This Month in Typography

Welcome to this month’s roundup of type-related info and entertainment. Today, we dust off our LPs for typographic inspiration, listen to wise words from Milton Glaser, congratulate several award winners, hear from a bunch of type designers, discuss the gender gap in type design, examine the epistemology of typefaces, write a dissertation without punctuation, celebrate new typographic identities from Renault and Volkswagen, talk about font rentals, play drums by typing, and much more!



Ah, 12-inch LP covers! They’re hip again, so even if you’re too young to remember them in their heyday, you’ve probably seen your fair share of them nowadays. Having 144 square inches of canvas gives designers way more to work with than for CD design (a mere 25 square inches), and album designers of the 1950s through the 1980s often took full advantage of all of that glorious space. Typophonic archives some of these designs, many of them heavily typographic. My personal favorites are the jazz albums from the 50s and 60s — Blue Note in particular. Here’s a website with a bunch of Blue Note album art. Blue Note Records itself has a nifty little timeline widget that shows off some of its finest album covers.

Milton Glaser Chimes in on Hillary Clinton’s Logo


The Internet has been buzzing after the recent unveiling of U.S. politicians’ logos. Much ire has been released upon Hillary Clinton’s “H-with-red-arrow”, but Milton Glaser has weighed in with a lukewarm thumbs-up: “The mark doesn’t seem to be a breakthrough in the history of trademark design, but it’s professional and competent…”

Two Type Purists React to Dafont.com

Dave Churchman and Dave Peat don’t like what they see. (Courtesy of the upcoming film, Pressing On, that recently got successfully Kickstarted.)

Shiva Nallaperumal Named Winner of 2015 Catalyst Award


Created in 2010, SOTA’s Catalyst Award recognizes a person 25 years of age or younger who demonstrates significant achievement and future promise in the field of typography. Nallaperumal will present his work and receive the award at TypeCon2015, taking place this summer in Denver, Colorado.

2015 TDC Typeface Design Winners


The Type Directors Club has announced its typeface design winners for 2015. Winners include Typotheque’s Woodkit, Grilli Type’s GT Sectra, and Klim Type’s Domaine Sans.

FontScout: A New App from MyFonts.com


Details are scant, but MyFonts.com is developing a font exploration app called FontScout. From their website: “FontScout is a new way to explore the world’s largest collection of fonts. Find similar fonts and discover unknown gems by browsing visually.”

Fontshop’s Monthly Review of Movie Poster Typography


Yves Peters looks at a recent crop of movie posters, through typographic lenses. Some super great analysis by Yves! I’m very thankful to see no trace of Trajan anywhere. Perhaps movie poster designers will stop using it for a little while? (A guy can dream…)

A PhD Thesis Without Punctuation


I love academia. Architect Patrick Stewart from the University of British Columbia submitted his dissertation without uppercase letters, full stops, or commas, all of which was to make an artistic point: “my style of writing is not laziness or lack of knowledge of proper usage of the english language it is a form of grammatical resistance as a deconstructionist”. Keith Houston over at Shady Characters reports that “there may be very few marks of punctuation in Dr Stewart’s thesis, but it is rich with punctuation in its most elemental form”.

Meet Berthold Wolpe


World renowned publisher Faber & Faber has been around since 1929, publishing the likes of T.S Eliot and Samuel Beckett. During WW II, Faber hired a German-Jewish typographer named Berthold Wolpe, fresh out of an Australian internment camp. His typographic book covers, many of them hand-drawn, became emblematic of the company and the era. Read more about his story over on AIGA’s website.

The Hermann Zapf Sketchbook Project


In the mood to help Kickstart a typographic project? Here’s one for you! A facsimile edition of an unpublished masterpiece of calligraphy and painting by Hermann Zapf, a master typographer and calligrapher. Zapf kept a series of sketchbooks featuring 71 mini-masterpieces. They will be reproduced here, with Zapf’s cooperation. Sure to be a thing of beauty.

Font Release: Bruhn Sans


Type designer Peter Bruhn passed away last year, before putting the finishing touches to his type family Bruhn Sans. Colleagues Rui Abreu and Göran Söderström took up where Peter left off and completed the fonts, which are now for sale (proceeds to benefit Peter’s family).

Erik Spiekermann’s Master Class in Letterpress


A photodocumentary of a day-long master class in letterpress, taught by typography sage Erik Spiekermann, and held at his Berlin print workshop p98a. “The word ‘text’ shares its root word with ‘textile’ — a nod towards the shapely, woven and handcrafted nature of words. A day spent at p98a reminds you of the physicality of text, how materials shape an idea. As the workshop comes to a close, I find myself appreciating the complexity of creating a single word in a time when words can be typed and formatted so quickly.”

Mark Simonson on How to Design a Typeface


Mark Simonson, font creator extraordinaire (Proxima Nova and Kinescope, for example), talks to Adobe about his history development in the field.

At Home With Xavier Dupré


Xavier Dupré, designer of typefaces such as FF Yoga, talks about his design process, life in Cambodia, and his art collection.

Interview with Jean-Baptiste Levée


Paris based type designer, ATypI board member, and founder of Production Type, Jean-Baptiste Levée, talks with Ligature.ch. about some of his recent projects.

Resistenza Type Foundry — A Dream Team of Two


The Resistenza type foundry is the brainchild of Giuseppe Salerno & Paco González. Check out this interview where they talk about their work and play. “Our creative process changes a lot from one to another project. Sometimes ideas come out in a sketch book, other times just reading a nice handwritten chalkboard on a beautiful café. We are passionate about what we do so our minds are always open wide to letters in all their forms.”

Women in Type Design


Yves Peters discusses the gender gap in type design, with Verena Gerlach, Nadine Chahine, Emanuela Conidi, and Nina Stössinger. While it’s ridiculous that we are still talking about gender gaps in any field, there is clearly still a gap in type design. Stössinger offers some optimism for the future, though: “Typeface design certainly has more men in the profession, lots of white men in particular. But I do not think there is a prejudice against women at all – it feels like a fairly open and welcoming scene, especially for newcomers. I am under the impression that compared to other fields (cough games cough) the type scene is actually very supportive of women.”

Recent Berlin TYPO Talks


Reports on a recent slew of TYPO talks from Berlin, including Drury Brennan’s “On Point: An Introduction to Blackletter”, Erik Kessels’ “Confusion Makes the World Go Round”, and Onur Yazıcıgil’s “Continuous Text Typefaces Versus Display Typefaces in the Ottoman Empire”.

Two Typefaces in Five Days


Font giant Monotype recently instituted its first font marathon, putting two of its designers, Toshi Omagari and Jim Ford, in a room in Monotype’s New York offices for five days, with the sole job of designing original typefaces. Omagari’s resulting font (Cowhand) is an interesting cowboy-flavored experiment that renders any word of any length at the exact same width. Ford’s font (Esca) is a highly condensed brush-script-inspired face.

Glyphs 2.0


The well-regarded relative newcomer Glyphs font creation application has just graduated to version 2. New features include webfont generation, color fonts, TrueType autohinting, better diacritics, smart components, and more. A 30-day trial is available — take it for a spin!

RoboFont Extensions


Call all font designer nerds! RoboFont is a UFO (a file spec that many font creation programs can export) editor that lets you get down and dirty with the nitty gritty of your fonts. Here is a repository of scripts that can make your life easier (or harder, depending) when working with RoboFont.

Amster Video Specimen

This video introduces the Amster type family, designed by Francisco Gálvez Pizarro, and published by PampaType.

Errol Morris on the Epistemology of Typefaces


In 2013, filmmaker and author Errol Morris ran an experiment via the New York Times. The test tried to discover if some typefaces are more believable than others — that is, if you write a paragraph in Baskerville, will people believe that paragraph more readily than if you set it in Comic Sans? Morris is interviewed about the experiment, and resulting book, here.



Here’s a new Mac app with a new model: Rent fonts before you buy them. (Well, this isn’t an entirely new model. Monotype is doing something similar with its SkyFonts service.) You can try fonts for free in your OS X apps, rent them month-to-month for a tenth of their regular retail price, and then, if you like, you can buy the fonts by renting them for a year, at which time you can use them without further payment. Fonts are available from Mark Simonson, Process, House Industries, Typotheque, and others, and while you won’t get the variety you will over on retail sites like MyFonts.com, there’s certainly enough variety to get you going. Here’s an interview by Steven Heller with Peter Bilak of Fontstand.

Living Memory


Designer Willem Rabe was commissioned (by a Russian design agency, along with Google Russia) to create a typographic illustration commemorating the 70th anniversary of VE Day. The resulting illustration (composed of 800 words) became the centerpiece of the biggest Russian online archive of frontline letters from World War II. Lovely.

A Brief History of Braille


Louis Braille invented his tactile alphabet by the time he was 16, in 1825. It quickly eclipsed its competition (one of which is portrayed in the image above), but also encountered its share of problems as it developed (diacritical marks were a big speed bump, for instance). Apparently, Braille is foundering nowadays: “…over the last 50 years, American Braille literacy has dropped from 50% in school-age blind children, to about 10%. As a medium of cultural expression, Braille’s future is far from certain. But it’s had a 180-year run, quite remarkable for a technology”!

Making a Letterpress Print Using Mid-Century Typefaces

MidCentury magazine partners with esteemed letterpress designers The Counter Press to produce 100 hand-made letterpress prints using mid-century typefaces. So nice to see letterpress in action!

Type Production at MacKellar, Smiths and Jordon


Scans from One Hundred Years: MacKellar, Smiths, & Jordon Foundry, 1796–1896, showing how type was made at the “Oldest American Type Foundry” at the end of the 19th century.

An Interview with Satya Rajpurohit


MyFonts.com interviews Satya Rajpurohit, who runs the Indian Type Foundry. Rajpurohit notes a stumbling block for Indian type designers: “According to a recent survey, people in India currently speak about 780 languages written in 11 different scripts: Devanagari, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Odia or Oriya, Arabic and Latin. The Sanskrit language stands as the classical language of our country. Hindi has been declared official language of our Federal Government, accompanied by English as the associate language; about 35% of Indians speak Hindi.” This led him to develop Kohinoor — a superfamily that supports all the languages of India while keeping the visual aesthetic of all scripts similar across the entire suite of typefaces.

Sizing Up Readability & Legibility


Designer Jason Tselentis talks about type size and legibility on the web. Spoiler alert: Size body text larger than 16 pixels, especially if the font’s x-height is small; size captions and short-form content at smaller sizes such as 12 pixels and lower, making sure to test how it works on various digital displays.

De Divina Proportione


The Special Collections — Archives at the University of Missouri Libraries has a Tumblr account, disproving the maxim that Tumblr is for just for 16 year olds with huge amounts of angst. Anyway, Mizzou has posted scans of a 1509 first edition of De Divina Proportione, a treatise that applies geometry and the mathematical golden ratio to art, architecture, type design, and even the human body, written by mathematician Luca Pacioli with illustrations designed by his friend Leonardo da Vinci. Beautiful.

Das Typeface: Volkswagen Reveals a New Font


Volkswagen has apparently dispensed with its trademark geometric sans (VW Utopia), and has commissioned two new typefaces: Volkswagen Text and Volkswagen Head, created by MetaDesign. Head. The typeface will appear in and on Volkswagen cars, and, presumably in the company’s ads. Will a more humanist font speak to a new generation of car buyers? Or will the public miss the old authoritative geometric face?

A New Logo and Identity for Renault


An opinionated look at Renault’s new identity, crafted in-house by the Renault design team. I like the more monoline typeface being used now. The reviewer in this article doesn’t have too many kind things to say about the redesign, opining that the typeface is “a really bad mash-up of Museo and Rotis Semi Serif”, and noting a lens flare on the logo’s diamond and an odd set of affected stick figures, among other missteps.

OS X and iOS Will Switch to the “San Francisco” Typeface


Several months ago, we reported on Apple’s new San Franciso fonts that were going to grace their new line of smart watches. Well, now it looks like Apple will bring these fonts to OS X and iOS as well, doing away with Helvetica Neue.

Pure Pākati Design Information


Pure Pakati is a custom typeface designed by the Klim Type Foundry for Tourism New Zealand. Read the story of its development and creation here.

John Stevens Fractur Demonstration

Some beautiful hand lettering by John Stevens.

Hand Lettering from Tobias Hall


Tobias Hall is a freelance illustrator, letterer, designer, and mural artist working out of London. His site is chock full of lovely lettering.

Literata: Google’s New Play Font


Google introduced Literata — its new default font family for Google Play Books. It replaces Droid Serif, using a lower x-height and higher ascenders than its predecessor. Literata features two different weights (with matching italics), and it includes support for Western, Central, and Eastern European languages, as well as for Polytonic Greek and Cyrillic.

Type Drummer


Here’s one of those things you may, depending on your personality of course, find yourself playing with for a disturbingly long time. Type in strings of letters, and Type Drummer renders them as drum loops. Here’s a cool loop in 7/8: rurjyjr

Edited by Alec Julien.

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