New Additions: February 2015
9th March 2015
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 additions from February.
Modulated sans serifs are back in vogue! By “modulated” I mean that there is a visible difference between thick and thin strokes. This is a characteristic more commonly seen in serif type, but sans serifs like these were once familiar in advertising and poster type until Modernism took over in the 1960s. Now they are in again: see Condor, Timonium, Beausite, Darby Sans, and now Granville. Jean-Baptiste’s entry into this fray is by far the most idiosyncratic, and thus feels the most antique. Yet Granville is not a delicate trinket to be locked away in a display case: it is a truly useful family with the visual heft and character support to set proper text.
As the ability to produce, promote, and use alternates (contextual, stylistic, swash, etc.) has improved over the last few years, it is not surprising that the number of new releases that take advantage of these features has also increased. Of course, a font maker’s ability to generate extra glyphs does not mean they have the skill to draw them well. Wingman Brush is a case in point. The lettershapes are poorly made in many cases, and the spacing and connections between them are even more uneven. It’s clear that Hanneke Classen intended to convey raw brush strokes, but rather than emulating a signpainter’s or calligrapher’s brush, this work reveals its true nature as a digital font.
This is a story that is all too common of late: Before mastering the skill of drawing letters and then transforming those into a working font, amateur type designers skip ahead to extending the character set, producing alternate glyphs and generating multiple weights and styles — steps that should come only after developing a solid basic alphabet.
In some ways it seems natural to attach chunky slabs to DIN; the straight-laced German roadsign face was built with a basic geometric construction. In other ways, DIN Next Slab smells a tad of opportunism. Both reactions are legitimate. DIN is perennially popular for that spare, modern look; it’s understandable that a business would want to capitalize on that popularity by offering a seriffed companion. On the other hand, there is occasionally something slightly ungainly about serifizing letters that were designed to be without serifs. The alternatives found in this list of similar faces work better for me. Your mileage may vary.
As we saw with Foro Sans and Qubo in an earlier Blog post, Dieter Hoftichter tends to write a few good tunes and then play them in slightly different ways with subsequent releases. His Mangan is not unlike several of his other serifs, (as shown in its list of similars), but it is perhaps the most contemporary. It follows classical proportions and structures, but does away with old, soft and wandering contours in favor of crispness. The only Hofrichter tendency that doesn’t quite sit well with me is his signature ‘a’ with its flat-topped bowl pulled like taffy to the northwest. Otherwise, you can generally expect sound, utilitarian type from Hoftype.
Jack Usine is a guy who flies under the radar, but has been producing interesting type under his SMeltery label for over a decade. His work is informed by French sign lettering more than anything purely typographic, which leads to unconventional and refreshing forms. Audimat is one of Usine’s early noteworthy releases, first issued in 2003 and updated three years later. This new Audimat 3000 is a much more tangible improvement and transforms Audimat from a mere novelty into a serviceable family of four weights with italics. Comparing the two editions with Identifont’s differences tool clearly shows the refinement in shapes like ‘A’, ‘J’, ‘S’, ‘s’ and ‘t’. Usine has matured as a designer but kept his eccentric nature and we’re all the better for it. Audimat 3000 Italic is particularly delightful. See it all, along with its French vernacular inspiration, in the colorful PDF specimen.
Lignette Script is a fun little face that treads the lines between sans and script, geometric and organic, and mechanical versus handmade. Some of these shapes work better as individuals than in words, and I find Line to be a more sophisticated effort in a similar monoline script style, but Lignette could be just the whiff of whimsy you’re seeking. The frames found in Lignette Deco are a quaint addition.