New Additions: End of Year 2017
29th December 2017
For this double issue of New Additions Stephen Coles digests the deluge of recent releases, covering the most interesting output of late 2017.
In 2015, Linotype issued Demos Next, a revision of Demos, one of the first designs by the duly celebrated Gerard Unger. Demos’ serif companion, Praxis, has now been given the same treatment, redrawn, and given new italic (rather than oblique) and condensed styles as Praxis Next. Unger’s design has survived remarkably well. Were it not for the soft joints and corners, it could convincingly pass as a contemporary release. The open apertures and large x-height are well suited for small text on screen – in fact, Praxis could be considered the proto Verdana.
Shabby Chic is the result of a trained calligrapher – Giuseppe Salerno – grabbing the driest brush pen in his desk and simply writing, loose and free, yet with the inevitable control garnered from years of experience. Despite unusually wide spacing and a mildly bouncing baseline, the script has a natural and consistent rhthym, with nondistracting irregularity and varying connections that are thoughtfully placed (as long as standard ligatures are switched on).
There is no shortage of hand-drawn sans serif fonts. After all, sketching a simple monoline sans doesn’t require too much skill. What is less common are hand-drawn serifs with contrast. Farmhand is among the more sophisticated options in the “chalkboard rustic” category that continues its decade-long run of popularity. There is just enough roughness in its contours to convey a handmade look at most sizes. While small caps only, the family offers some versatility, with a few underlined alts (though only vowels, for some reason), centered/bordered catchwords, an inline style, and the same choices in a sans version.
Franciszek Otto’s take on this style is more written than drawn, a fairly straightforward digitization of informal pointed-pen lettering. Wola is much looser (i.e. more obviously handmade) than Ladd’s fonts, and thus less versatile, but what it lacks in polish it makes up in language support: Cyrillic and Greek are included.
The high contrast of a Bodoni/Didot calls for optical sizes, and digital typographers are fortunate to now have many choices in the category, most notably ITC Bodoni, H&Co Didot, Essonnes, Le Jeune, Parmigiano, Trianon, and Yo Andy. Paulo Goode’s new Didonesque joins the ranks of multi-size Didones, supplying three masters (standard, Display, and Ghost). For me, the design doesn’t work as well as premium alternatives – the curved strokes in Didonesque’s ‘v, w, y’, for instance, feel at odds with the rest of the classically restrained design – but shoppers might appreciate Didonesque’s relatively low cost. With that in mind, Didonesque Ghost is the most compelling offering among entry-level Didones: extreme contrast in five weights, complete with italics, small caps, and petite caps which can be mixed with the equal-height lowercase for a unicase effect.
French Bulldog Script is the latest of many collaborations between Ale Paul and lettering artists of South America. This is Carolina Marando’s fourth typeface for Sudtipos, and I think it’s her most interesting, replete with unexpected heavy strokes of the brush.
Luis Bandovas’s Autor follows his accomplished debut from 2014, Liszt FY, which similarly combines geometric and humanist ideas. Here, the details are sharper, and the overall draftsmanship is of a higher caliber. It reminds me of a personal favorite, the underappreciated Altis by Jarno Lukkarila. In fact, some shapes, like the distinctive ‘g’, may be too close to Altis for comfort, but Autor is otherwise an original (if tamer) design.
Ksenia Belobrova burst on the scene in 2016 with several self-published scripts which were well received here and on Typographica. The Northern Block smartly recognized the young talent and became the first foundry to issue her work. Eldwin Script is essentially a straight-laced version of last year’s Jonesy, with the added benefit of six weights versus one. Personally, I think too much of Jonesy’s buoyant spirit was deflated for this release, but clearly the public disagrees: Eldwin is currently #11 on MyFonts’ Hot New Fonts list.
Like Berton Hasebe’s Platform, the concept behind Yoann Minet’s and Bureau Brut’s Dr is to construct geometric letters with a sort of engineered naivité, abandoning some of the optical corrections that a professional type designer is trained to make. The effect is intentionally mechanical, with curved lines surgically bonded straight to straight ones. Still, there are very human considerations – specially drawn italics, small caps, 3/4-height “oldstyle” figures, and broad language support – that give the family typographic utility.