Notes

Building Bild

As September winds down, I wanted to jot down a few notes on Bild, the chunky, narrow sans that I distributed to Font of the Month Club. (There are two more days left in the month, so sign up now and get your own copy!)

Specimen

If you look at Jackson Burke’s seminal Trade Gothic family, you will notice that a couple of the weights don’t quite fit in. They are clunkier and more condensed, with echoes of Alternate Gothic and ATF Railroad Gothic.

I originally started drawing Bild in 2012 when Sam Berlow suggested that I check out these weights to use as source material for a new design. I kind of took the freeform approach, but without much in the way of scans or specimens. Bild, the typeface that emerged from these sketches, builds upon the stylistic features of these outliers in the pursuit of a singular goal: to set dense, punchy headlines.

Sure there are already a lot of condensed sans serifs out there, but what I like about this one is that it walks the line between structured and organic. For every straight-sided curve or rigid shape present in the typeface, there is also a grotty detail to liven things up. Curvy shapes like the S or the bowl of the a break up Bild’s mechanical regularity. The closed-in terminals vary in length, and not one of them ends on a true horizontal.

Specimen

Bild’s Black Compressed style is part of a larger series of widths and weights that has been sitting on my desktop for far too long. I’m hoping that my work on this preview weight will give me the kick in the butt I need to work on more of the typeface.

Oh, and one last thing: the name Bild isn’t a typo; it means image in German. Thanks to Indra Kupferschmid for suggesting it!

Specimen

On our road trip back from ATypI Montreal, Jill, Kent, and I had the pleasure of visiting the World’s Tallest File Cabinet in Burlington, Vermont.

Cabinet

More cabinet

My ATypI 2017 talk: How NOT to draw accents

This past week, I was happy to give this lecture at the ATypI conference in Montreal. Some resources and notes are below.

Here are links to the resources I mentioned in the talk:

I should also correct myself by saying that even though that “Münstermann” sign shares the u/n identification issue found it Kurrentschrift, it is not actually done in that style. Sorry about that!

Also, multiple people approached me after my talk and mentioned that in some languages/regions, one might see accents simplified due to the lack of availability of type supporting those accents. And of course, some simplifications that I showed will make sense in some languages but not in others.

Finally, huge thanks to ATypI for this opportunity, and to the folks that helped provide images and insights, including: Rui Abreu, Marina Chaccur, Florian Hardwig, Indra Kupferschmid, Albert-Jan Pool, Nick Sherman, Grzegorz Rolek, and Donny Troung.

Reviving Crayonette

Crayonette DJR

Crayonette, was designed by Henry Brehmer in 1889 and first issued by Philadelphia’s Keystone Type Foundry. It is a weird and wonderful Victorian design that, to my knowledge, had never received a suitable digital revival.

I have come across this face time and time again, always appreciating it but never knowing what to do with it. When I encountered it again recently in the type collection of Bowne Printers, I was convinced that a digital revival needed to happen.

An usual design

Crayonette in Keystone Specimen

Crayonette in Keystone Type Foundry’s 1906 Abridged Specimen Book

I distributed my version of Crayonette as August’s Font of the Month. And I quickly got to see that others shared an enthusiasm for the design, even if they also didn’t know what to do with it.

PYTE Foundry creator Ellmer Stefan informed me that Crayonette actually had roots in a different design:

And thanks to research by Indra Kupferschmid, I also found out that Crayonette came in an Inline version as well, and also appeared under various other names such as Almah, Columbian Italic, Fantaisie, Italienne Cursiv, and Zierschrift.

No matter what you call it, Crayonette is a charmer. The unique texture of the lowercase is created by the combination of a strong horizontal stress, tons of swashy serifs, and wavy curves. I found some phototype interpretations as well as a autotraced digital version, but nothing that I felt did justice to the design.

The original design was spaced in a way that allowed it to succeed without kerning. My revival tightens and regularizes the spacing a bit, and tames a few of the more-offbeat letterforms that I thought might be objectionable to contemporary eyes (I assume letters such as F and j were drawn that way to avoid kerning issues). All of the originals exist as alternates, and I appreciate mixing them in.

Crayonette DJR alts

While my revival of Forma involved a great deal of interpretation, I took a much more hands-off approach with Crayonette. The goal of this revival was just to let Crayonette be Crayonette.

I realize that Crayonette might not be the easiest font to imagine in any given design, but I’m hoping that club members will find some interesting and unexpected ways to put it to use. Today is the final day of August, so it is the last day to pick up Crayonette DJR by joining the Font of the Month Club!

Crayonette DJR

Bonus! More Italics with Horizontal Stress

Since Crayonette DJR is a straight-up revival, I want to close this post by giving a shout out to three amazing contemporary designs that not only carry on the tradition of the horizontally-stressed italic, but actually are breaking new ground. Temeraire draws inspiration from Crayonette as well as nineteenth century English gravestones, while Chimera and Salvaje seem to evolve from the personal drawing styles of their creators. These designs are not yet released, but they are certainly worth checking out:

Temeraire by Quentin Schmerber

Temeraire

Chimera by Maria Doreuli

Chimera

Salvaje by Cristian Vargas

Salvaje