Type News: Tic-Tac-Octothorpe

It looks like St. Nick arrived early this year (or Sinterklaas was really late). We have an abundance of new type and a goodly amount of news about characters of all sorts.

Are you familiar with the octothorpe? It’s not a mutant Australian swimmer but an equally handy character, and is for some reason paired with the number three on a standard US keyboard. For more on this peculiar glyph, Tim Dowling recounts the octothorpe’s ascent over at The Guardian.

In other letter-related news, Sonali Vora guides us through 50 years of album cover lettering. Jesse Zanzinger entrances us with his video “Refraction – The Alphabet.” Aegir Hallmundur directs us to some lovely lined numerals by Stephen Jockish. For more delicious letters, you’ll need to wait until after a piping-hot serving of new type!

Bodoni Egyptian Pro specimen

Long before Hoefler & Frere-Jones released Archer, there was Nick Shinn’s Bodoni Egyptian. A slab with balls. Ball terminals, that is. Now there’s Bodoni Egyptian Pro—featuring better heft in the heavies, but retaining the subtlety in the lights that we’ve always appreciated. Here’s a nice example of it in use thanks to Stephen Coles.

Progreso specimen

CastleType’s Progreso is a straight-up, condensed, unicase serif inspired by early 20th century Russian hand-lettered posters. As expected, Central European language support is dutifully included.

Fakt specimen

Yet another neo-grotesk? As Typographica.org pointed out, 2010 has all the markings of being dubbed the “Year of the Helv Replacements.” If Thomas Thiemich’s Fakt is any indication, we’re ok with that label. (Although, the Typedia staff would argue that it seems more like “Year of the Monospaced.”) Fakt echoes the best of both grotesk and geometric sans conventions through clever use of stylistic alternates throughout an extended range of weights (from “Air” to “Black”) and a trio of widths.

Piedra specimen

Starting off a pair of releases from Sudtipos this week is the rather unconventional Piedra. A chunky, chipped display face that somehow maintains the strange balance of being solid and soft at the same time. Not rough enough for you? Plop a few extra “pebbles” in your headlines by switching on the stylistic alternates.

Kilo specimen

Now this is more like what we’ve come to expect from Sudtipos and the dynamic typographic duo of Angel Koziupa and Alejandro Paul. Kilo is a bold, flexible display script with multiple alternates for nearly every lowercase character. With that kind of variety, Kilo can be set connected, disconnected, or freestyle.

Dubwise specimen

Pump up the volume with Dubwise, a display face built like a nightclub bouncer. This quirky sorta-serif with the obliterated counters is the latest handiwork of Gestalten’s Aron Jancso.

Hiatus specimen

Moving from the dance club to the country club, Stephen Rapp’s delicate and finessed Hiatus combines aspects of formal and casual calligraphic scripts. Generous letterspacing, ample contextual ligatures, and voluminous decorative swashes add to Hiatus’ flourish without masking its personality.

DF Capitol specimen

The bold geometry and exaggerated lines of Rian Hughes’ DF Capitol reflect the Streamline Moderne style of the 1930s. The two variations of DF Capitol Skyline feature open counters, a diminutive x-height, and abundant alternates and discretionary ligatures. The aptly named DF Capitol Capitals provides an additional four all-caps weights.

Yo specimen

Yo, Didot! The background information for Yo states that “sanity” forced designer James Montalbano to scale back this ambitious Didone-style superfamily — to only 100 fonts. Yipes. Rather than the original plan for 26 widths, there’s a very manageable set of five, each with 20 weights and stuffed full of OpenType features.

Lato specimen

The first public release from Łukasz Dziedzic’s tyPoland foundry, Lato is an extremely clean, “semi-rounded” sans family. Published under the Open Font License and available via the Google Font Directory, all five weights and corresponding italics are absolutely free (and web embeddable).

Mayence specimen

Angular, yet loose. Elegant, yet imperfect. Isac Rodrigues’ Mayence is an intricate calligraphic face which features hundreds of language-specific ligatures and nine (count ’em‚ nine) ampersands. If you have the time, peruse the exhaustive specimen and user guide and witness the visual complexity and linguistic thought put into this typeface.

Are you still looking for some gifts? Chocolate letters rarely fail. While the Type]Media2011 letters don’t appear to be for sale, you might be inspired to make your own after checking out Yanone’s video about designing and casting them. For a more professional look, you could try some of this week’s new type or the free (for a limited time) faces from OurType. If you like to give books as gifts, encourage your friends and family to question typographic orthodoxy by giving them copies of Never Use More than Two Different Typefaces.

Returning to “real” news and webfonts: Clearleft have announced Ampersand, a conference on web typography, will take place on June 17, 2011, in Brighton. If it’s even half as good as dConstruct is supposed to be, Ampersand will be worth attending. On the Typekit blog, Tim Ahrens discusses the intricacies of TrueType hinting. If you want to get into the webfont game, you could help improve the WebINK service by becoming a web designer and evangelist for Extensis. If you’re more interested in making your own experience on the web as good as it can be and happen to use Firefox on Mac OS X, the latest version (3.6.13) disabled WOFF kerning. But fear not, it’s possible to turn it back on.

It’s never too late to reminisce over worthwhile events, as Yves Peters demonstrates with the third part of his series on ATypI 2010.

Finally, after a too-long hiatus, John Boardley has resumed writing “The Week in Type” for I Love Typography (and officially announced Codex). He’s promising a more weekly “Week in Type” come 2011, and we’re looking forward to it.

That brings us to the end of another week of type and type-related news. See you next week; in the meantime, put coal in our stockings by telling us about all the interesting news we missed!

Thanks to the [superlative adjective] Grant Hutchinson for bringing us this week’s new type.

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