Stag mixes the contemporary taste for large x-heights and quirky details with influences from continental Egyptians of the early 20th century. Stag was originally designed as a headline face for the US edition of Esquire magazine in four weights, in Roman & Italic. Because it was originally intended for for just a handful of very large, very heavy words at a time, I focused on making the spaces between characters as interesting as the space inside them, ending up with an unusual mixed bracketing treatment on the serifs. This contrast between sharp and soft forms grew into the main design feature of the family, with the balance shifted more towards soft forms in the cursive-influenced italic.
When Esquire contacted me in the summer of 2005 about drawing a new slab serif for bold, forceful headlines. I showed them a range of slab serifs produced by French and German foundries around 1900-1940, and synthesized elements from several of them (notably Beton, Peignot’s Egyptienne Noir, Georg Trump’s Schadow, and Scarab) into a new face with a very large x-height, extremely short ascenders and descenders, and tight spacing, for a compact, contemporary look. Since it was going to be set in short, large blocks of text, we decided that it was important to make the spaces between the characters as interesting to look at as the space inside the characters, which is why the bracketing is only applied on the outside of the serifs. I couldn’t figure out how to make this work on the Thin without having weird spots of extra weight, so I decided to turn that into one of the defining features of the face, rather than forcing it to be another bland hairline face.
This was the only project I’ve ever done where the client kept pushing me to make the face weirder and weirder, which made working with them a lot of fun.
V1.0—Initial release version; 2007.07
V2.0—Update: Three additional weights in Roman & Italic; 2008.07