New Additions: August 2015
8th September 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 recent additions.
Akzidenz-Grotesk is the prototypical Modernist Grot. It was the springboard for countless modern sans serifs in the middle of the 20th century. Now again in the digital era a new crop of descendants can be traced to AG . The latest is FF Real from Erik Spiekermann, who has always been a fan of Akzidenz-Grotesk Halbfett (Medium), using it often in his p98a letterpress posters, and he gets closer to that heft (rather than AG Regular) for FF Real’s base weight. The family follows the recent and welcome trend of optical sizes, with separate versions for headlines and body, though this idea isn’t new to Spiekermann who has produced several designs with size-specific cuts. Those familiar with FF Meta will see the designer’s touch here — in the Text especially: the splayed ‘M’, the wide ‘S’, the tailed ‘l’.
A few months ago I expressed my excitement for the sharp cuts of GT Sectra. Garibaldi is an oldstyle serif with a similar energy, though the angles aren’t quite so sharp. Its shapes come from a more traditional calligraphic pen. But that doesn’t mean it’s uninteresting; it has all the vitality of a zesty Jenson without owing too much to that or any historical model. This is promising news from Henrique Beier, a young Brazilian whose work noticeably matures with each new release.
FF Hertz is another unorthodox text serif, this time from the tougher, more rugged side of town. Jens Kutilek’s design relates to the sturdy newspaper serifs of the 1920s, such as Chauncey Griffith’s “Legibility Series” (Ionic No. 5/News 701, Corona, and Excelsior) but with the squareness of type like Melior and Ibis. These flat sides, chunky serifs, low contrast, and loose spacing are all devised to serve readability in harsh environments. It’s a serious departure from Kutilek’s Comic Jens debut.
Andrea Tinnes is a reserved but accomplished designer whose work is unjustly overlooked. Even though we’re Berlin neighbors, I too often forget about the depth and creativity of her output for Primetype and her own Typecuts label. The PTL Roletta family, seven years in the making (2004–10), is a good examples of how she takes a well-trodden path yet digs her own unique groove just off the trail. Roletta Sans exudes the approachability of a soft sans, but stops short of getting cute, like so many bubbly types do. The Slab is even more businesslike while still retaining the family’s warmth. It’s a straighter-laced, contemporary ITC American Typewriter, carving out a category shared by few other rounded slabs. Every glyph is well-considered, many with alternative forms.
Flamboyant phototype serifs of the late 1960s to 1970s are all the rage in recent graphic design. Novelties like Trooper Roman, ITC Tom’s Roman, ITC Bernase Roman, ITC Grouch, and Benguiat Caslon which were once relegated to cheap paperbacks and advertising are suddenly hot again, proudly appearing on today’s book covers and logos as a wink to the past and an embrace of the slightly odd. The new Eksell is in that vein, with its angled stress, unusual lettershapes, and flaring terminals, but it separates itself from the others, perhaps because it comes not from Americans but from Swedes — Olle Eksell via Göran Söderström. Letters from Sweden wisely released the family in three optical sizes to take full advantage of the sparkling contrast without losing hairlines when set smaller. The Stencil style is almost like turning up the contrast to 11, losing the hairlines altogether. It’s a handsome effect, on the order of Avia, Dala Floda, and St. Croce.
There are now dozens of contemporary takes on 19th-century Grotesques, with their stocky build, modelled forms, and strokes that turn inward. Bureau Grot led the way and many have followed. Bligh could be lumped in that bunch, and I was tempted to dismiss it as an unnecessary addition, but a closer look shows that it’s not another olde fashioned revival, or even a modern take on the old gothics. Two things separate it from the historical model: a near lack of stroke modulation giving an even stroke weight, and a frisky, almost comical gait. In this way it’s more like National but with the bounce of Bree. If the old Grots are the gramps; Bligh is the sprightly grandkid.