Constellation / Aero

Typographica’s Best of 2013: DomaineMarch 13, 2014

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John Boardley writes: Kris Sowersby’s Domaine family has its origins in a logotype for the Australian wine company, Hardys. I am an unabashed fan of Sowersby’s work. He is an exceptional type designer, one who has a particularly acute sense of what good type should look like.

In Domaine Text and Domaine Display, he has again extruded the very best elements from a number of cross-genre exemplars. Never aping, but mindfully deconstructing, then distilling only the best elements, the choicest ingredients into something purer, something new; and above all, and most crucially, something eminently usable. With Domaine, the gradation of weights from Light through Black is pitch perfect; the contrast, especially in the heavier weights, spot on. Yet, despite the evident technical prowess, there is still flourish and flare, though it never descends into affected flamboyance.

The so-called Latin types are an unusual genre. It’s quite a challenge to take this style as a starting point and proceed to make something unified and useful out of it — something that has a use beyond a quirky, multi-word headline. The Latin letterforms have their charm, but sometimes they verge on ugliness at worst, and ungainliness at best.

Sowersby was able to reign in or pacify the genre by taking cues from the Scotch Romans, but without surrendering some of the charm, including the sump­tuous curlicue fish-hook terminals. Perhaps it’s just me, but in the narrow and condensed Romans the flavor of the Latin exemplars shines through a little more.

Domaine is Sowersby’s largest family to date, compris­ing 46 fonts. But it is so much more than an impressive range of styles; it’s what good type should look like.

See the review on Typographica.org.

New Release: DignitasMarch 7, 2014

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Dignitas, a contemporary take on the Roman inscriptional capitals, was designed by Christian Schwartz and Dino Sanchez originally as part of their high-concept Luxury Collection. As such, it takes an almost parodic approach to the idea of elegance. The large x-height is balanced out by very long ascenders and descenders, and though it was promoted as a text face, its delicate details work best at 18pt and above.

The classical proportions of Roman inscriptional capitals have never truly gone out of style. They have been revived again and again in history, as architectural lettering during the Renaissance and several Neoclassical periods since; by Fred Goudy in 1930; as a signage alphabet for London, designed by David Kindersley in the 1950s; and in the early 1990s in Carol Twombly’s Adobe Trajan, ubiquitous in movie poster design to this day. These proportions can also be seen in such unexpected places as Paul Renner’s capitals for Futura. The inscription at the bottom of Trajan’s Column in Rome is the best known example of this lettering style, but many, many examples still exist throughtout the former Roman Empire.

Read on and test it out here…

New release: HaltrixFebruary 23, 2014

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As a general rule, most script fonts are built upon elements associated with femininity; smooth curves and delicate swashes. As a result, scripts are often associated with feminine products. (One of the ‘great’ non-connecting script fonts is Othmar Motter’s Femina, which is doused in so much perfume there’s not much mistaking it for anything you might find on a baseball uniform.)

Daniel Sabino’s concept for Haltrix was to head in the exact opposite direction of most script fonts, purposefully making a ‘masculine’ script face; the starting point being the designer’s own handwriting. Every decision was made during development to make the letters as aggressive and angular as possible by avoiding curves and emphasizing straight line segments.

Haltrix sits amongst other such scripts as Gabriel Martínez Meave’s Arcana and Roger Excoffon’s marvelous Mistral (as well as Elena Albertoni’s homage, Nouvelle Vague.) The typeface was also influenced by blackletter types, bringing a harder-edged approach than its predecessors.

The typeface is a connected script reliant upon OpenType Contextual Alternate lookups, and with several alternates, swashes, and wide language support.

New foundry: BlackletraFebruary 23, 2014

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We are so pleased to announced a new member foundry, Daniel Sabino’s Blackletra.

Blackletra is the workshop of Brazilian type designer Daniel Sabino, currently based in São Paulo. Daniel holds an MA in Advanced Typography by EINA/UAB, Barcelona, and has taught type design at IED/São Paulo. Established in 2012, Blackletra develops custom and retail typefaces, lettering and logotypes. Blackletra’s work has been recognized by the Type Directors Club (USA), Laus (Spain), Morisawa (Japan), Typographica (www), and Tipos Latinos (Latin America).

Communication Arts magazine on IncubatorFebruary 20, 2014

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In the past decade, “incubators,” businesses where the experienced help nurture the new, have been popping up in a wide range of fields, from tech startups to nonprofit creative arts organizations. The aptly named Incubator is one of the first such programs specifically dedicated to type design. It’s one part of Village, a small, independent type distributor, publisher and type design studio based in the Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn. The name Village derives from its original location in New York’s East Village and its structure as a collection of member-foundries with a cooperative connection. It includes top type designers from around the world and membership is by invitation only. Just as carefully selected, the “Incubatees” are up-and-coming designers who come to the attention of Village founders Chester Jenkins, former partner of Thirstype, his wife Tracy and other members of the group.

Launched on Village’s three-year anniversary in 2008, Incubator helps designers develop their typographic voices and get their fonts ready to sell with “gentle guidance” from Village members. “We were already kind of incubating before Incubator,” recalls Jenkins. He and longtime Village member Christian Schwartz of Commercial Type mentored Kris Sowersby, now a Village member in his own right, while he was preparing his debut release, a curvy serif called Feijoa, for his foundry Klim in the mid-2000s. “Christian and I each worked on a custom type project with Kris, and I worked with him on the technical aspects of bringing Feijoa to market. We had already committed to having a dedicated slot for Kris in Village and he has always been an incredibly talented and skilled designer, but preparing type for market is much more involved than most people realize, even those who have self-published type.” Another pre-Incubator incubatee was Hugo d’Alte. “We worked closely with him to prepare his typeface Kaas for publication in 2005 and released that through the Thirstype label,” Jenkins says. So the idea to incubate fell out naturally from the process of guiding typefaces to market. But Incubator as another foundry within Village was not officially formed until the release of Jeremy Mickel’s Router in 2008.

Mickel found inspiration for Router in some handmade signage under the streets of New York: words router-etched out of plastic in the subway station at 33rd and Park. Mickel was familiar with Village; he and Jenkins had previously met at what Jenkins calls “type geek nights in NoHo” back in 2006. Because Village specializes in a hand-picked and varied collection of type styles, Jenkins could see that Router would be a nice addition to the roster. “We knew that we wanted to release Router,” notes Jenkins, “but didn’t feel that it fit into any of our existing channels. Which is when we lit upon the idea of having an incubator, which would allow us to publish types—usually first designs, sometimes student work, always interesting—without the kind of ‘marriage’ that is involved in having a foundry slot at Village.”

Both Jenkins and Schwartz gave Mickel feedback, each focusing on different aspects of the design. “I had gotten to know Christian Schwartz and he became a mentor for Router,” says Mickel. “He’s listed as my Village Counsel as he answered many technical questions and gave drawing feedback during its development. But Chester was also very involved, offering his opinion and expertise the whole way through.” The one-on-one counseling came at a good time for Router. “I still had a lot to do. I think I had completed a full draft of Router Book and Book Italic and done sketches of the other weights. But it was about a year after I first agreed to publish Router with Village that it actually got released. Village understands that good type takes time and they have never pressured me to release anything before it was ready.” Mickel is now a full Village member with his foundry MCKL , and Router was included in the 2012 exhibit Graphic Design—Now in Production, co-organized by Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the Walker Art Center.

Incubator has grown in the past five years to eight releases, with many more coming up. Lucas Sharp, another Incubatee, gives a good description of the easygoing nature of Village. His project is Sharp Sans, a geometric, humanist sans serif. “I submitted it directly to the designers of Village, who got back to me that they were interested in publishing it after a few meetings. I actually met Chester in person when I ordered all the specimen books off the Village website and, since I was working out of a studio in Dumbo at the time, he hand-delivered them to me on his dog walk. I was originally mentored by Joshua Darden and worked as a draftsman at the Darden Studio before I went independent, and Chester picked up where Josh left off in terms of my typography education. There isn’t any kind of pairing system, but Chester and Tracy make themselves available to look at work, and if you want to get another Village designer’s take, you can just e-mail them and they are responsive. I’ve found that indie type designers in general tend to be friendly, helpful and accessible.”

Even with the generous design feedback, Incubator is not a type design school. As Sharp explains, “Incubator is more of a publisher than a mentor. Yes, they are very helpful and can really help take burgeoning talent to the next level, but they are not finding talented novices off the street and turning them into world-class type designers. If you get into Incubator, you obviously have something going on and are looking to get away from the corporate typeface-reseller publishing scene. Most people start on one of the other behemoth type resellers that simply throw your font on a pile of millions of fonts and take half your sales. That model tends to favor quantity over quality since resellers are constantly promoting the newest releases, in some cases, from a completely non-curated and constant stream of mostly garbage from all over the world. In that world, it actually makes fiscal sense to do two mediocre fonts instead of one quality font in the same amount of time. There is always a diamond in the rough, but the model definitely promotes disposability over timelessness. Village is a great example of a viable alternative to this issue that is actually inclusive of new talent.”

Read on at CommunicationArts.com

New Release: Founders Grotesk MonoFebruary 12, 2014

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Founders Grotesk Mono, designed by Kris Sowersby of Klim, rounds out the Founders Grotesk Superset: Founders Grotesk, Condensed, X-Condensed, and Text. As the name suggests it is “monospaced”, each letter takes up exactly the same amount of horizontal space. Like Pitch it is a “10-pitch” typeface: at 10 point it will fit 10 letters to the inch. For more information about monospacing, please read Pitch’s design information.

Founders Grotesk Mono

Odesta / Best of 2013January 2, 2014

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Christoph Koeberlin of Typefacts named Urtd’s Odesta one of the best fonts of 2013, he writes: You can rarely so easily find one of your ten favourites out of hundreds of new typefaces. Odesta was love at first sight — maybe because she was designed for love!

See the other Best of 2013 picks at Typefacts.com

Typefacts / Best of 2013January 1, 2014

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Christoph Koeberlin of Typefacts included five Village releases in his Best of 2013 list.

He writes: A Best-Of list is just like a football team. You shouldn’t only take into account the best players as individuals, but the best team; the players that harmonize best. In my list of the best typefaces of the year, I have taken this into stride and tried to compile a well-balanced, harmonic yet diversified overview.

See the other Best of 2013 picks at Typefacts.com

TNW / Best of 2013December 23, 2013

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Sean Manning of TNW included three Village releases in his Best of 2013 picks.

See more over at TNW