When it comes to type, some great things have come out of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Jos Buivenga is no exception. Art Director and type designer, well-known for his quality free fonts, Jos is quite a talent, and has quite a passion for type. After numerous requests from readers, I finally got around to interviewing the man behind exljbris.
Why do you design typefaces?
It has grown on me. It’s now more or less like breathing to me. I can’t help it. I just want to do it. It allows me to be highly involved–or even lose myself–in a creative process. That’s the most important thing in my life. I’ve had similar experiences with painting and writing short stories, but it doesn’t come close to designing type. I’ve taught myself and still have lots to learn but I hope to improve with every typeface I make.
Before we get started, I’d just like to announce that on Wednesday I’ll be publishing the long-awaited interview with Jos Buivenga, the man behind type foundry exljbris. Thanks to everyone for their questions for Jos submissions. Is it really Sunday again? Well, it had better be, because today we have a jam-packed-to-bursting roundup of type news, free fonts and lots more.
An invisible grid of parallel horizontal lines is used as a constant reference in the creation of a font. It resembles a musical score and its four (or five) horizontal lines represent, from top to bottom, the ascender line (the height of the highest ascender), which is sometimes equivalent to and sometimes higher than the ascent or capline (the height of the capital letters). Next comes the meanline or waist line (the height of a lowercase x), which can be referred to as a high waist line or a low waist line; the baseline (on which the letters appear to rest); and finally, at the very bottom, the descent, descender or beard line (the level to which the lowest descenders descend).
First, a big thank you to all who read and commented on On Choosing Type. I’m in search of contributing authors who can write case studies on type choice for, say, a redesign. For example, Creative Review magazine recently redesigned and chose to use Farnham throughout; an article on why a certain type was chosen and how it compliments other elements – that’s the kind of thing I’m after. If you’re interested, then simply email me at johno@ this domain.
Let’s begin our Sunday Type with Smoothing Out the Creases with Web Fonts, from Jon Tan. I mentioned the importance of checking your type across different systems, and Jon’s article considers the rendering of fonts in OSX and Windows. Great article.
A great little—with emphasis on the little—font from those talented people at Underware. A number of people have emailed to ask which typeface I use to set the the captions for illustrations. In fact, I stole the idea from Kris Sowersby after he used it for his article Newzald: From Moleskine to Market. It’s only designed to be used at one size, 8pt; but I guess there’s nothing stopping you using it at larger sizes too—might be fun.
You can download it for free from Underware (as always, remember to read the license).
And on the topic of free fonts, Pointy has been updated. You can download the updated version here (free for non-commercial use).
Our fourth free font is the sans serif Graublau Web (regular and bold). It has been released with web-font embedding in mind. Pity it doesn’t at least include an italic.
One of the concerns I have with so-called web fonts, is that we may well see a whole raft of copy-cats—good type tweaked and re-licensed. Let’s hope not.
Bake your own
FontStruct is a brilliant new type-creation tool from FontShop. It’s very well conceived and excellently executed. It’s incredibly easy to use. If you do create something, be sure to tell me about it. Perhaps we could feature some of the Fontstruct fonts right here.
The FontFeed has two excellent interviews with Martin Majoor (designer of one of my favourite typefaces, Scala) and with the enormously talented (why don’t we hear more about him?) Xavier Dupré (Vista Sans, Megano, et al.).
The interviews are available as PDFs to download for free. Be sure to read them!
Want a typeface that brings a smile to your face? Look no further than LOVOLO:
The talented Mr Schwartz is in Tokyo on Tuesday to speak at Tab Talks 4. I was hoping to get there, though it’s unlikely now. Tokyo is a long way from me (and domestic travel in Japan is insanely expensive). If you are closer to Tokyo than me, then why not head over to Shinagawa and see him in the flesh. Be sure to take some photos for iLT. The talk will be in English with a Japanese interpreter (not the other way round).
Typography is not a science. Typography is an art. There are those who’d like to ‘scientificize’; those who believe that a large enough sample of data will somehow elicit good typography. However, this sausage-machine mentality will only ever produce sausages. That typography and choosing type is not a science trammeled by axioms and rules is a cause to rejoice.
Finally, Professor Erik Spiekermann has received the recognition he deserves. The information architect and ‘father of fonts’ has become a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) on the diplomatic list for services to the global development of type.
Loosen your belts because this one’s a big one. Not sure where to start, so why not start with a receding hairline. Well, that’s the name of Christopher’s blog; and why do I mention it? Because he’s written a good little piece entitled Ten typographic mistakes everyone makes.
First, something for the children, or for the child in you: Action Type, type gone 3D:
Last week I mentioned the type exercise that Karly set herself. Looks as though she inspired others to have a go. Here are two of them: Vlad (like his take on the word ‘magic’—with the omitted ‘a’); and Matt Jewell (with a very lonely ‘o’. Perhaps I’ll work with Karly to set a type exercise every couple of weeks. What do you think? And what would you think if there were prizes involved?
A great free PDF magazine that you may not have come across before is Letterspace, the newsletter of the Typpe Designers Club. It’s a darn good read.
I particularly enjoyed Cyrus Highsmith’s article Do we need more fonts? from the winter 2008 issue (PDF link at the bottom of that page).
Zanzibar, yet another lovely script from Mark Simonson:
the second, a scratchy handwriting-inspired script called On the Line
and Farnham by Christian Schwartz, the new face of the redesigned Creative Review. I just got my copy through the mail, and it looks gorgeous. Farnham is an excellent choice and comes in four million weights and styles (42, actually):
Several interviews, part four of the Type Terms/Type History series; part three of Paul Dean’s eXtreme type; iLT’s second-quarter 15 Great Examples of Web Typography; and an article on Selecting Open Source Fonts. Oh, and the first iLT t-shirts will be available soon. Initially, there will be three designs to choose from. An opportunity to get some type on your chests before summer.
“I was killing time and pain at a nearby bar called The Ear, so named because the two ribs of the ‘B’ in the neon sign that read ‘Bar’ had burned out years ago. So had most of the patrons.”—Kinky Friedman, Blast From the Past, 1998.
Welcome to another Sunday Type. I’ve now moved, have unpacked most boxes and even have a connection to the Internet. Time to celebrate with a Shandy. Thanks to everyone who has mailed me this past couple of weeks. I’m a little behind in answering mails, so please bear with me.
I was recently looking for some top-quality type photos to illustrate an article, and came across some very nice ones from the type junkie on Flickr:
First, I must apologies that today’s Sunday Type is closer to a Monday Type. I have now moved and am surrounded by numerous half-open boxes, and I have to wait until March 21 until I get connected. What an odd feeling it is not be connected to the Internet. Anyway, I’ve found an Internet Café close by, so I’ll survive until I get connected at home. Oddly enough, I appear to have lost several boxes during the move, and my heart missed a beat when I thought that I’d forgotten my FontBook. Anyway, that’s quite enough of moving mishaps. Here’s Sunday Type:
In this article I will attempt to illustrate my design process—from typeface concept to a marketable font. Not many folks are willing to write about this. Perhaps they find it boring, irrelevant or just a little bit personal. I suspect it is a mix of all the above.