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This month’s font

Club Lithographer

A wide-set italic with elongated serifs

Club Lithographer is a wide-set italic with elongated serifs, blobby outstrokes, and an unusually steep slant (roughly 24°). It’s a response to the typeface Lithographic Italic, credited to Andrew Little and published by A. D. Farmer & Son in 1873. My rendition plays up the expansion contrast present in this style of lettering, letting the weight quickly swell up in the downstrokes in a way that’s reminiscent of the expanding nib of a pointed pen. And it goes even further than traditional pointed-pen lettering by punctuating the beginnings and endings of strokes with expressive blobs.

PDF Specimen

Club Lithographer is a wide-set italic with elongated serifs, blobby outstrokes, and an unusually steep slant (roughly 24°). It’s a response to the typeface Lithographic Italic, credited to Andrew Little and published by A. D. Farmer & Son in 1873.
My rendition plays up the expansion contrast present in this style of lettering, letting the weight quickly swell up in the downstrokes in a way that’s reminiscent of the expanding nib of a pointed pen.
And it goes even further than traditional pointed-pen lettering by punctuating the beginnings and endings of strokes with expressive blobs.

October 2020

Megabase Open

Color gradients, variable slant axes, and more

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Where do I even start with this one? Megabase Open is a hollowed-out version of Megabase, a display gothic with strong horizontal stress inspired by the clunkiness of 19th-century gothics like Gothic Bold and the space-age funkiness of 1970s designs such as Aldo Novarese’s Sintex and Bob Newman’s Zipper. This month’s issue features experiments that fill those hollow spaces with colors and gradients.

PDF Specimen

Demo page

Megabase Open is a hollowed-out version of Megabase, a display gothic with strong horizontal stress inspired by the clunkiness of
19th-century gothics like Gothic Bold and the space-age funkiness of 1970s designs such as Aldo Novarese’s Sintex and Bob Newman’s Zipper. This month’s issue features experiments that fill those hollow spaces with colors and gradients.

September 2020

Roslindale Display Widths

A full array of widths and weights for Roslindale Display

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This month, I’ve finally added wider and lighter Display styles to Roslindale, my cheeky serif typeface. Roslindale takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry. De Vinne was an oldstyle that couldn’t shake its Victorian sensibilities, designed in a time that was so immersed in the upright Modern style that folks seemed to forget what diagonal stress actually looked like. Roslindale smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, flirting with the slickness of 1970s interpretations such as ITC Bernase.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Roslindale family

I’ve added wider and lighter Display styles to Roslindale, my cheeky serif typeface. Roslindale takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry.
De Vinne was an oldstyle that couldn’t shake its Victorian sensibilities, designed in a time that was so immersed in the upright Modern style that folks seemed to forget what diagonal stress actually looked like.
Roslindale smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, flirting with the slickness of 1970s interpretations such as ITC Bernase.

August 2020

Heckondon Hairline

A collaborative Clarendon with Bethany Heck

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Heckendon is a bracketed slab serif based on the Condensed Clarendons of nineteenth century British and American poster typography. Under the guidance of Clarendon-enthusiast Bethany Heck, I drew this Hairline style far thinner than any of its Victorian predecessors, and we hope this is only the beginning. Heckendon’s simple and confident forms make it feel industrial-strength even at the thinnest possible weight, while its ball terminals lend it a touch of gracefulness.

PDF Specimen

Heckendon is a bracketed slab serif based on the Condensed Clarendons of nineteenth century British and American poster typography. Under the guidance of Clarendon-enthusiast
Bethany Heck, I drew this Hairline style far thinner than any of its Victorian predecessors, and we hope this is only the beginning. Heckendon’s simple and confident forms make it feel industrial-strength even at the thinnest possible weight, while its ball terminals lend it a touch of gracefulness.

July 2020

Pomfret

Titling caps in the style of Bertram Goodhue

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Pomfret is a set of titling capitals with Arts & Crafts flair. After years of encouragement from Roger Black, I began the design as an homage to the work of Bertram Goodhue, famous as the architect of the Nebraska State Capitol as well as the typeface Cheltenham. The skeletons of the letters were initially inspired by the tightly-spaced capitals (especially the restrained R and K) found on his cover for The Knight Errant. Pomfret moves beyond its source material, adopting a more contemporary finish with discretionary ligatures, razor-thin hairlines, and restrained, bracketed serifs.

PDF Specimen

Design Notes

Pomfret is a set of titling capitals with Arts & Crafts flair. After years of encouragement from Roger Black, I began the design as an homage to the work of Bertram Goodhue, famous as the architect of the Nebraska State Capitol as well as the typeface Cheltenham.
The skeletons of the letters were initially inspired by the tightly-spaced capitals (especially the restrained R and K) found on his cover for The Knight Errant. Pomfret moves beyond its source material, adopting a more contemporary finish with discretionary ligatures, razor-thin hairlines, and restrained, bracketed serifs.

June 2020

Bild Compressed Weights

Lighter weights for this impactful American Gothic

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This expansion of my sans serif Bild leaves the original bold weights behind and explores the lighter end of the spectrum. The sketches for this date back to 2012, when Sam Berlow encouraged me to develop a Grotesque family built around Trade Gothic’s “outliers”: two anomalous straight-sided weights that had little to do with the rest of Jackson Burke’s classic midcentury family.

PDF Specimen

This expansion of my sans serif Bild leaves the original bold weights behind and explores the lighter end of the spectrum. The sketches for this date back to 2012, when Sam Berlow encouraged me to develop
a Grotesque family built around Trade Gothic’s “outliers”: two anomalous straight-sided weights that had little to do with the rest of Jackson Burke’s classic midcentury family.

May 2020

Gimlet Sans Black

A cheeky, squarish sans-serif companion for Gimlet

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Gimlet Sans is a Grotesque sans serif companion to my typeface Gimlet, which was in turn inspired by Georg Trump’s 1938 typeface Schadow. While superelliptical sans serifs can sometimes feel cold, Gimlet Sans harnesses Schadow’s unique blend of geometric clunkiness and organic spunkiness to add some bounce and liveliness to the mix.

PDF Specimen

Design Notes

Gimlet Sans is a Grotesque sans serif companion to my typeface Gimlet, which was in turn inspired by Georg Trump’s 1938 typeface Schadow.
While superelliptical sans serifs can sometimes feel cold, Gimlet Sans harnesses Schadow’s unique blend of geometric clunkiness and organic spunkiness to add some bounce and liveliness to the mix.
If this kind of constructed sans serif exists on a spectrum, with Eurostile on the sleek-verging-on-sterile side, and Ad Lib on the fun-but-a-little-too-goofy side, my hope is that Gimlet Sans lands right in the middle.

April 2020

Roslindale Deck

For sizes between text and display

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Roslindale is a text and display serif that takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry. De Vinne was an oldstyle that couldn’t shake its Victorian sensibilities. This Deck series is meant for uses that are between text and display, and includes four weights (Regular–Bold), accompanying Italics, and a variable font.

PDF Specimen

Design Notes

Roslindale family

My work on Roslindale Deck began several months ago, when Stephen Coles used Roslindale Text for the body text of Typographica’s Favorite Typefaces of 2018 (a worthwhile read, by the way!).
We thought that the text font looked nice and sturdy at smaller text sizes (say, 10–12pt or 14–16px), but started to look really clunky in the introductory paragraph that is set slightly larger (15pt or 20px). But this size is far too small for Roslindale Display, which is really optimized for headlines more than twice that size.
The solution? Something in between. Deck (or Dek) fonts have long been used by editorial designers for subheads and short summaries that sometimes appear directly below the headline of an article.
They are optimized to cover the nebulous middle ground between text (extended reading at small sizes) and display (short bursts of reading at large sizes).

Roslindale Deck is narrower and tighter than Roslindale Text, with a higher contrast between thicks and thins. Most of my time was spent making small tweaks to the pre-existing Text and Display families until I was happy with the interpolations between them.
Deck optical sizes are still relatively rare outside of editorial design—something that I hope will change as variable fonts with an Optical Size axis become more widespread.
Even though they may have started with a relatively specialized use in print newspapers and magazines, it seems to me that there are numerous use cases for medium-size-optimized fonts in contemporary typography, from the large text sizes used in many single-column blogs to blurbs, embedded tweets, and advertising copy.

March 2020

Dattilo DJR Expansion

Heavier weights for Forma’s slab serif cousin

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Dattilo DJR revives the slab serif counterpart to Forma, released between 1972 and 1974 by the renowned type foundry Nebiolo and created by a team of Italian designers led by the inimitable Aldo Novarese. Like Forma DJR, this revival attempts to bring new life to this bygone era of typography, embodying the peculiar collision of midcentury modernist idealism with the smudgy realities of metal, ink, and paper. With rounded corners and tapered serifs, this month’s offering explores the heavier side of the designspace, including Regular, Medium, Bold, and Black weights (not to mention a variable font).

PDF Specimen

Design Notes

Dattilo DJR revives the slab serif counterpart to Forma, released between 1972 and 1974 by the renowned type foundry Nebiolo and created by a team of Italian designers led by the inimitable Aldo Novarese.

Like Forma DJR, this revival attempts to bring new life to this bygone era of typography, embodying the peculiar collision of midcentury modernist idealism with the smudgy realities of metal, ink, and paper. With rounded corners and tapered serifs, the type- face pairs well with Forma DJR, but has a typewriter-influenced personality that is distinct from its neo-grotesque counterpart.

February 2020

Megabase

Wood type clunkiness meets space age funkiness

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Megabase is a display gothic with strong horizontal stress inspired by the clunkiness of 19th-century gothics like Gothic Bold and the space-age funkiness of 1970s designs such as Aldo Novarese’s Sintex and Bob Newman’s Zipper. Megabase goes beyond its forebears in emphasizing its horizontality; while most typefaces strive for an even typographic color, Megabase embraces its unevenness, allowing topheavy, bottomheavy, and diagonal forms to stick out like sore thumbs. The typeface offers several variants of especially disruptive letters, allowing the designer to calibrate these interruptions.

PDF Specimen

Design Notes

Megabase is a display gothic with strong horizontal stress inspired by the clunkiness of 19th-century gothics like Gothic Bold and the space-age funkiness of 1970s designs such as Aldo Novarese’s Sintex and Bob Newman’s Zipper.
The typeface goes beyond its forebears in emphasizing its horizontality; while most typefaces strive for an even typographic color, Megabase embraces its unevenness, allowing topheavy, bottomheavy, and diagonal forms to stick out like sore thumbs. The typeface offers several variants of especially disruptive letters, allowing the designer to calibrate these interruptions.

January 2020

Gimlet X-Ray

Discover the inner-workings of a variable font

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Gimlet X-Ray is an experimental version of my typeface Gimlet that showcases the internal mechanics of a variable font. It wears its insides on the outside, exposing the control points, Bézier curves, and spacing information that defines each letterform. Available as a color font in both COLR/CPAL and SVG flavors, it offers many ways to customize its appearance.

Demo Page

Design Notes

Gimlet X-Ray is an experimental version of my typeface Gimlet that showcases the internal mechanics of a variable font. It wears its insides on the outside, exposing the control points, Bézier curves, and spacing information that defines each letterform.
Available as a color font in both COLR/CPAL and SVG flavors, it offers many ways to customize its appearance.

December 2019

Zenith Slab

A simple set of Art Deco caps, but this time with slabs

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Zenith Slab DJR is a slab serif version of Zenith DJR, a set of Art Deco capitals based on a fire station inscription in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this design, each letter gets a single heavy stem, eschewing traditional weight distribution and enriching words with a distinctive rhythm. The slab serif version enhances Zenith’s Art Deco geometry with angular vertical serifs, which adds a sense of playfulness to the otherwise-spare design. Zenith’s chunky strokes and open spacing make it a perfect choice for headers and packaging.

PDF Specimen

Design Notes

Zenith Slab DJR is a slab serif version of Zenith DJR, a set of Art Deco capitals based on a fire station inscription in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this design, each letter gets a single heavy stem, eschewing traditional weight distribution and enriching words with a distinctive rhythm.

The slab serif version enhances Zenith’s Art Deco geometry with angular vertical serifs, which adds a sense of playfulness to the otherwise-spare design.

Chunky strokes and open spacing make it a perfect choice for headers and packaging.

November 2019

Roslindale Display Ultra

A thick and juicy of my De Vinne-inspired serif

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Roslindale was inspired by De Vinne, a typeface attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner and released by the Central Type Foundry in 1892. Whether I like it or not, Roslindale Ultra may owe more to the bold, high-contrast, Victorian-inspired serifs of the International Typeface Corporation (better known as ITC) and designers such as Herb Lubalin, Tom Carnase, and Ed Benguiat that came to define American typography in the 1970s.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Roslindale was inspired by De Vinne, a typeface attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner and released by the Central Type Foundry in 1892.
Whether I like it or not, Roslindale Ultra may owe more to the bold, high-contrast, Victorian-inspired serifs of the International Typeface Corporation (better known as ITC) and designers such as Herb Lubalin, Tom Carnase, and Ed Benguiat that came to define American typography in the 1970s.

October 2019

Clavichord

A brittle Victorian blackletter

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Clavichord is a spindly textura inspired by a little-known American typeface from the mid 1800s called Cuneiform or Italian Text. The design is built around a repeating “sparkle” shape that is abstracted from the diamondlike forms made by a broadnib pen held at 45°. Any connection to broadnib calligraphy is severed after that, as the typeface descends into lavish Victorian excess with razor-thin hairlines and decorative ball terminals. The Optical Size axis keeps the hairlines at 0.5pt across a wide range of sizes.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Clavichord is a spindly textura inspired by a little-known American typeface from the mid 1800s called Cuneiform or Italian Text. The design is built around a repeating “sparkle” shape that is abstracted from the diamondlike forms made by a broadnib pen held at 45°.
Any connection to broadnib calligraphy is severed after that, as the typeface descends into lavish Victorian excess with razor-thin hairlines and decorative ball terminals. The Optical Size axis keeps the hairlines at 0.5pt across a wide range of sizes.

September 2019

Lautsprecher DJR

A revival of Jakob Erbar’s script/sans hybrid

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Lautsprecher DJR is a revival of Lautsprecher, a curious hybrid of cursive capitals and an italic sans-serif lowercase designed by Jakob Erbar. The typeface was released by German foundry Ludwig & Mayer in 1931, but disappeared from their catalog after Erbar’s death and the foundry’s destruction during the second World War. A specimen for this funky design recently made its way to Letterform Archive in San Francisco, and thanks to some cheerleading from Stephen Coles, I have attempted an interpretation for contemporary use.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Lautsprecher DJR is a revival of Lautsprecher, a curious hybrid of cursive capitals and an italic sans-serif lowercase designed by Jakob Erbar.
The typeface was released by German foundry Ludwig & Mayer in 1931, but disappeared from their catalog after Erbar’s death and the foundry’s destruction during the second World War.
A specimen for this funky design recently made its way to Letterform Archive in San Francisco, and thanks to some cheerleading from Stephen Coles, I have attempted an interpretation for contemporary use.

August 2019

Map Roman Compressed

Where elegant meets economic

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The Wonderground map is famous for saving the London Underground. But when I first encountered Gill’s work in La Jolla, the map that struck first most was actually Wonderground’s 1922 successor, “In the Heat of the Summer.” Titling caps feel elegant because we allow them to take up the space that they need. So what impressed me about the capitals on this particular map is that they managed to retain so much of their elegance despite being so aggressively crammed together.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

The Wonderground map is famous for saving the London Underground. But when I first encountered Gill’s work in La Jolla, the map that struck first most was actually Wonderground’s 1922 successor, “In the Heat of the Summer.”
Titling caps feel elegant because we allow them to take up the space that they need. So what impressed me about the capitals on this particular map is that they managed to retain so much of their elegance despite being so aggressively crammed together.

July 2019

Tortellini

Why do I always name my horizontal stress slabs after pasta?

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Tortellini is an extended slab serif with horizontal stress. Originally intended as a wide companion for Pappardelle, it took on a life of its own as I incorporated more and more aspects of the Extended French Antique typefaces of the 19th century. The resulting typeface has wider proportions and thinner hairlines than its predecessors, enlivened by a funky mix of squared-off slabs and bouncy, elastic rounds.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Tortellini is an extended slab serif with horizontal stress. Originally intended as a wide companion for Pappardelle, It took on a life of its own as I incorporated more and more aspects of the Extended French Antique typefaces of the 19th century.
Receiving wider proportions and thinner hairlines than its predecessors, enlivened by a funky mix of squared-off slabs and bouncy, elastic rounds.
As the letters get wider, the slab serifs grow longer. Letters with asymmetrical serifs (like i and u) become even more asymmetrical and start to feel weird alongside the symmetrical letters (like x and o).

June 2019

Forma DJR Chiaroscuro

Pushing my Forma revival to the extremes of Light and Dark

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Based on metal type found by Indra Kupferschmid, this interpretation captures the rounded corners, tapered stems, and subtle quirks that were byproducts of the printing process. These new “Chiaroscuro” styles go beyond the original weights to explore the extremes of Light and Dark in Forma DJR’s designspace.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Forma DJR revives Forma, the stylish sans serif released in 1968 by the renowned type foundry Nebiolo and created by a team of Italian designers led by the inimitable Aldo Novarese.

Publications designer Roger Black has admired the design for years, so he commissioned DJR to revive it for his 2O13 redesign of Hong Kong Tatler. Based on metal type found by Indra Kupferschmid, this interpretation captures the rounded corners, tapered stems, and subtle quirks that were byproducts of the printing process. These new “Chiaroscuro” styles go beyond the original weights to explore the extremes of Light and Dark in Forma DJR’s designspace.

May 2019

Bild Widths

An impactful Gothic in four widths (and a variable font)

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Bild is a straight-sided sans inspired by two outlier styles found in Trade Gothic, Bold and Condensed No. 20. These styles stand apart from the majority of Jackson Burke’s famous midcentury grot, with a clunky rigidity more in line with Alternate Gothic or Railroad Gothic. Back in 2012, Sam Berlow suggested an entire family stemming from these outliers, and I’ve been toying with the idea ever since.

Every bit as dense and blocky as the original, these new styles take on a rhythm now that things aren’t so squished together. In order to maintain this density, the stroke weight gets significantly thicker as the design gets wider.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Bild is a straight-sided sans inspired by two outlier styles found in Trade Gothic, Bold and Condensed No. 20. These styles stand apart from the majority of Jackson Burke’s famous midcentury grot, with a clunky rigidity more in line with Alternate Gothic or Railroad Gothic. Back in 2012, Sam Berlow suggested an entire family stemming from these outliers, and I’ve been toying with the idea ever since.
Every bit as dense and blocky as the original, these new styles take on a rhythm now that things aren’t so squished together. In order to maintain this density, the stroke weight gets significantly thicker as the design gets wider.

April 2019

Polliwog

A whimsical set of Jugendstil capitals

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Polliwog’s Art Nouveau-style capitals are inspired by the work of German artist Max Joseph Gradl. Rather than adopting the oranmental excess of Gradl’s original, this typeface suggests that all you need is a single drop of that proto-psychedelic Jugendstil energy to create a compelling rhythm. Intended for short bursts of novelty text, Polliwog juxtaposes straight stems with broad, swooping curves that flatten out abruptly as they hit the tops and bottoms of letters. This creates a clumping in weight that is echoed by the softened and tapered stroke endings, giving a lively wobble to an otherwise-skeletal design. 

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Polliwog’s Art Nouveau-style capitals are inspired by the work of German artist Max Joseph Gradl. Rather than adopting the oranmental excess of Gradl’s original, this typeface suggests that
all you need is a single drop of that proto-psychedelic Jugendstil energy to create a compelling rhythm. Intended for short bursts of novelty text, Polliwog juxtaposes straight stems with broad, swooping curves that flatten out abruptly as they hit the tops and bottoms of letters.
This creates a clumping in weight that is echoed by the softened and tapered stroke endings, giving a lively wobble to an otherwise-skeletal design. 

March 2019

Gimlet Banner

A high-contrast cut of Gimlet for the largest of sizes

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Gimlet Banner is a funky quirkhorse workhorse inspired by Georg Trump’s 1938 typeface Schadow. At the behest of Nick Sherman, I reimagined the oddball serif as an energetic contemporary workhorse, and this Banner exploration raises the thick/thin contrast to new heights. A multifaceted series that speaks with a singular voice, Gimlet is a rare find: a typeface that is as funky as it is functional.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Gimlet Banner is a funky quirkhorse workhorse inspired by Georg Trump’s 1938 typeface Schadow. At the behest of Nick Sherman, I reimagined the oddball serif as an energetic contemporary workhorse, and this Banner exploration raises the thick/thin contrast to new heights.
A multifaceted series that speaks with a singular voice, Gimlet is a rare find: a typeface that is as funky as it is functional.

February 2019

Nickel Gothic Wide

Width, heft, strength, style

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Nickel Gothic Wide is a stocky grotesque based on lettering found on the same 1918 Chinese banknote its serifed counterpart Nickel. It retains the squarish forms and closed apertures of the serifed design, but its significantly bolder weight and wider proportions endow it with an intense energy of its own. Despite the fact that it is based on lettering from over a century ago, it has overtones of the midcentury sans serifs like Microgramma/Eurostile as well as squared gothics form the ’70s like Neographik and Serpentine.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Nickel Gothic Wide is a stocky grotesque based on lettering found on the same 1918 Chinese banknote its serifed counterpart Nickel.
It retains the squarish forms and closed apertures of the serifed design, but its significantly bolder weight and wider proportions endow it with an intense energy of its own.
Despite the fact that it is based on lettering from over a century ago, it has overtones of the midcentury sans serifs like Microgramma/Eurostile as well as squared gothics form the ’70s like Neographik and Serpentine.

January 2019

Roslindale Variable Italic

Exploring the space between slant and italic-ness

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A sloped Roman was not enough for Roslindale. Like De Vinne before it, Roslindale combines a rational structure typical of the Victorian era with echoes of historicized “oldstyle” shapes. And because Roz has a foot in both the “modern” and “oldstyle” worlds, I felt that its Italic should as well.

Italics can have an especially complicated relationship with their companion Romans. This is because they can differ from the Roman not only in slope, but in cursiveness as well.

Design Notes

A sloped Roman was not enough for Roslindale. Like De Vinne before it, Roslindale combines a rational structure typical of the Victorian era with echoes of historicized “oldstyle” shapes. And because Roz has a foot in both the “modern” and “oldstyle” worlds, I felt that its Italic should as well.

Italics can have an especially complicated relationship with their companion Romans. This is because they can differ from the Roman not only in slope, but in cursiveness as well.

December 2018

Dattilo DJR Banner Extra Light

An Extra Light weight from Forma’s slab serif cousin

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Forma and Dattilo share an interesting history as the product of a committee of eight prominent Italian graphic designers led by Nebiolo’s art director, Aldo Novarese. The struggling foundry assembled this committee to create a new “universal” typeface that would compete with the likes of Helvetica and Univers. Indra Kupferschmid documented this unusual tale of design-by-committee in an article that accompanied Forma DJR’s release, and even more detail can now be found in a pair of recent articles by Alessandro Colizzi. Just like Forma, Roger has admired the design for decades, even commissioning a phototype version from Jim Parkinson for a 1977 cover of Rolling Stone when the original metal was unavailable.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Forma and Dattilo share an interesting history as the product of a committee of eight prominent Italian graphic designers led by Nebiolo’s art director, Aldo Novarese.
The struggling foundry assembled this committee to create a new “universal” typeface that would compete with the likes of Helvetica and Univers. Indra Kupferschmid documented this unusual tale of design-by-committee in an article that accompanied Forma DJR’s release, and even more detail can now be found in a pair of recent articles by Alessandro Colizzi.
Just like Forma, Roger has admired the design for decades, even commissioning a phototype version from Jim Parkinson for a 1977 cover of Rolling Stone when the original metal was unavailable.

November 2018

Pappardelle Party

It’s a variable, stencil, multicolor horizontal-stress slab, sorry in advance

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Pappardelle Party expands on Pappardelle, a French Antique slab serif inspired by the modernist uses of horizontal stress in the twentieth century, particularly Herbert Matter’s branding for Knoll. This new stencil style further abstracts the design, complete with horizontal bridges that form bands across a line of text. It also combines color font technology, a variable axis, and OpenType contextual alternates to cycle through a sequence of four colors that changes position with each letter is typed.

Design Notes

Demo Page

Pappardelle Party expands on Pappardelle, a French Antique slab serif inspired by the modernist uses of horizontal stress in the twentieth century, particularly Herbert Matter’s branding for Knoll. This new stencil style further abstracts the design, complete with horizontal bridges that form bands across a line of text.
It also combines color font technology, a variable axis, and OpenType contextual alternates to cycle through a sequence of four colors that changes position with each letter is typed.

October 2018

Fern Micro

A chunky humanist text face

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Fern Micro is a Venetian oldstyle that is native to the screen. With exaggerated diagonal stress, Fern’s weight clumps in round strokes and chunky triangular serifs, giving it a rich texture that sparkles even at the smallest size. Its ribbonlike forms are modeled after the Renaissance faces of Nicolas Jenson as well as related twentieth century revivals such as Centaur and Dante.

Typeface

PDF Specimen

Fern is my attempt to bring the elegant ribbonlike letters of the Venetian oldstyle to a typeface that is native to the screen. I’ve been kicking it around for the past five or six years, but I never got around to releasing it.
In recent months I’ve been revising the design, adding characters, features, and kerning pairs in the hope that I can give it the proper release that I think it deserves. I am sending you Fern Micro’s Regular and Italic weights, designed for extended reading at small sizes.
I originally intended for Fern to be part of Font Bureau’s Reading Edge series, and it largely follows the approach of Turnip RE and the other RE faces: large x-height, low contrast, generous spacing, and oversized details that could stand up to the limitations of text rendering at the time.

Not only did I look at Nicolas Jenson’s prototypical Roman, but I spent a lot of time examining the letter shapes and textures of twentieth century interpretations such as Bruce Rogers’s Centaur and Giovanni Mardersteig’s Dante.
Fern’s Italic follows Dante’s model especially closely, combining a variety of angles into a unified design. What sets Fern apart is the complete exaggeration of the diagonal stress and the interesting texture that I was hoping would come in even the smallest of sizes and the harshest of onscreen conditions.

With weight clumped in the southwest and northeast, not to mention the strong triangular serifs, I tried to balance a sturdy and dense typographic color with the ribbonlike forms that the Venetian oldstyle is known for.
Fern Micro is different than most of my other Fonts of the Month in that it has been used a handful of times over the years, and I have had the benefit of learning by seeing how it was used. This includes a couple books, a poster series, the website for the excellent Song Exploder podcast, and most recently the super-valuable Vietnamese Typography resource by Donny Troung, who also consulted on Fern’s Vietnamese accents.

Even though type on screen has progressed far beyond where it was in 2012, I think that Fern can still be relevant to text typography today. My hope is that sending this to you will be a kick in the butt for me to return to the design and expand it into a useful family.
Text on the screen is a different story. It’s easy for these designs to get light and splotchy. Web designers frequently pass over these classics, opting for sturdier alternatives based on Baroque and Enlightenment Romans instead (or, let’s be honest, sans serifs).

September 2018

Bradley DJR

A fairytale blackletter

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Bradley DJR is a revival of Bradley, a typeface released by American Type Founders in 1895. It is based on Will H. Bradley’s cover for the Christmas edition of The Inland Printer magazine, and most records show that it was Hermann Ihlenburg who completed the design. Its simplified forms make it more accessible to readers who aren’t accustomed to blackletter, and this revival seeks to preserve its softness, descending caps, and distinctive storybook character.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Bradley DJR is a revival of Bradley, a typeface released by American Type Founders in 1895. It is based on Will H. Bradley’s cover for the Christmas edition of The Inland Printer magazine.
Most records show that it was Hermann Ihlenburg who completed the design. Its simplified forms make it more accessible to readers who aren’t accustomed to blackletter.
This revival seeks to preserve its softness, descending caps, and distinctive storybook character.

August 2018

Map Roman

Pristine titling caps from the illustrative maps of Max Gill

+ Free membership

Map Roman is an elegant set of capitals based on the lettering of MacDonald Gill, whose work included a variety of beautifully handlettered maps of London, England, and the world. After stumbling upon his work in a map museum, I tried my hand at a typographical interpretation that attempts to capture the liveliness and authority of his letterforms.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Map Roman is an elegant set of capitals based on the lettering of MacDonald Gill.
Beautifully handlettered maps of London, England, and the world were included in his work.
After stumbling upon his work in a map museum, I tried my hand at a typographical interpretation that attempts to capture the liveliness and authority of his letterforms.

July 2018

Rhody Expansion

Pushing this mechanical slab to light and heavy extremes

+ Free membership

Rhody is a stocky geometric slab with distinctive vertical serifs in unexpected places. Its jumping-off point was the cover of a 1952 garden calendar that I found in the Mölndals Stadsmuseum outside Gothenburg, Sweden. With narrow, straight-sided forms and curves, Rhody’s quirky, mechanical look is punctuated by extra-gappy inktraps as well as blocky forms of f, j, and t. The July 2018 edition adds Light, Medium, and Black weights to the Rhody family, as well as a bonus variable font for licensees of the February 2018 edition.

PDF Specimen

PDF Specimen

Rhody is a stocky geometric slab with distinctive vertical serifs in unexpected places. Its jumping-off point was the cover of a 1952 garden calendar that I found in the Mölndals Stadsmuseum outside Gothenburg, Sweden.
With narrow, straight-sided forms and curves, Rhody’s quirky, mechanical look is punctuated by extra-gappy inktraps as well as blocky forms of f, j, and t. The July 2018 edition adds Light, Medium, and Black weights to the Rhody family, as well as a bonus variable font for licensees of the February 2018 edition.

June 2018

Merit Badge

My first variable color font

+ Free membership

Merit Badge is a variable color font based on blocky modular letters found in a 1970’s boy scout guide. In contrast to the stark simplicity of its design, the font is technically complex, allowing for variation in weight and serif length, as well as for color to be applied to its three layers. These features make it perfect for animation and experimentation with emerging font technologies.

Design Notes

Demo Page

Merit Badge is a variable color font based on blocky modular letters found in a 1970’s boy scout guide. In contrast to the stark simplicity of its design, the font is technically complex, allowing for variation in weight and serif length, as well as for color to be applied to its three layers. These features make it perfect for animation and experimentation with emerging font technologies.

May 2018

Roslindale Light and Regular

As the stems get narrower, the serifs get sharper

+ Free membership

Roslindale is a text and display serif that takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry. Roslindale smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, making for a headline and text face that is eminently usable but still quite distinct. May’s offering includes two Condensed Display weights, Light and Regular, as well as a Bold companion to the text weights.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

May’s offering includes two Condensed Display weights, Light and Regular. It smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, making for a headline and text face that is eminently usable but still quite distinct.
Roslindale is a text and display serif that takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry.

April 2018

Rumpus Extended

Sharp, triangular serifs

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Rumpus Extended is a super-wide typeface with sharp Latin serifs. It is descended from Stephenson Blake’s 1883 Wide Latin, which contrasts super-pointy serifs with super-round forms. Rumpus keeps a bit of the wild side of other Latins, but isn’t as overtly circuslike. Unlike its predecessors, Rumpus has a distinctly humanist structure, evidenced by its interior corners and punctuated by its diamond shaped dots. And the sheer width of Rumpus Extended is enough to give significant heft to any message, no matter how short it may be.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Rumpus Extended is a super-wide typeface with sharp Latin serifs. It is descended from Stephenson Blake’s 1883 Wide Latin, which contrasts super-pointy serifs with super-round forms. Rumpus keeps a bit of the wild side of other Latins, but isn’t as overtly circuslike.
Unlike its predecessors, Rumpus has a distinctly humanist structure, evidenced by its interior corners and punctuated by its diamond shaped dots. And the sheer width of Rumpus Extended is enough to give significant heft to any message, no matter how short it may be.

March 2018

Output Sans Hairlines

A variable fonts match stroke weights across multiple sizes

+ Free membership

Output Sans Hairlines is a special cut of the thinnest weights of my upcoming release, Output Sans. While its cousin Input is tuned for code, Output is quieter and more versatile, with softer curves and tighter spacing, so it can better confront the demands of varied reading and interaction. With this prototype variable font, you can set the Optical Size axis to the same value as the font’s point size (or even better, your app or browser may do it for you), and the stroke weight will be roughly one point thick (between 34pt–166pt, anyway).

Design Notes

Output Sans Hairlines is a special cut of the thinnest weights of my upcoming release, Output Sans. While its cousin Input is tuned for code,
Output is quieter and more versatile, with softer curves and tighter spacing, so it can better confront the demands of varied reading and interaction. With this prototype variable font,
You can set the Optical Size axis to the same value as the font’s point size (or even better, your app or browser may do it for you), and the stroke weight will be roughly one point thick (between 34pt–166pt, anyway).

February 2018

Rhody

Slabs everywhere

+ Free membership

Rhody is a stocky geometric slab with distinctive vertical serifs in Supported Languages include: unexpected places. Its jumping-off point was the cover of a 1952 garden calendar that I found in the Mölndals Stadsmuseum outside Gothenburg, Sweden. With narrow, straight-sided forms and curves, Rhody’s quirky, mechanical look is punctuated by extra-gappy inktraps as well as blocky forms of f, j, and t.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Rhody is a stocky geometric slab with distinctive vertical serifs in Supported Languages include: unexpected places. Its jumping-off point was the cover of a 1952 garden calendar that I found in the Mölndals Stadsmuseum outside Gothenburg, Sweden.
With narrow, straight-sided forms and curves, Rhody’s quirky, mechanical look is punctuated by extra-gappy inktraps as well as blocky forms of f, j, and t.

January 2018

Extraordinaire

Slender capitals inspired by São Paulo’s Art Deco signage

+ Free membership

Extraordinaire is an adjustable hairline sans inspired by single-stroke lettering of the Art Deco period, particularly the signs that I saw on early 20th-century buildings in São Paulo, Brazil. Its uppercase descends below the baseline so that the small caps appear vertically centered, and the round endings of its strokes gives the face a breezy, informal feel. Designers can use its variable axes to maintain a consistent stroke weight across different sizes, or layer multiple shade distances together to create a variety of dazzling effects.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Extraordinaire is an adjustable hairline sans inspired by single-stroke lettering of the Art Deco period, particularly the signs that I saw on early 20th-century buildings in São Paulo, Brazil.
Its uppercase descends below the baseline so that the small caps appear vertically centered, and the round endings of its strokes gives the face a breezy, informal feel.
Designers can use its variable axes to maintain a consistent stroke weight across different sizes, or layer multiple shade distances together to create a variety of dazzling effects.

December 2017

Klooster

A fun uncial. A funcial?

+ Free membership

Klooster is a thick, broad titling face modeled after the uncial script. While the uncial script dates back to the fourth century, this rendition has its origins in a twentieth century ex-libris shown in D. Giltay Veth’s 1950 book Dutch Bookplates: A selection of modern woodcuts & wood engravings. Some letters resemble Roman capitals as we know them, while others lean towards the rounded forms destined to eventually become our lowercase. Bursting with energy, Klooster’s harsh angles contrast with its gestural curves.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Klooster is a thick, broad titling face modeled after the uncial script. While the uncial script dates back to the fourth century, this rendition has its origins in a twentieth century
ex-libris shown in D. Giltay Veth’s 1950 book Dutch Bookplates: A selection of modern woodcuts & wood engravings. Some letters resemble Roman capitals as we know them, while others lean towards the rounded forms destined to eventually become our lowercase.
Bursting with energy, Klooster’s harsh angles contrast with its gestural curves.

November 2017

Roslindale Text

A sharp oldstyle serif, reconsidered for text

+ Free membership

Roslindale Text is a serif for extended reading that takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry. De Vinne was an oldstyle that couldn’t shake its Victorian sensibilities, designed in a time that was so immersed in the upright Modern style that folks seemed to forget what diagonal stress actually looked like. Roslindale smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, flirting with the slickness of 1970s interpretations such as ITC Bernase. Sure it can be a bit cheesy at times, but aims for a creamy brie instead of a stinky bleu.

Design Notes

Like its headline companion, Roslindale Text takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a Victorian oldstyle with heavily bracketed serifs and a distinctive diagonal stress.
De Vinne was designed in the 1890s by Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry, and was named for the famed nineteenth century printer Theodore Low De Vinne.
I didn’t see much precedent out there for Italics in the De Vinne style, so as a result Roslindale Text’s italic is mostly improvised. I probably could have done more research, but sometimes it is nice to just get drawing.

The trickiest part of this design was striking the right balance between utility and flavor. I didn’t want to distill all of the De Vinne-ness out of this design, but I knew it needed to be palatable in paragraphs.
In addition to the italic, I also added small caps which are well-suited to the design’s Victorian charm. Overall, it is still very much a work in progress, but I feel like it is finally coming together.
Font of the Month Club has been mostly focused on display typography, and I hope that the members enjoyed this little departure into the realm of text.

October 2017

Pappardelle

Thick on the top and thick on the bottom

+ Free membership

Pappardelle is a French Antique slab serif inspired by the rationalized, modernist uses of horizontal stress in the twentieth century, particularly Herbert Matter’s branding for the furniture designer Knoll. Its vertical stems range from dense to delicate across the duplexing family, but its thick horizontal strokes always stay the same. Ample letterspacing will counterbalance Pappardelle’s condensed forms in a fresh and surprising way; think about adding some tracking to accentuate its stacatto rhythms.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Pappardelle is a French Antique slab serif inspired by the rationalized, modernist uses of horizontal stress in the twentieth century, particularly Herbert Matter’s branding for the furniture designer Knoll. Its vertical stems range from dense to delicate across the duplexing family, but its thick horizontal strokes always stay the same.
Ample letterspacing will counterbalance Pappardelle’s condensed forms in a fresh and surprising way; think about adding some tracking to accentuate its stacatto rhythms.

September 2017

Bild

+ Free membership

Bild builds on the features of Trade Gothic Bold and Trade Gothic Condensed No. 20, outliers in Jackson Burke’s famous midcentury grot. These weights are clunkier and narrower than the rest of the family, with echoes of Benton’s Alternate Gothic and ATF Railroad Gothic. Started in 2012 at the suggestion of Sam Berlow, Bild’s dense texture, narrow proportions, and straight-sided letterforms make it structured but not rigid. The typeface is named after the German word for “image” and was designed with a singular goal: to set a damn fine headline.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Bild builds on the features of Trade Gothic Bold and Trade Gothic Condensed No. 20, outliers in Jackson Burke’s famous midcentury grot. These weights are clunkier and narrower than the rest of the family, with echoes of Benton’s Alternate Gothic and ATF Railroad Gothic.
Started in 2012 at the suggestion of Sam Berlow, Bild’s dense texture, narrow proportions, and straight-sided letterforms make it structured but not rigid. The typeface is named after the German word for “image” and was designed with a singular goal: to set a damn fine headline.
I also tried to keep some balance of the rigid and organic forms in the typeface, contrasting straight-sided forms like c and p with the curves of s and a. My hope is that this will allow the typeface to walk the line between a “poster font” like Impact and a versatile sans serif.

August 2017

Crayonette DJR

Just a whole lot of Victorian weirdness

+ Free membership

Crayonette DJR is a revival of Crayonette, a typeface designed by Henry Brehmer and first issued by Philadelphia’s Keystone Type Foundry. Until now, this typeface has survived without a digital interpretation that does it justice. This delightfully quirky italic features horizontal stress, luxurious curves, and oversize swash capitals. Crayonette DJR retains the key features and proportions of the original, but improves its spacing and tames a few of the wilder letterforms. Use this typeface with care, and it won’t take too much to add a healthy dose of that weird and wonderful Victorian charm to your page or screen.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

This is a revival of Crayonette, a typeface designed by Henry Brehmer and first issued by Philadelphia’s Keystone Type Foundry.
Until now, this typeface has survived without a digital interpretation that does it justice. This delightfully quirky italic features horizontal stress, luxurious curves, and oversize swash capitals.
Crayonette retains the key features and proportions of the original, but improves its spacing and tames a few of the wilder letterforms. Use this typeface with care, and it won’t take too much to add a healthy dose of that weird and wonderful Victorian charm to your page or screen.

July 2017

Zenith DJR

Art deco capitals inspired by lettering on a Charlotte fire station

+ Free membership

Zenith DJR is a set of Art Deco capitals based on the inscription on a fire station in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this design, each letter gets a single heavy stem, eschewing traditional weight distribution and enriching words with a distinctive rhythm. Zenith also avoids the glitz and glam of Broadway, the famous contrasted sans, instead finding its voice in the stoic optimism of Art Deco geometry. Zenith’s chunky strokes and open spacing make it sturdy enough for smaller headers and extended inscriptional text, and its layerable inline can ensure that its unusual texture will truly shine.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Zenith DJR is a set of Art Deco capitals based on the inscription on a fire station in Charlotte, North Carolina. In this design, each letter gets a single heavy stem, eschewing traditional weight distribution and enriching words with a distinctive rhythm.

The glitz and glam of Broadway, the famous contrasted sans, instead finding its voice in the stoic optimism of Art Deco geometry.

Chunky strokes and open spacing make it sturdy enough for smaller headers and extended inscriptional text, and its layerable inline can ensure that its unusual texture will truly shine.

June 2017

Roslindale Display Condensed Bold

A sharp display serif following in the footsteps of De Vinne

+ Free membership

Roslindale is a text and display serif that takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry. De Vinne was an oldstyle that couldn’t shake its Victorian sensibilities, designed in a time that was so immersed in the upright Modern style that folks seemed to forget what diagonal stress actually looked like. Roslindale smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, flirting with the slickness of 1970s interpretations such as ITC Bernase. Sure it can be a bit cheesy at times, but aims for a creamy brie instead of a stinky bleu.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Roslindale is a text and display serif that takes its inspiration from De Vinne, a typeface named for the famed nineteenth century printer and attributed to Gustav Schroeder and Nicholas Werner of the Central Type Foundry.
De Vinne was an oldstyle that couldn’t shake its Victorian sensibilities, designed in a time that was so immersed in the upright Modern style that folks seemed to forget what diagonal stress actually looked like. Roslindale smooths out the clunkiness of the original and dials up the contrast, flirting with the slickness of 1970s interpretations such as ITC Bernase. Sure it can be a bit cheesy at times, but aims for a creamy brie instead of a stinky bleu.

May 2017

Nickel

A stocky engraver’s alphabet

+ Free membership

Nickel is a stocky engraver’s alphabet based on the inscription of a 1918 Chinese banknote. The font is the first offering in the Font of the Month Club!

In this face the traditionally round letters (like O and S) are straight-sided, as if chiseled from a block.

Meanwhile the traditionally straight letters (like H and N) are dominated by the sweeping curves of large, bracketed serifs. Nickel shares the monumentality of the lettering on today’s American currency, but its squarish forms add a peculiar strengh and energy with overtones of the 1970s classic typeface, Serpentine.

Design Notes

PDF Specimen

Nickel is a stocky engraver’s alphabet based on the inscription of a 1918 Chinese banknote.
In this face, the traditionally round letters (like O and S) are straight-sided, as if chiseled from a block.
Meanwhile, the traditionally straight letters (like H and N) are dominated by the sweeping curves of large, bracketed serifs. Nickel shares the monumentality of the lettering on today’s American currency, but its squarish forms add a peculiar strengh and energy with overtones of the 1970s classic typeface, Serpentine.

F.A.Q.

Is this club for real?

Yes! The club is a great way for me to share my work early and often, and a great way for you to diversify your font library at a minimal cost. I admit it’s a goofy concept, but I take it very seriously. I’ve been emailing out a font every month since May 2017…that’s 39 months of typographic goodness!

Can I get past issues of the club?

Yes! Most back issues are available for $24, which includes a free 3-month club membership. Once you’re a member, you can access other back issues for $12. Not a bad deal! If you’d like to see what’s included in any issue, feel free to grab a testing license, and note that some series such as Roslindale have been expanded and given a proper release at djr.com.

What are the fonts like?

Every month is different. Sometimes the fonts are one-off styles, other times they’re a piece of a larger family, an expansion of a previous release, or a variable font that includes multiple styles. Sometimes they’re a bit experimental, other times they are functional workhorses. Sometimes they’re caps-only, other times they’ll have a decked-out character set. (I do always try to make sure they are usable in all major European languages that use the Latin alphabet, and most have support for Vietnamese as well.) I will say this: whatever these fonts lack in completeness, they will make up for it in charisma!

What is the license like?

Club fonts are distributed under my standard Mini license, which permits use of the font on up to 3 desktop workstations, websites with up to 15,000 monthly web visitors, and 1 e-book/app. Unlike other subscription services, this perpetual license allows you to keep using the fonts long after your club subscription ends.

Ugh, subscriptions…

I hear you on this, which is why I made Font of the Month Club different than most subscriptions in two crucial ways:

  1. Recurring payments are 100% optional: you can order a yearlong subscription as a one-time purchase, and then re-up as often as you’d like.
  2. The fonts you get won’t disappear; every font I send comes with a perpetual license, so you can keep on using them long after your subscription ends.

Do I qualify for the discounted membership?

This is for you to determine. I truly believe that the $6/month full membership is a good deal and a fair price. But I also realize that capitalism is far from fair, and that not everyone has the resources to make the club a part of their monthly expenses, especially in a time of economic instability. I want this club to be inclusive of all font lovers; if you honestly cannot afford the full price, the discounted membership is for you.

I don’t have a credit card handy. Can I pay a different way?

Sure! I can accept non-renewing membership fees via PayPal, Venmo and other payment platforms. Just let me know what you’re paying for, and I’ll send you a code that you can use to activate your subscription.

Any other interesting outlets for display fonts?

This project was inspired by The Pyte Foundry and Photo-Lettering; you should check them out! I have also learned from Florian Hardwig that Georg Salden did something like this starting in 1972…wow! More recently, I also learned that Chank Diesel had a program of the same name that ran in the early 2000s. And most recently, Future Fonts launched with a bunch of in-progress display designs from talented designers.

Can you tell me what next month’s font will be?

Nope. Half of the fun is that you don’t know exactly what you’re signing up for!

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