A large scarf is not as good as a towel, but it will still cut reflection.
These people are crazy. We are eating and they are arguing about typefaces.
Day 3, part 2: at the Bijzondere Collecties UvA. Here discussing van Krimpen’s Cancellaresca Bastarda.
Culinary excess to counter the intellectual feast of the Plantin-Moretus.
End of first Plantin-Moretus day: tired, need beer.
Our exceptional host for the first session of the day, Guy Hutsebaut. The press hall in the Plantin-Moretus is the first opportunity to see early printing in its context, and all the stages of book production (bar ink- and-paper making) side-by-side. The stories around Antwerp in the 16th century, of growing trade, religious allegiances, and publishing texts that resonate for centuries, come alive in this astonishing environment.
A good start to the 2013 trip
… is how one graduate described the MATD.
Next Postgraduate Open Day is on Thursday 14 March. Be here for 10:00. Get in touch for directions, and to let us know you’re coming.
Sara Soskolne is one of the nicest people to make the MATD studio her home for a while. She’s also written one of the most interesting dissertations to be submitted as part of the MATD. She’s talking at the Cooper Union on Monday 3 December on the topic of her research. If I were anywhere near NYC next week, I’d make sure I was there.
Disliking lists – let alone “definitive” ones – is not good preparation for answering Elliot Jay Stocks’ request for “8 favourite typefaces to accompany the interview in the magazine”. What if I only really care for six, or twelve? And, eight for what? The typography I do, or the typography others do that I appreciate? Or the ones I admire but cannot imagine using?
Like most type problems, it became much easier to answer by thinking not about the typefaces themselves, but about documents (and, by extension, active and passive users). I settled on typefaces that have proven themselves typographically competent, rewarding to set, and revealing to discuss. This last point (probably irrelevant to most users of typefaces) is central to my selection: what does the typeface tell us about the designer’s intentions, their interpretation of the cultural moment, and ourselves as active users?
(Incoming MATD students: these are good study material. Both their design, and the reasons for their inclusion.)
Grotesque MT: Frank Hinman Pierpont, 1926 (Monotype digital version 1993)
I wrote: A typography lesson in a typeface: eight uprights with only two italics, a bucketful of quirks and inconsistencies, and capitals so heavy you think they’re channeling Jenson. And yet, if used well it makes mincemeat of complex typography, and leaves you thinking ‘I need no other!’
Ideal Sans: Hoefler & Frere-Jones, 2011
I wrote: Next to Ideal Sans most humanistic sans serifs are either too self-absorbed, or too boring. This is a long-text sans: the design balances counters and strokes much better than either neo-grotesques or geometrics, while the slight variations where you expect visual alignments reinforce a subtle identity.
Candara Latin & Greek: Gary Munch, Microsoft, 2007 (but really a bit earlier)
I wrote: Candara is a brave, visionary Microsoft on a good day. Original in concept, impeccably effective in text settings across three scripts, and pleasantly surprising in larger sizes, Candara re-calibrated our ideas about what it was possible to ship with Office. The Greek is even better than the Latin.
Miller Text: Matthew Carter, Font Bureau, 1997
I wrote: Probably the best Scotch Roman available, with a reference typographic texture in the middle weights. Adding grades like Miller Daily would make this near-indispensable. The italic is confident and exuberant, which makes it a little difficult to use, sometimes. Typographic dynamite in the same fonts folder as HTF Chronicle and Eames Century Modern.
Elena: Nicole Dotin, Process Type Foundry, 2011
I wrote: A typeface that looks a bit too light and too uniform at first sight, but resolves into a very readable texture. It captures in a remarkably concise way the post-Unger genre, while employing softer arches in the upright and a contrasting, pen-informed italic. Looks amazing in Instapaper.
Abril: Veronika Burian and José Scaglione, Type Together, 2011
I wrote: A very contemporary concept for a typeface family, with text styles best described as ‘slabby transitional with a twist’, loosely Modern display styles, and an unashamedly in-your-face Fatface set thrown in for good measure. Forward-looking but historically sensitive in an intelligent way.
Fenland: Jeremy Tankard, 2012
I wrote: Fenland takes the western broad nib model and squashes it with big black boots. Its counter-intuitive treatment of arches and joints demonstrates that text typeface design is far from a saturated design space, even in the Latin script.
SBL Greek: John Hudson, SBL, 2009
I wrote: The most accomplished update of the Didot style for Greek typefaces, it combines the fluidity of the original with a superbly competent typographic texture, and attention to detail. One style only, so for modern texts either disastrous or an opportunity for typographic genius.