New Additions: March 2016
1st April 2016
We add hundreds of fonts to the Identifont database every month. Most of these are recent releases, and some are simply new acquisitions from foundries who were not yet represented on our site. Stephen Coles gives his take on the most interesting recent additions.
Ryoichi Tsunekawa is a rare bird: a young Japanese type designer with hundreds of Latin typefaces under his belt. His type career began over a decade ago when he whipped up freeware fonts in his spare time while working as an architect. He was inspired mostly by vintage signs or decorative styles from the Victorian, Art Deco, and Grunge periods, which lead to gobs of retro display faces, some better than others, but most with a strong and lively character. In the last couple of years, however, after racking up experience in nearly every category of type design, Tsunekawa has turned away from novelty one-offs to more sober sans serifs. He unleashed four of these extensive families in 2016 alone, which explains why he didn’t release any new fonts last year – he’s been busy. What they all have in common is a cross-breeding of Grotesque, Geometric, and Humanist classifications to conjure faces that are clean, clear, and contemporary. These are conservative, practical fonts and there is nothing groundbreaking among them (Gomme Sans is the most original of the set), but it’s interesting to see a type designer evolve and mature. Tsunekawa’s next step may be to combine his love of animated eccentricity with fully functional, professional grade tools.
Hangulatin is just that: an attempt to fit the Latin writing system into the syllabic blocks of Hangul, the alphabet used to write Korean. It’s one of the more interesting designs to come from URW++ in many years, an invention that seems to have potential even beyond this initial English and German release. (I’m reminded of Typonine’s Balkan, which is a very different play on language, but has a similar stacking aesthetic.) So the idea is cool, but, unfortunately, the execution leaves a bit to be desired. While the overall letterform design is ok and the visual effect is appealing from a distance, the weight between glyphs is uneven, and the alignment of letters within some of the gyphs is off, making Hangulatin more like a proof of concept than a practical typeface. I’d love to see Anita Jürgeleit, a relative newcomer, take her fine idea to the next level in an improved version.
To me, Ludwig Übele is one of this decade’s most productive and consistently original makers of serious text type. He repeatedly appears on the Identifont blog (Brenta, Contemporary Sans) and Typographica where contributors typically commend work that demonstrates both the imagination of the designer and the benefit to the user. One worthy face that hasn’t been mentioned in either venue is 2014’s Riga, a compact but open sans serif with a lot of warmth and freshness despite its utilitarian purpose. Riga Screen is a useful alternative with wider forms and looser spacing suitable for small text on screen, which it delivers quite well as evidenced in the 9–14px samples of Webtype’s specimen. (One misstep, however: that US dollar sign is a bit too unusual, and could be misread by some Americans.)
Released this month, Kakadu could be considered a Grotesque variation on the Humanist Riga. Their relationship is easy to see in Identifont’s comparison tool. Kakadu is slightly wider and squarer, with terminals that curl inward, and its italic is less calligraphic. Some of these characteristics might make it even more suitable for web use than Riga Screen. In fact it isn’t unlike JAF Facit, a face that was designed and proofed specifically on screen, and proven on a variety of sites in the early years of webfonts.
There is no dearth of Caslons in digital form, but Maria Doreuli’s William is the first to offer three optical sizes (Kings Caslon from Dalton Maag has just two, and a more limited range of fonts). This is a particularly welcome feature for this style of typeface, especially one that aims to respect the original metal type. The range and detail of the companion ornaments is also impressive. This release, along with the recent Parmigiano and Uni Grotesk, tracks Typotheque’s evolution from a small foundry representing original typefaces from a small circle of designers, to a certifiable mid-size operation which now takes on extensive revivals and a variety of outside submissions.