Informal is not an adjective that readily comes to mind in describing anything in the type catalogue of New York foundry, Hoefler & Co. From the highly formal sparkle of Renaissance inspired text romans like Requiem through its humanist sans, Ideal Sans, to the precision and aplomb of the shaded and layered Obsidian, all walk the page with a decidedly formal poise. Perhaps the closest they have come to informality is in the beautiful cursive letterforms in the italic styles of the recently released ‘non-typewriter typewriter face’, Operator – but again, informal those letters are not.
Inkwell, then, is unusual in two respects: first, that it marks H&Co’s first foray into informal fonts (and scripts!); and second, that it is a family that extends across genres from a constructed, yet assuredly handwritten inline script through informal Blackletter and Tuscan styles. Uniting these otherwise disparate family members are, not the calligrapher’s quills and nibs but the everyday writing tools that we all reach for to take and make notes.
Each core style in this ‘little universe of fonts’ comes in six weights. I particularly like the Tuscan. Why bifurcate the terminals when you can simply bifurcate everything – even the symbols and punctuation! Wonderful.
If informal fonts were candy, then comic sans is the jaw-aching, tongue-staining gobstopper – Inkwell, the Fair Trade, organic, very dark chocolate. Too, Inkwell demonstrates that informal need not mean disheveled and insolent. Inkwell is beautifully turned out – informal yet sophisticated.
For much greater erudition and eloquence than I can ever muster on the subject of Inkwell’s genesis and evolution, go enjoy Jonathan Hoefler’s talk at the Typographics conference.