Type News: Future Vintage

As usual, it was a busy seven days in the world of typography. I’m on my own this week — subbing in for Erik Vorhes and Grant Hutchinson, and nursing the aftereffects of sour milk consumption (don’t be a tough guy, trust the expiration date!) — but I’ll try to cover the most interesting developments as I saw them.

The bad news with our first item is that it can only really be experienced on the iPad. The good news is that it’s sweet, sweet typographer’s eye candy … for free. We’ve seen a lot of half-hearted “font viewing” apps for iOS devices, but nothing compares to what Suitcase Type Foundry released yesterday. With its well-considered sample images, slick navigation, and useful Combine feature, Type Specimen is a gorgeous showcase of the Suitcase library and a testament to the possibilities of interactive font catalogs.

Imprint’s Patric King gave due props to Tal Leming, whose MetricsMachine kerning tool has become like a craftsman’s favorite hammer to many of the world’s leading type designers. Leming’s Type Supply Tool Dept. also stocks apps for working with UFOs, a newish format for font editing, and Superpolator, an app for interpolating new font variations, like weights and widths.

If Tal Leming is a type designer who loves software, Keith Houston is a software developer who loves punctuation. He loves it so much, he created a blog dedicated to it. Shady Characters tells unusual stories behind punctuation marks. The first installment is a 1,500 word history of the pilcrow. And that’s just Part 1.

We’ve got more good stuff for your weekend reading list. The recently relaunched Typotheque website is not only a font shop, it’s also home to 148 articles, many of which were written by the label’s founder, Peter Biľak. Biľak is one those great type designers who is also a good writer. His latest essay comes from a lecture he gave on Conceptual Type, an exploration of whether those two words can coexist.


Vintage lettering lovers had lots to love this week. Indra Kupferschmid unearthed a London blog’s feature on Maurice Evans, a 82-year-old who collects fireworks, lots of which sparkles with fantastic packaging. And Andy Woodruff, a Boston cartographer, introduced us to the Boston Public Library’s 351-piece collection of travel posters.

Another piece of vintage gold: it’s been up for a while but we just rediscovered Joe Clark’s scan of Ed Benguiat’s anatomy of letters. The drawings from a Photo-Lettering Inc. catalog includes some terms — like manuscript form, gaspipe serif, and stab and tangent connections — that you don’t usually see on the standard anatomy chart. It’s really useful stuff for describing the more particular details of a typeface.

For a more conventional anatomy, check out Typography Deconstruction and their nicely produced letterpress poster (following in the footsteps of Boms and Hutchinson’s Lesson Plan Print from Ligature, Loop and Stem). I do have a beef with TypeDecon’s definition of aperture as a “partially enclosed negative space”. There is already the term open counter for that. I prefer the much more useful definition we settled on here at Typedia.

In font foundry news, Brian Jaramillo signed with Veer to be the exclusive retailer of his Agency 26 fonts. Most of the typefaces are inspired by wood type of the 1800s, yet with a sort of 1970s funky vibe (kinda like Fontalicious with less disco and more grit). Veer’s introductory video encapsulates this fusion well.

On the web design front, Sawyer Hollenshead’s “Depth of Field” experiment demonstrates a novel way to create navigation and hierarchy using CSS3 effects like blur, transforms, and transitions on web type.

The last piece of news before we look at the new releases, TYPO Berlin has posted a great preliminary program, reconfirming itself as one of the best design conferences in Europe. Speakers include April Greiman, iA principal Oliver Reichensten, publisher and typography writer Robin Kinross, illustrator Christoph Niemann, and a long list of brilliant type designers including Kris Sowersby, Peter van Blokland, František Storm, Tim Ahrens, and Peter Biľak. If you’re lucky enough to be in Berlin in spring, get yourself to the pregnant oyster. Early registration is discounted until Monday, February 28.

New Releases

Coranto specimen

This week Type Together scored a coup, reeling in one of the top living designers to their young foundry. If there was a typography hall of fame, Gerard Unger would be in it, and he hasn’t sold a new typeface through a third party for over a decade. Coranto 2 is a revision of his popular newspaper typeface, a refined product of 35 years experience making type for publications. This is just the beginning; I’m told there is more to come from Unger and Type Together.

Aisha specimen

Aisha, by Titus Nemeth, is the latest release from Rosetta, a new label focusing on mult-script typography. For those less initiated, these are fonts with not only Latin characters (for Western languages) but also support for Arabic, Greek, Cyrillic, Indian, or Asian languages. Aisha is one of the few multi-script designs which has a Latin inspired by the Arabic (in this case the Maghribi script) rather than an attempt to develop a new Arabic match for an existing typeface. This approach is obvious in the design of the Latin which echoes the loose, flowing strokes of Maghreb calligraphy.

Lab Sans specimen

New type foundry Tiponautas launched with founders from Spain (Luis Alonso), Portugal (Ricardo Santos), and Argentina (Charlie Zinno). Their first typeface is Lab Sans, which adds to a long list of straight-sided mechanical sans serifs released in the last few years. Lab Sans boasts a large, full-featured family and may offer sensitive Spanish and Catalan typesetting (given the origin of the designers). Overall, I don’t find the design quite as mature as Klavika, Iwan Reschniev, Refrigerator Deluxe, FF Cube, Capricorn, Fishmonger, or Teuton, but download the comprehensive PDF and judge for yourself.

Scape specimen

Scape is an understated, contemporary stencil.

Jesterday specimen

Jesterday is what happens when a straight-laced Grotesque loosens up on the weekend. It’s a fun and casual yet complete family that seems to perform surprisingly well in small text settings.

Zamenhof specimen

With its set of layerable styles, Zamenhof is a throwback poster sans with a variety of inline, outline, and color possibilities.

That’s the news for this week. Have something to add? Let us know in the comments.

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