Nova Tipografia ou o Cálice Cristalino ou o Novo Brutalismo ou algo assim. O que realmente quero dizer é:

1) A maioria dos caracteres tipográficos têm ambientes nos quais eles realmente brilham, certos usos que nunca falham.
2) Outros têm ambientes nos quais eles sempre falham, geralmente em lugares onde nunca os conceberam para funcionar.
3) Selecionar alguns trabalhos maravilhosamente nas situações mais absurdas.

Um competente tipógrafo/desenhista sabe a diferença entre 1) & 2). Honestamente isto não é muito difícil de fazer. Um tipógrafo/desenhista realmente excelente sabe como usar 3). Este é alguém que pode fazer uma tipologia virar uma estrela. É muito mais difícil fazer - mas, Cristo, você sabe quando você a vê!

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De qual época do tipo que mais inspirou  você? … parece muito anos 70. De? Se devesse escolher uma época específica, qual? (de Cody Curley)

Os anos 70? Você está brincando? Há muitos séculos do desenho tipográfico; não creio que eu alguma vez tenha sido diretamente influenciado pelos anos 70. Ultimamente fui exposto a alguns livros de espécimes dos séculos 18/19 - os caracteres tipográficos realmente me arrastaram. Adoro olhar trabalho antigo, tentando entender o que veio antes & por que; como o trabalho de uma pessoa influencia outra. Eu acho o tipo histórico/obscuro muito mais interessante, por isso influente, do que a maior parte do trabalho que está acontecendo agora.

De onde você é influência o seu tipo? (de George Coltart [ele diz que foi à escola com você.])

Kia ora George! (Foi há muito tempo, companheiro.) Sendo de NZ realmente influi no meu tipo, mas receio que eu não saiba exatamente como. Talvez eu devesse viajar um pouco mais para ter alguma perspectiva, viver em outro país & trabalhar lá, como você. Realmente não há uma cultura grande de desenho tipográfico na Nova Zelândia, o que pode explicar alguma coisa. Isto significa que sou efetivamente auto-didata, portanto não assino em nenhum determinado estilo ou modo de pensar, a distância permite-me ser muito mais seletivo na minha abordagem. Posso olhar para, digamos, o tipo metálico Espanhol de 1700 e permanecer bastante objetivo sobre ele. Receio que isto não responda à sua pergunta, desculpe.

FF Meta Serif

Feijoa in four weights (illustration: display)

Você tem Feijoa, Nacional e FF Meta Serif sob seu cinto; o que vem agora?

Agora mesmo, tenho vários caracteres tipográficos em andamento. Em nenhuma ordem determinada, FF Unit Slab (uma placa serifa companheira da FF Unit), Newzald (uma econômica serifa texto), a Valência (um Modern quente), Karbon (uma sans serif aparada), National Condensed & Compressed (adições familiais a National) e Aperture (uma sans para tamanhos pequenos). Há também algumas outras coisas excitantes em que espero estar implicado, mas você terá de esperar por isto.

footnote.gif
[Kris Sowersby é um desenhista de tipo profissional da Nova Zelândia. Você pode visualisar o seu web site aqui, e compre seus caracteres tipográficos aqui.]

Muito mais entrevistas estão por vir emTipologia. Não perca!

Translated by Vitor Mazzeo.

Archer the Elegant Slab Serif

fly me to the moon

It feels as though Jonathan Hoefler has been designing type for about 100 years—a tall order for a man in his thirties. While still in his teens, he established the Hoefler Type Foundry (now known as Hoefler & Frere-Jones, since teaming up with Tobias Frere-Jones, formerly of the Font Bureau). In 2002 he was honored with type’s top prize, ATypI’s Prix Charles Peignot.

If you own a Mac, then you already have a Hoefler font—Hoefler Text a serif face, commissioned by Apple back in 1991. If you’ve never even noticed it before, then do take a look: the family comprises some 27 fonts; it includes old-style figures, small caps, ligatures and even alternative versions of punctuation for use with caps and and small caps.*

But we’re not here to talk about Hoefler Text or H&FJ Didot or Verlag or Requiem, or even Gotham. If you look up at the night sky toward the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, you’ll spot H&FJ’s new typeface Archer, a rather lovely Slab Serif initially commissioned for Martha Stewart Homes.

Archer

I’m particularly taken with the ball terminals on the s (used throughout the lowercase). See the outlines below (hairline and bold). There’s definitely something Swanlike in its form. Interestingly (well, I thought it was interesting), the constellation Sagittarius contains several nebulae, one of which, the Omega Nebula, is commonly know as the Swan or Horseshoe. (one of those interesting facts you can raise when next at the pub).

archer S hairline and bold

H&FJ faces are never short on weights, and Archer is no exception, available in eight weights with accompanying italics, old style figures, small caps, lining figures…you name it, it’s in there. I’ve always found the slab serif to be a little sterile, characterless even. Archer though is a more noble, elegant slab serif. If Courier is Jane Doe, then Archer is Isabella Rossellini or Audrey Hepburn.

audrey-archer.jpg

Sweet but not saccharine, earnest but not grave, Archer is designed to hit just the right notes of forthrightness, credibility, and charm.

I could happily write several more pages on what I like about Archer, but I suggest you take a look at H&FJ’s Archer page. So what do you think of Archer?

Coming up…

A very exciting exclusive on another new typeface and the interview with Jean François Porchez. But before that, I’ll see you all on Sunday for another edition of Sunday Type.

If you haven’t already subscribed to iLT, then a couple of clicks will ensure you never miss another issue.


*Dot-font: Talking About Fonts—John D. Berry. 2006, page 59.
More about the heroic type duo that is H&FJ can be found here.

セリフを撃ったのは誰?

がiLTを始めた理由のひとつは、話題としてあまり語られていないと感じたからなんだ。次にもっと重要なことだけど、タイポグラフィーのことを調べようと思っても、資料があまりなくてすぐ見つけるのが難しいといつも思っていたんだ。このブログの長期的な目的としては、タイポグラフィーのすべてが揃うワンストップショップになること。専門用語から新しいタイプフェイス、そしてひらめきのヒントになる様な書体例から、仕事に最適な字体選択まで提供できるんだ。WEBで使うものでもそうでないものもね。

john_wayne.jpg

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Sunday Type: Mel Gibson Type

The Serifless Roman

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Type. I hope that everyone had a good week. It’s been an especially busy week, with more than the usual number of emails through iLT. Kris Sowersby’s Why Bembo Sucks article was incredibly popular. There are some more great articles to come from Kris.

Let’s get started with a great new type from Carl Crossgrove. It’s a ‘modulated sans serif’ by the name of Beorcana (pronounced: byor-KON-ah):

the lovely Beorcana

For more information and a PDF sample, see Carl’s Beorcana web site. You can find out more about Carl and his typefaces on Terrestrial Design. Here’s one of my personal favourites, Origami:

origami.png

Difficult to classify in conventional schemes, Beorcana could be described as a serifless roman, as it retains the proportions and contrast of Renaissance Roman typefaces. It could also be described as a modulated or calligraphic sans, as it has no proper serifs, just swellings and taperings. In that sense it is a hybrid…

iPhone wallpapers

Last week I mentioned some of the new Veer iPhone wallpapers. I’ve created some of my own. Ferl free to download them. And of course, you can submit your own.

iphone-wall.png

Where art meets type

Everything You Thought We’d Forgotten is a series of text-based interactive works. Some very novel and interesting ideas:

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks to Robert for the link.

TypeNuts

Some time ago I wrote that I’m developing a type-related news web site. It’s nearing completion; mostly just the details of the design to iron out.

typenuts-thumb.png

There are myriad type-related news items out there, and not space enough to mention them all here, as iLT is geared toward longer articles—so typenuts.com was born. You’ll be able to submit and vote for news items; I’m hoping that it will become a great resource and archive of type-related news. So long as the news is related to type, it will be in there, so new font releases, etc will be there too and you’ll be able to subscribe to all or to specific channels of your choice. I’ll let you all know when I launch.

Free Font

Recently I mentioned Stefan Hattenbach’s beautiful Anziano. I especially like the small caps, and you can now download them for free. But be warned: use them and you’ll fall in love with them.

Anziano SmallCaps

If you decide to buy it, there are numerous wonderfully drawn ornaments included. Here is a small taster:

anziano-ornaments.gif

And on a lighter note…

In the comments to my FontBook review, I paraphrased Mel Gibson’s words in BraveHeart. Hamish, kindly watched the entire movie again and took this screen grab:

myfontbook.png

In fact, I was so thoroughly impressed by Hamish’s work, that I thought I’d make a competition out of it. Here’s what you have to do:

Preferably choose a movie that most are familiar with (though it’s not obligatory), and find a role for FontBook. I can either choose a winner, or you can vote on them; your decision. I’m trying to work one into Casablanca. The winner will receive a copy of Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style. Just mail your entries to jboardley{at}gmail{dot}com, mentioning FontBook in the subject line.

Miscellaneous links

1. A PDF article on .net magazine: Better Web Typography.

2. Smashing Magazine’s incredible January Roundup with several type-related entries. I especially like the Better Ordered Lists item.

3. Some time ago, Emigre promised that as their stock of back issues sold out, they’d re-publish some of the content on their web site. I like this one: The Art of Type Founding.

Competition results

During my review of FontBook I asked if you could identify the three types I used in the header. 86 correct entries went into the hat and out came Miha, a design student from Slovenia. Miha wins a copy of Helmut Schmid’s Typography Today.

The winning answers: FF Meta Serif black italic; Officina bold, and Scala Sans regular. Thanks to everyone for their submissions. Interestingly no-one chose the correct weight for FF Meta Serif italic, but it’s difficult to tell when it’s reversed out (light on dark).

Coming up…

A great interview with the man behind the Porchez Typofonderie and designer of Le Monde, Sabon Next and Ambroise, Jean François Porchez; and some more great articles from Kris Sowersby. Alec Julien has also been working hard on a series of video tutorials. They’ll be posted soon; I think you’re going to like them.

And finally

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of iLT. We’ve now passed one million page views. It really is great to receive your emails and to read your comments. That reminds me: February 8th marks iLT’s six-month birthday—how time flies! Have a great Sunday, folks.

Estudio de un caso de creación de fuentes: Joules

Siempre en la búsqueda de la inspiración tipográfica, compré una pluma caligráfica durante el verano, convencido de que mis garabatos con ella terminarían convirtiéndose en unas mágicas letras. Una semana y una docena de páginas después, estaba sin nada interesante o incluso lejanamente artístico. Luego, una noche, cansado y desesperado, cuando se me había acabado la tinta negra, coloqué en la pluma un cartucho de tinta roja, y boceté el alfabeto que pronto se convertiría en la familia Joules. Luego pensé que sería interesante para algunos de ustedes si documentara parte del proceso de creación de fuentes involucrado en este caso.

Esta es una de las muchas páginas que boceté esa noche:

Joules initial drawing

Continue reading this article

Terminologie typographique: Garalde

Dans la première partie de cette série, nous avons abordé les caractères humanistiques; aussi bien dans leur contexte historique que pour leurs caractéristiques visuelles, hier et aujourd’hui. On continue la chronologie en s’attardant un peu, le temps de se familiariser, sur certaines garaldes magnifiques.

Nous avons déjà vu que les caractères humanistes ont des racines calligraphiques très prononcées. Les garaldes, bien que partageant les mêmes influences, s’affranchissent plus radicalement de la simple imitation de l’écriture des lettrés et scribes italiens d’antan. Ce n’est qu’à partir de cette période que la typographie passe réellement la vitesse supérieure, en faisant ainsi l’une des phases les plus riches de son histoire.

garaldes

Portrait d’une garalde

Les garaldes font preuve d’un raffinement croissant du dessin, notamment dû à l’amélioration constante de l’habileté des graveurs de poinçons. En conséquence, le contraste plein/déliés est accentué et les formes s’en ressentent claires et affinées. On le remarque davantage sur les empattements: chez les garaldes, les empattements des ascendantes ont une forme pointue plus prononcées (figure 1.1).

Un autre changement d’envergure concerne l’axe, qui s’est redressé (figure 1.2) en position plus verticale. Il se peut que vous vous rappeliez notre vieil ami, le e bas de casse des caractères humanistiques et sa traverse oblique: chez les garaldes, nous assistons à l’adoption un tantinet soudaine d’une traverse horizontale (figure 1.3). J’ai passé quelques temps à essayer de comprendre pourquoi ce e avait dû muter si radicalement. Après avoir retourné les cieux ; et ma bibliothèque, je décidais de poser la question sur Typophile. Pour ne pas m’épandre davantage que de raison sur cette épique anecdote, je vous enjoins de lire le sujet ouvert sur la traverse du e. (Merci à Nick Shinn, David et les autres pour leurs précieux apports).

La première italique

Puisque nous sommes dans les changements radicaux, c’est également vers 1501 que nous observons le tout premier caractère italique. Ils furent d’abord conçus comme des caractères autonomes, non comme les pendants des romains, ceci afin de satisfaire les contraintes d’espace imposées par l’édition de livres de poches. La première italique fut, dès lors, conçue comme un caractère de labeur.

La contribution de Griffo aux caractères romains s’étend à l’harmonisation poussée entre capitales et bas de casse, notamment en gravant les capitales à peine moins hautes que les ascendantes de lettres telles que b et d, et en en réduisant subtilement la graisse.—A Short History of the Printed Word, Chappell et Bringhurst, page 92.

On pourrait catégoriser les garaldes en quatre sous-catégories, ainsi que le schéma ci-dessous le suggère, et en ventiler les membres de Francesco Griffo à William Caslon Ier. Contrairement aux caractères humanistiques, les garaldes eurent le vent en poupe durant plus de deux siècles et nombre d’entre elles sont encore des caractères de texte populaires.

old-style-chart-fr.gif

Noms des caractères en rouge, personnalités notables en-dessous.

Caractères garaldes
Et voici quelques garaldes de plus: Berling, Calisto, Goudy Old Style, Granjon, Janson, Palatino, Perpetua, Plantin, Sabon et Weiss, pour ne citer qu’elles.

humanist-vs-old-style-fr.gif

Alors comme ça, notre brève introduction aux garaldes vous a plu? Pour ceux d’entre vous désireux de mettre leurs connaissances à l’épreuve, devinez donc lequel de ces caractères est considéré comme une garalde:

Times New Roman, Baskerville, Concorde, ITC Cheltenham

Et pour les typomasochistes parmi vous (je crains que vous ne soyez en majorité), voici vos devoirs de garalde:

1. D’où vient le terme Garalde?
2. Qui commanda à Claude Garamond la gravure des Grecs du Roi?
3. La plupart des italiques contemporaines ne sont pas basées sur la première Aldine italique gravée par Griffo. Sur quoi sont-elles modelées?
4. Que signifie le terme «Axe humaniste»?
5. À cause d’un quiproquo, le caractère Janson est nommé d’après Nicolas Janson. D’après qui devrait-il être nommé?

Si vous connaissez les réponses, épanchez-vous donc dans les commentaires; si vous n’en savez rien, pas la peine de s’inquiéter: j’ai pensé qu’en posant ces questions, tout le monde pourrait participer, pour qu’ainsi nous puissions tous en retirer quelque chose.

Nous aborderons les réales dans la troisième partie. J’espère que, jusqu’ici, ça vous plaît. Commentaires et suggestions sont bienvenus, dans l’espace dédié ci-dessous.

Translated by Jean-Baptiste Levée

FontBook

Book Review

Recently I received through the post something large, yellow and weighing 3kg. No, not a genetically modified banana, but FontShop’s FontBook, an the encyclopaedia of type. This book really should come with a health warning: my postman almost had a hernia delivering it, and very nearly sprained his wrist attempting to hold it in one hand as he passed me the delivery receipt with the other. However, with some 32,000 type samples, 1,760 pages, and 100,000 footnotes and cross-references, I don’t think FontShop will be publishing a pocket version any time soon.

I took the FontBook to my local café, where I often work in the evenings, and complete strangers approached me (unusual in Japan); several people remarked ‘ookii hon desu ne!’ (big book, isn’t it!), while others simply asked what the book was about.

fontbook-photo1.jpg

Beyond the trademark FontShop yellow covers, the content is prefaced by a ‘how to use this book’ section in both English and German; however, to be frank, you could be a Martian and/or only speak Zangalulob and still find your way around the book without any problems. The types are organised into eight main groups: Sans, Serif, Slab, Script, Display, Blackletter, Symbols, and Non-Latin.

Cross-references

My favourite feature of the book—and this must have taken ages to prepare—is the ample cross references. For example, I’m looking for something similar to one of my favourite types, Gerard Unger’s Swift (a). I can go to the Serif section—where all the types are arranged alphabetically,…p, q, r, s,… Swift! The cross reference in the inside margin displays an eye icon (denoting similar types); and listed are ITC Charter (b), Demos, Hollander and Bitsream Oranda . A very simple and very powerful feature.

fontbook-refs.gif

In fact I’d love to see this further developed, so that for example, I’m looking for a good sans serif accompaniment to Swift, and there’s a cross-reference that points me to one. I’d also like to see an index of names. Anyway, it’s the cross-references that do it for me, making FontBook an invaluable tool for just about anyone who uses type. There really should be no studio without this in its library.

After spending an hour or so flicking through its pages, Monty Python’s exploding glutton, Mr Creosote came to mind. After, consuming some 20 courses, four bottles of vintage red and six crates of beer, the Maître D, played by John Cleese, recommends “And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.” Type gluttons among you will simply not be able to resist just one more wafer-thin page.

In absolute terms, $99 is not cheap, but then this is no throw-away paperback novel; it’s a 1,760-page, 3kg encyclopaedia. An in relative terms FontBook is cheaper than 20 McDonald’s Value Meals.

Why?

The cynics among us (and I can be one too), may argue that FontBook is a marketing tool aimed at selling more fonts. It may well sell more fonts—FontShop is not the Samaritans. However, when one considers the time that has gone into producing this tome, and the costs of production, I doubt that FontBook is much of a cash cow. I suggest instead that it is simply the product of a passion for type, published not so much with pecuniary gain in mind, but simply because its authors love type.

The FontBook is to type what the chocolate house is to chocoholics.

This book is probably worth robbing a bank for (non-violently, of course). However, if you’re caught, then whatever you do, don’t mention this article; and pray that Erik Spiekermann is on the jury. If you don’t hear from me for a while, then it’s because Mafia Maurice and Billy the Bruiser won’t let me use the ‘Internet’ in Cell Block H—until I perform favours of a wholly type-unrelated nature. I guess it’s only then that I will appreciate the fact that FontBook weighs 3kg. Anyway, let’s hope I’m put in charge of the prison library.

Coming up…

Prison typography.

And there’s a prize if you can tell me which three types I used in the header “i” (1) “love” (2) “typography” (3). One correct entry will be randomly selected and announced on this week’s Sunday Type. The winner will receive a copy of typography today by Helmut Schmid.

Further reading:
One Book to Specify Them All. Khoi Vinh of Subtraction interviews Stephen Coles of FontShop.
FontBook on FontShop, with PDF sample pages.
FontBook—the movie.

Why Bembo Sucks

By Kris Sowersby

At a recent panel discussion on New Zealand book design, I lambasted the overuse of Bembo in many New Zealand books. As more questions were asked than could be answered, I wrote this article to explain myself. Let me begin with a brief history.

Before digital typesetting and offset printing, there was the letterpress. A typeface was composed of fonts, one font for each size. These size-specific fonts consisted of individual letters made from metal alloy. Single letters were placed by hand to create words, words were aligned into sentences, sentences were stacked to make paragraphs, and these were inked and pressed into paper. As a printing process it is fairly basic. Woodcuts and potato stamps use a similar method.

Bembo

However, cutting a 7-point lowercase ‘g’ takes a lot more skill than making a smiley-face potato stamp! The old masters of typeface design spent decades perfecting their craft. Each font of type was designed to work at a specific size. For instance, when Bodoni needed a font for text size, he cut a font at 9 point. When he needed a larger size for headings, he cut another font at 36 point. The 9 point worked beautifully for text and 36 point worked for display. If one were to blow up the printed impression of the 9 point to the same size as the 36, the differences would be readily apparent. The 9 point has sturdier details: the serifs are thicker, the contrast is lower, and the spacing is more generous. The 36 point has much finer lines and the spacing is tighter. This is as much a technical consideration as an aesthetic one: the 9 point needs to be sturdier to withstand the printing process. If the details are too fine then the metal will quickly wear or serifs will break off when pressed into paper.

This practice takes on new meaning when we consider that there can never be a definitive Bodoni, Garamond, Jenson, or Fleischmann typeface, as their oeuvres consist of a multitude of single, size-specific fonts. It is like mashing up Othello, King Lear, Hamlet and a touch of The Tempest and publishing it as ‘The Shakespeare’.

Why is this relevant? Well, in the rush to adapt to digital typesetting technology, type foundries digitised classic typefaces. The nature of digital fonts is to use one outline and scale as desired. Typefaces went from being cut in a multitude of sizes to a single, all-encompassing outline. A digital typeface can be optimised for a few sizes, but hardly for all. Bembo, for instance, is a digital copy of a metal interpretation of an original typeface cut in 1495 – a copy of a copy. So, the process of digitisation poses a problem: which point size should be digitised?

This seemingly superfluous dilemma can only be truly understood when the original metal typefaces are seen in print. Oh, what a joyous sight! The subtle variation of letterform, the slight impression into the paper, the vibrant warmth of a page of text. It is not only beautiful, but an absolute delight to read. The effect of these typefaces is impossible to emulate with their insipid digital ghosts. Modern printing has become so perfect, so uniform and precise that the spirit of the original is crushed. It is like spending a lifetime slurping instant coffee and never experiencing a proper espresso.

As languages change, so do typefaces. These changes are not radical; they are subtle evolutions that address culture and technology. Modern typography requires modern typefaces, designed by the people of our time for the people of our time. There are cultural considerations as well. Is it appropriate to set contemporary Pasifika poetry in a typeface designed by a seventeenth-century Italian philanderer? What about using an eighteenth-century clanger for a twenty-first century New Zealand political polemic?

Are the ideals of the typeface designer compatible with those of the writer? It would be pedantic, of course, to match every nuance of the writing to the tone of the typeface. However, it is nice when some effort is made in the selection of typeface. Reading New Zealand books would be far less tiresome if the internal typography was much more considered. Just imagine if the same amount of effort went into choosing the typeface as there is for choosing the colour of the cover!

Clinging to the corpses of digital ‘classics’ is pointless, old fashioned and anachronistic – it will only ever lead to typography that is dull at worst and pedestrian at best. Ultimately, the point is to respect the reader. They will spend a lot of time reading the thing, so it is sensible to make that experience as comfortable and appropriate as possible.

Kris Sowersby is a professional type designer from New Zealand. You can see his typefaces at Village.


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