New Additions: September 2021
30th September 2021
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:
P22 Graciosa is an elegant upright script typeface based on designs by Carlos Winkow, a German type designer who lived and worked in Spain in the 1900s. Did you have access to his original drawings, or did you work from metal type?
We had access to the original lead typefaces in a wide range of different sizes, and printed the whole alphabets on our typographic Platen Press. These high resolution scans, together with a type specimen from the Richard Gans catalog, were our starting point. We redrew all the letters and created additional ones to build a character set big enough to work in a wide range of languages. As far as we could tell from our research there are no original drawings left from the creation of the lead typefaces.
The family includes a Black version, an open version called White, an engraved version called Gris, and a Multi version that can be overlaid for multi-coloured lettering. Were these envisaged by Carlos Winkow, or did you extend the family to include them?
In 1927 the type foundry Richard Gans, where Carlos Winkow worked, created lead type for the regular typeface Graciosa, and the engraved version Graciosa Gris. In 2014 I created a digital version of these two typefaces. In 2015 I enlarged the type family with the Multi font to give more freedom to the graphic designer while using these typefaces. The original concept of a two color letterpress print (100% ink and 50% ink due to the engraving) is translated to our digital world, where both colors can be chosen individually for more flexibility.
It’s a sign of the individuality of Graciosa that I’m finding it difficult to find any other similar fonts to compare it with on Identifont. Are you aware of any other typefaces that influenced Wincow?
Graciosa was created in 1927 as a kind of revival of typefaces from an earlier epoque. The strange thing about it is that the uppercase letters are based on gothic initials, while the lowercase letters have a more calligraphic, humanist approach. It is also remarkable that it uses an “one-eyed a” already two years before the Futura typeface was published. I don’t know of any similar typeface.
Where did the idea for Seiva originate? Was it designed for a particular project?
Indeed, I started it for a custom type project for a women’s shoes fashion brand in early 2020. The goal was to express elegance, but not in a traditional way. Instead, it needed to convey a sense of empowerment, of breaking free and standing its own ground. The letterforms reflect this by mixing a conventional construction dressed with a contrast that defies traditional rules: letters ‘o v x y’, have almost no contrast; hairlines of ‘e f t w’ have extreme contrast, while most of the others play along somewhere in between to create a coherent yet unusual texture.
We presented this idea with another six to the client, and I remember cheering when they discarded this option because I knew it could become something amazing if we had full creative control.
My colleague Ana Laydner then led the project and expanded this into the marvellous family it came to be. We had many brain trust sessions, together with our design team, to discuss design decisions, plus multiple design reviews to get every detail just right.
Seiva provides three variants: Text, Display, and Poster. Do you consider these to be like optical sizes in other families, or would you like them to be thought of as three different styles that can be used in combination at any sizes?
You’re precisely right, they’re optical sizes. Poster style shines with very thin hairlines, but it breaks even on mid sizes; the Text version is surprisingly functional even down to 8 points, and the Display sits in the middle ground between these extremes. But the true beauty of this project is to seize the variable font functionality, where the designer can pick the thickness of the hairlines with the precision of a slider. Please download the test drive and have a play yourself: see Seiva on Fabio Haag Type.
A feature which makes Seiva instantly identifiable is the quirky lower-case ‘g’; what was the inspiration for its design?
We are huge believers that the ‘g’ has the potential to create expressiveness like no other letter without jeopardizing legibility. A study from Johns Hopkins University revealed that people have a hard time identifying the correct structure of the double-story ‘g’ (which we often see in print), despite being fluent readers. The researchers suggest this could be because, although we are used to reading it, we don’t handwrite this form, but the single-story one. This lack of certainty, I believe, provides a rich playground for us, typeface designers, to push the limits without breaking functionality. The ‘g’ of Seiva follows this recipe, as we have done other times, like on Margem, for example.
Escaut is a modern-looking flowing handwriting font with a very relaxed appearance. Did you design it with any particular applications in mind?
No, I didn't really design Escaut for any specific purpose. Actually I don't think about what a font can be used for, because I believe that could limit me. I’m often inspired by what I see around me, on supermarket packaging, magazines, street signs, in the works of ancient calligraphers or contemporary artists, or simply in the writing of someone close to me. So no. I just wake up one day wanting to do this or that, and I do it.
The fonts that I produce are not for me, they are for other designers to use in their work. They are the ones who will choose the appropriate font for their application, and will use it as they want. I try to design with a wide range of styles, and the designer who is looking for a calligraphic font will find in my work a lot of material to choose from.
Escaut has the characteristic changes of contrast that make it look like it was drawn with an ink pen. Did you draft the characters on paper with a physical pen, and if so, what type of pen did you use?
Besides being a graphic designer, I studied calligraphy and fine arts. When I started designing fonts I used to draw dozens of examples of each letter on paper. I used different papers, more or less absorbent, and different writing tools. I have thousands of pencils, brushes, and pens of different kinds in my drawers. I also looked on the internet for information about making tools that would help my calligraphy, with unusual objects, tree branches, straw, cans, wood, etc., or I invented them myself. I studied in depth what the stroke of each tool was like, how it reacted if I loaded it with more or less ink, on different papers or materials.
Today I no longer need to do that artisan process. I decide how I want the font and imagine what it will be like. Only if I can't figure it out that way, I help myself by going back to the process of crafts, tools, and paper, but it is very rare. In the case of Escaut I wanted it to be a script made with a marker with a lot of ink, which leaves a charge of ink when the hand stops moving.
You’ve designed nearly 100 script fonts for Eurotypo, covering a wide range of styles from classic to modern. What would you say is the key secret to designing a connected font that looks handwritten?
I think that for a calligraphic font to look real, you need to study calligraphy and observe a lot. The study of calligraphy and fine arts were very important to me; they helped me to soften my hand, because the writing has to flow.
Calligraphic writing has a fluid character, and for it to look good, it has to look real, so it is important to include ligatures in calligraphic fonts. I see a lot of calligraphic fonts with errors in the ligatures; the letters are not linked correctly, so the flow is lost. When you write by hand, you create ligatures automatically without thinking; for example, it is not the same to link an ‘s’ to a ‘t’ than to another ‘s’. When designing the letter ‘s’ it is impossible for a single design to be used to link it with all the letters, so it is necessary to add special ligatures. You can’t do all of them, but at least a good selection of the most used ones.
Another very important consideration is to make sure that what you design is readable. My work is not that of a calligraphic artist, who makes a work more related to art where the aesthetic is ahead of the functional. As a graphic designer, my fonts are used for communication, so form and its function are closely linked. The creative-expressive cannot detract from the readable and comprehensible.
Did you create Gosha Sans for a particular project, and what inspired you to design it?
It was a self-initiated project. It was actually one of my first real attempts at creating the Cyrillic alphabet in one of my fonts. So in that sense I wanted to give the font a Russian name and feel. That’s why some of the letters have square shoulders, to mimic square shapes sometimes found in Cyrillic characters. I did a lot of research on the subject and on the different aspects of this unique alphabet to try to distill its essence. I also created the imagery and visuals to go along with that concept and name.
Are there any other typefaces that influenced you in the development of Gosha Sans?
Honestly, not really. But I can tell you that, in general, I try to look at trends and patterns in the graphic design community and highlight some of the key type features that emerge from all this information. At the time, I felt hard angles paired with some quirky shapes would be a good fit for the graphic design currents at the time while keeping in mind (like all Pangram Pangram fonts) that it has to be timeless and versatile and not too rooted in one specific moment in time.
Gosha Sans has a bit of a split personality. Some of the characters, like the ‘A, ‘B’, ‘X’, and ‘Y’ are typical of a geometric sans-serif. On the other hand the ‘J’, ‘R’, ‘a’, ’t’, and ‘y' are distinctly unusual. Were you purposely trying to create a conflict in its design?
As I mentioned above, I think this duality gives the font just enough quirkiness to make it unique without straying too far from being a truly useful typeface that can be used in many settings. These “visually challenging” cues give depth to the font and create a sense of freshness every time you see the typeface in a new context. The diversity of projects using Gosha Sans since its launch prove exactly that! (See Gosha Sans on Fonts in Use.)
I'd like to add that I solicited the help of collaborator Alex Slobzheninov to help with the authenticity of the curves, contrast, and spacing.