New Additions: July 2020
31st July 2020
After a break, the Identifont Blog resumes this month in a slightly different format. From the hundreds of fonts we add to the Identifont database every month we chose a selection of the most interesting recent additions, and interviewed the designers about their approach to each design:
Franziska Weitgruber – Nikolai (from Fontwerk)
What were your influences in designing Nikolai?
During my time in Den Haag doing the master Type and Media at KABK I did a revival of Monotype Veronese. Veronese is the first corporate typeface Monotype developed, a machine-like, mechanized version of William Morris’s Golden Type, which again is a reinterpretation of Jenson’s examples of early Renaissance printing type. My revival of Veronese was rather cold and rigid, and the result of my project didn’t entirely satisfy me.
I was ambitious to do another revival of a Jenson a few years after graduating, and found a Jenson interpretation by Italian foundry Nebiolo. The design was intriguing in its wildness and vitality, especially the bold style, so I started from there, doing another version of a Jenson model. Nebiolo Jenson became a very loose inspiration, and overnight I changed pretty much everything and Nikolai started growing into a very display-like design, far away from the existing inspiration that triggered me in the first place.
What process of design led you from the bracketed serifs of Veronese to the spiky serifs of Nikolai?
The spiky serifs were introduced in a euphoric moment when I decided to switch from a rather low contrast text-like design to a high contrast display. I think the decision was triggered by the personal wish for a display serif for big sizes, bold poster compositions. Nikolai Condensed was a logical consequence of that, to allow bold headline settings. Often I take direction in the process influenced by wishes and expectations I have as a graphic designer, seeing the typeface as an end user.
Why did you call it Nikolai?
The name Nikolai was born from Nicolas (Jenson), with the ‘k’ being a crucial letter in the design. The ‘k’ also represents the spiky details in the design.
Paulo Goode – Audacious (from Paulo Goode)
Are there any other typefaces that you studied or influences you had in the development of Audacious?
My approach to type design is to sketch by hand, and once I have a basic alphabet I use the Glyphs app on my Mac to digitise it. I then take a screenshot of a few words and use MyFonts’ What the Font to identify it to see how original my drawings are. With Audacious, the suggestions that were offered included various cuts of Caslon, so that became a point of reference. I also referred to Garamond for inspiration for the figures.
At first sight Audacious looks similar to a classic Old Style typeface, such as Adobe Jenson, but when you look closer it has several quirky features of its own, such as the asymmetrical serifs on the ‘M’ and ‘N’. What was your inspiration for these? Are there any other individual features you added?
While sketching Audacious I was thinking about flamboyant friends from my past whose quirks and eccentricities made them special to me, and I wanted to capture some of their personality in the typeface. This led to some exaggerated forms in the sketching process, such as the asymmetric wedge serifs you refer to. I also accentuated the off-kilter bowls and counters. Overall it made for a distinctively unusual typeface that hopefully embodies the personality of its influences.
Audacious includes a set of Display styles; what is your recommended range of point sizes for choosing between the normal and display styles?
The Display styles are intended for use at larger sizes, depending on the application. They are designed to appear more elegant, and the contrast in the letterforms is emphasised.
The fonts contain a number of swashes as OpenType stylistic alternates; for example, as well as the default ‘Q’ there are four alternates. How do you select between these, or is it automatic, depending on context?
These are activated by personal choice with Stylistic Sets, rather than automated contextual alternates which would be more suited to a script typeface. There are 182 alternates within each Audacious font.
Cosimo Lorenzo Pancini – Erotique (from Zetafonts)
It’s a sign of the originality of Erotique that I’m finding it hard to find any similar fonts to compare it with on Identifont. The only other font that seems to have characteristics in common is your own font Lovelace. Was it developed from that?
You’re absolutely right! We had put a lot of work and thought into Lovelace, but we were not so happy with the result. We wanted to explore the elusive qualities of victorian typefaces and cursive scripts, with the aim of creating a design that looked feminine in an assertive and self conscious way. With Erotique, we decided to go fully display and drop all readability concerns; Erotique is a sexually liberated Lovelace. In addition to the calligrapher Maria Chiara Fantini we added to the team another calligrapher, Solenn Bordeaux, and gave everybody the freedom to experiment with sensuous ligatures and curvy excess.
You've described Erotique as having “Phemister-like Oldstyle letter shapes”. Are you referring to his typeface Bookman, and which letter shapes do you mean?
Yes, we were definitely inspired by his work, not so much by Bookman, but rather by the low contrast and sharp half-arrow serifs of his Modernised Old Style typeface. Another important influence for Lovelace and Erotique was Ronaldson, designed by the Scottish punchcutter Alexander Kay in 1884. One characteristic letter is the upper-case ‘T’ with its wide-spreading arms. It’s a shape that you can also find in typefaces by Ed Benguiat like Tiffany or Benguiat which gives them an eighties look.
Erotique Alternate seems to take the sensuousness of Erotique and turn the dial up to 11. Was that your design objective?
One of the ideas behind Erotique was to have two different rhythmic patterns. At first you get the typographic rhythm, with its vertical lines and round shapes. And then you feel the wave-like calligraphic flow that runs inside this geometric cage, with a sort of rippling effect. You can see it clearly in the way the ‘ea’ or ‘ca’ connections create a fluid motion, that actually bends some letters like ‘i’, ‘j’, or ‘r’. When designing alternate forms for the upper case, Maria Chiara experimented a lot with this language. In the end we liked the result so much that we decided it deserved to be made into a stand-alone version of the font, Erotique Alternate. We also added two extra dingbats fonts, one for the repeating pattern Ornaments and one for the monoline Flourishes.
On your website you say that you came up with the design of Glance Slab by accident, when designing the ‘n’. How did you decide how far to take the unconnected elements, to keep an overall consistency and avoid it becoming a stencil typeface?
Right, this discovery was probably the best possible accident during sketching mode. At that point, I was really struggling with how to get on with this design. Right after my little revelation, I got carried away with adding these stencil elements to as many letters as possible. Of course, this ended up a total wreck. I then decided to reduce the stencil effect to the points where a curve meets a straight stem, a bit like ink traps. This process was all about optical consistency, so I was bound to make some exceptions to this rule, especially where a slab serif was present. So, it was essentially a basic system of optically evaluated rules and exceptions that guided the design. That way, it couldn’t have resulted in an actual stencil typeface.
Did you have any other typefaces as influences, or did the design develop entirely from the initial chance discoveries?
When I decided to regard the ‘stencil elements’ as ink traps, I found myself in a category with plenty of other comparable typefaces. I guess adding ink traps to a sans-serif is somewhat of a trend, starting maybe one or even two years ago. In theory, I don’t think you need ink traps in typefaces any more, except maybe for really, really small point sizes. Rather than having a functional value, ink traps nowadays serve as a design feature that will make the typeface more exciting to look at, especially when set really large.
Talking about typefaces similar to Glance Slab, I’d like to mention Groundbeat by Typerepublic, which I discovered when Glance Slab was virtually finished. Both typefaces share some basic structures, but they are also very different upon closer inspection. So it’s two similiar principles that were developed independently from each other at the same time: I think that’s quite nice.
To my eye the gaps make headings look lighter and more graceful than with a more conventional slab serif, such as Adelle. Was that your intention?
That wasn’t planned in the beginning but turned out to be a pleasant side effect. The unconnected elements allow for some more white space within the lettershapes, so they definitely appear lighter. In contrast, my original intention was to bring in some calligraphic influences.
You also wrote that you are designing a matching sans-serif. How is that going?
It’s still at a very early stage. I do have a good set of lower-case letters, figures, and symbols, but the upper-case letters don’t quite fit in as of now. Overall, it will take some more time to finish, but in the end, Glance Sans will be a bigger release than Glance Slab.