Opinionated Type

Just Like Yours, Only They’re Mine: Josh Farmer

Category: Releases

The Complete Engraver Book and Two Free Fonts

The Complete Engraver is a tome by Nancy Sharon Collins about the place of engraving in typographic history. Ink used to be a luxury and paper was handmade, so the dedicated act of engraving something turned it into the proverbial priceless heirloom.

The Complete Engraver Book by Collins

The Complete Engraver Book by Collins

What we understand now as engraving took much dedication, patience, and skill to mature into an artful business. It took the perfecting of swashes and hairlines and rhythm, and it took a sense of relational maturity to do include just enough flourish and no more than the event called for. (Yes, that ended with a preposition. And?) Engraving is not done to worthless things; that is not its purpose. Engraving marks now for forever. It is a monument given at a precise moment, a purposeful recall imbued with every ounce of emotion one could possibly muster. It is not to be taken too lightly. Hopefully, beyond the droll act of pressing metal majuscules to hot wax, Collins’s book will convince us of that.

In the meantime, enjoy two free fonts that have nestled themselves somewhere between a 14-year-old’s whimsical doodles and the maturity of Jessica Hische’s designs — but created by a dude — Terrance Weinzierl’s Feldman Engraver and JMC Engraver.

Feldman Engraver and JMC Engraver at fonts.com

Feldman Engraver and JMC Engraver at fonts.com

Go forth and fancify something.


Apple’s New Typeface in Maps: Avenir

Apple uses Myriad Pro (with a few tweaks) for its company branding. They used Helvetica for most of iOS until they switched to Helvetica Neue, which they still use now. They have consistently added new typefaces to their reading applications, like iBooks. And they use context-specific typefaces where needed, such as with the LED numerals for sports scores.

With the announcement of iOS 6 and iPhone 5, their video showed a clear all-purpose sans used in Maps.

The lowercase a is not right for it to be Futura, Frutiger, or Proxima Nova. The lowercase y is not right for it to be Soleil, Gotham, or Lucida Sans.

It’s Adrian Frutiger’s Avenir, the latest addition to the good stockpile of typefaces on Apple systems. Avenir is yet another answer to the desire for a Futura that is not Futura. Frutiger wanted something with more personality and a less harsh presentation than Futura on the printed page. Avenir is still geometric and still understated, but slightly more readable. And let’s hope so because your ability to arrive fashionably late now depends on it.

Avenir Next Image from fonts.com

Avenir Next Sample from fonts.com

Please Define Failure

Concerning Microsoft’s tablet announcement, dubbed Surface, Shawn Blanc today said:

The keyboards are a necessary component because of the software.

The Surface for Windows 8 Pro runs full-on traditional Windows apps — apps which you cannot use with touch input. You need a keyboard and trackpad for those apps.

In what way is a physical keyboard considered a success when it is necessary for a mobile computer? So then how long until reverting to old hardware is inherently understood as a failure? Why not bring back the terminal prompt while we’re at it? “Everything is a remix” was an observation, not necessarily a compliment.

I’m happy Microsoft is making some effort in this category, but when your software holds back your hardware from progressing, or vice versa, I mark that as a failure.

The Breakdown: Reuters Hates the Unreleased iPhone. We get it.

Less than two hours ago, Reuters posted this article, which is so full of nonsense that it makes “The Jabberwock” look rational.

I’ve reposted it here for demolition. Let’s look.

“SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co launches its latest Galaxy S smartphone in Europe on Tuesday, with the third generation model expected to be even more successful than its predecessor,”

Nothing should be easier than being more successful than old technology.

“which helped the South Korean company topple Apple Inc as the world’s top smartphone maker.”

Toppled already? That was quick. I mean it only took half a decade. Oh, and what measurements are we using? Because current revenue and gross margin weren’t included, at almost 30 billion and almost 50 percent for Apple, but only 17 billion and 13 percent for Samsung.

I understand, though. Math is something we used when we were in school. But now that we’re out, we’ll stick to link baiting.

“The S3, which tracks the user’s eye movements to keep the screen from dimming or turning off while in use,”

Google Glasses proof of concept. I mean really, at this point if the word tracking is used, we expect Google is behind it and making a buck.

“hits stores in 28 European and Middle East countries, including Germany and Britain, as Samsung aims to widen the gap with Apple months ahead of its rival’s new iPhone, expected in the third quarter.”

Only 28? Do you know how many countries are over there? And if you’re going for big numbers and don’t want to include America, then China and India are the best bets. Especially if, as you have shown, revenue and margin aren’t high on the priority list. By all means, Germany should make the cut.

“The Galaxy S3, running on Google’s Android operating system, boasts a 4.8-inch screen,”

Two bummers in one sentence. But at least listing off bullet points is easy-peesy.

“bigger than the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S and the 4.7-inch screen on HTC’s One X model.”

Oh, so now math is your strong suit. Must be only when it suits the one-sided argument being laid out here: bigger screen is obviously better, rather than better screen is better, even if that screen is only one-tenth of an inch bigger. Next up: projection screen in your pocket. Obviously better. Because it’s bigger.

“In the kind of anticipation that has become the norm for new Apple gadget releases, hopeful customers began queuing outside an electronics retail store in Berlin on Monday night eager to be the first to lay their hands on the S3.”

How many? It’s never said. And kudos for the quasi-cultish reference. The overlord will not forget your act of servitude.

“Major global carriers – from Vodafone to Singapore’s SingTel – [sic for the lame hyphens which should be em dashes] have been aggressively promoting the S3, fuelling [sic, should be one l according to Oxford] speculation the smartphone could top the Galaxy S2’s 20 million unit sales worldwide.”

They’ve only sold 20 million S2s around the globe? But there’s almost a billion people just in the Middle-Eastern-and-Euro pond they’re fishing in. And Apple sold almost twice that amount just in the last quarter alone.

“In the two years that [that is such an unnecessary word] we’ve been offering pre-orders, it’s the most pre-ordered Android device we’ve had in our line-up,’ said a spokesman for Vodafone UK, declining to disclose exact numbers. ‘It’s on track to meet, if not exceed, the level of pre-orders we expected by the time it actually launches.’”

“We didn’t expect much, so it’s not as great as it sounds, but we know how to spin us some headlines! Set the expectations low, then blow them out of the water!”

“Samsung introduced its first Galaxy in 2010, three years after the iPhone’s debut,”

Steve Jobs wasn’t kidding when he said they were at least five years ahead of the competition at the first iPhone release.

“to counter Apple’s roaring success in smartphones at a time when other rivals such as Nokia were struggling to make much impact.”

Apple’s roaring success? Check. Other companies struggling? Check. Nothing much has changed here.

“Samsung sold 44.5 million smartphones in January-March – equal to nearly 21,000 every hour – giving it 30.6 percent market share. Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones, taking 24.1 percent market share.”

Enough already with the one-metric qualifier for success. And again, em dashes—like this— or spaced ones — like this — would make you look like a, um, uh, professional.

“‘The Galaxy S3 is a real challenger to the upcoming iPhone,’ said Francisco Jeronimo, an IDC analyst based in London.”

Says the person with no information whatsoever.

“‘This is likely be [sic, missing word] one of the most sold smartphones this year, though the real test will come when the next iPhone is launched.’”

Mr. Obvious, your obvious observation is not subtle. Analysts of this sort should never be paid. Say something I couldn’t have figured out on my own, would ya?

“The race for global smartphone supremacy comes as Apple has accused Samsung of copying some of its products. The South Korean company counter-claims that Apple has infringed its patents. Both have denied the allegations, and a long-running court saga continues.”

What other random details can we throw in this article? Steve Jobs is no longer running Apple. Did you mention that?

“Apple plans to use a larger screen on the next iPhone, according to people familiar with the situation. The iPhone 4S was introduced last October.”

But these people are super-secret, almost non-existent. Or they are rumor-mongering hacks with no familiarity with Apple’s product plans. Either way, only the second sentence is true.


“In a departure from its predecessor, whose look and feel became the main subject of the legal dispute with Apple, the latest Galaxy has a more rounded outline. It also has voice recognition, dubbed S Voice, which will inevitably be compared to Apple’s Siri, and image recognition software that can tag and share photographs.”

Ah, the lonely S. Apple has never used that before.

“Prices vary depending on the contract. A model with 16 gigabytes of memory costs up to 189 pounds ($300) under a 12-month contract with Vodafone. A similar package for the iPhone 4s costs 159 pounds, but comes with a more expensive monthly data plan.”

“Samsung said it will release the S3 via 296 carriers in 145 countries by July.”

“Profit from Samsung’s mobile division nearly tripled in January-March to $3.6 billion, accounting for 73 percent of operating profit.”

Good for them. Now, in comparison.

“Samsung – whose shares have gained 82 percent since late-August, beating Apple’s 58 percent rise – is now banking on an aggressive marketing campaign ahead of the summer London Olympics to further drive sales. It has said its mobile market share in China doubled after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

And we’re back to math. Yes, 82 is more than 58. But look at the graph.

“‘The S3 is supported by an unprecedented promotional campaign,’ said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight in London. ‘Samsung’s timing with the Galaxy S3 is perfect.’”

Perfect remains to be seen. As far as we know, the next iPhone is perfect. But you already hate it, so we don’t have to go there.

“($1 = 0.6396 British pounds)

($1 = 1185.3500 Korean won)

(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in LONDON and Tarmo Virki in HELSINKI; Editing by Ryan Woo and Ian Geoghegan)”

Final note: edit first, then post.

Ralf Herrmann Releases Wayfinding Sans Pro

Highway Signage’s Past

I have always felt distaste for the lettering on American federal highway signage. The Interstate typeface, as it is known, employs stems and curves that are are cut off for seemingly no apparent reason, claustrophobic counters, and piercing north-bound spires. While many good designers — the federal government simply doesn’t count for this — use it well in a display weight or headers, I was never terribly impressed with the truncated lowercase g or the way the intro stroke on the lowercase a felt too close to the bowl.

Interstate Sample from fontbureau.com

Interstate Sample from fontbureau.com

Tobias Frere-Jones and Cyrus Highsmith expanded the original 1993 offering into a 40-weight superfamily and it has done quite well, even consistently making it onto the current short list of whatever great designer is writing the list. I, though, prefer the subdued answer given by the state of Washington: FF Meta. FF Meta was designed by Erik Spiekermann in 1985 and revised in 1990. It has been called the Helvetica of the ’90s due to its ubiquity but not its personality. Because it actually has one. Its glyph shapes varied enough from each other to be easily recognizable — the lowercase l bends at the baseline, for example — but it still didn’t seem to completely fit the needs of road signage.

Enter Ralf Herrmann: Highway Signage’s Future

Six years of research and development, months of digital testing, and an empirical study at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin have led to the release of Wayfinding Sans Pro.

Wayfinding Sans Pro Introductory Sample

Wayfinding Sans Pro Introductory Sample

To increase the possible viewing distance, the skeleton of the letters of a signage typeface must be generic and familiar but also unmistakable. Wayfinding Sans Pro was designed this way from the ground up.

Wayfinding Sans Legibility Simulations

Wayfinding Sans Legibility Simulations

It has the feel of being made by a human rather than the industrial machinations of DIN 1451. Its forms are simultaneously inviting and informing, unlike American signage. Its glyphs are distinct — a word you can’t use enough concerning typefaces — compared with Dutch signage. Its forms are also clear, unlike French signage. In fact, Wayfinding Sans excels in precisely the ways French, Dutch, American, and German signage fails. Herrmann’s creation was focused on solving real-world problems, so it only makes sense to look at those who have gone before in order to fashion a better solution.

Glyph Distinction in Wayfinding Sans Pro

Glyph Distinction in Wayfinding Sans Pro

I really appreciate the amount of work that’s gone into this family. A significant problem has been solved while retaining the beauty and mild character of the typeface. It may even be possible for this family to be used in heads-up displays for driving. Herrmann says all signage is a good medium for this typeface, but where else might it be used? Movie subtitles or closed captioning?

Wayfinding Sans Pro Word Samples

Wayfinding Sans Pro Word Samples

The typeface comes in two weights (regular and bold) and three widths (condensed, normal, and extended). The extended widths are recommended for signage use, whereas, with print, the normal/regular weight is the default. Wayfinding Sans pro is loaded with OpenType features, figures, compensating positive and negative weights for use on one sign, and an iteration for arrow usage that actually makes sense. On the drawing board now is a set of hundreds of pictograms to guide the traveler. And as if the research and the results weren’t enough, it’s available for half price until 1 May 2012.

Herrmann’s type family is not made for long stretches of casual reading. It’s a beautiful text guide that won’t make you slow down as you get closer to it. But you just might want to.

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Download the Wayfinding Sans Pro PDF

Buy Wayfinding Sans Pro at:

Wayfinding Sans Pro website


Exclusive Interview: TypeTogether Releases Tablet Gothic

There are many incredible type foundries — Underware, House Industries, Village, Type Jockeys, and so many others — and TypeTogether is at the top of my list. They consistently impress, breathing new life into familiar categories.

As background, TypeTogether is the two-person company co-founded and run by Veronika Burian and José Scaglione, both graduates from the University of Reading with MAs in Type Design. According to Tiffany Wardle’s “Female Type Designers” entry on Typophile, Veronika has more than ten type family attributions — three other women are tied with her and only four have more type families than she. This is far more than impressive since TypeTogether has only been in existence since 2006.

TypeTogether focuses on typefaces for editorial use: magazines, newspapers, fine book type, and on the web. Skolar, Bree, Adelle, and Ronnia are four of their most popular families, and with good reason. They are modern, they work well in all mediums, and they have a special ability to charm the eye.

For instance, only a few days ago TypeTogether released a new editorial family, Tablet Gothic.

Tablet Gothic by TypeTogether

Tablet Gothic comes in an astounding 42 styles — seven weights in each of six widths — guaranteeing that, whatever the publication format is, there’s a Tablet Gothic font that will do the job and perform well both technically and aesthetically. TypeTogether says the wide, normal, and narrow widths produce a beautiful texture and highly readable text blocks at small sizes. The almost-vertical axis is one of the keys that allows the family to come in a wide range of weights without losing its signature look.

Weights of Tablet Gothic by TypeTogether

Weights and Widths of Tablet Gothic by TypeTogether

Tablet Gothic Widths in Bold

Tablet Gothic Widths in Bold

Notice the subtle line that angles up and to the right throughout a line. This quality, harnessed so well in Jos Buevenga’s Calluna, pushes the reader’s eye through the line and on to the next. It is especially noticeable in Tablet Gothic’s semibold weights and heavier since the terminals have more definition and are a large part of this visual propulsion.

Tablet Gothic Sample 3 by TypeTogether

Tablet Gothic Sample 3 by TypeTogether

Speaking of propulsion, TypeTogether granted me an interview about Tablet Gothic and their perspective on type design.

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Josh Farmer: Thanks for talking with me today, Veronika.

TypeTogether: My pleasure.

JF: You’ve just released the personable Tablet Gothic family. What was the inspiration behind it?

TT: We wanted to design a sans serif workhorse for extensive editorial use and give our recently released text family Abril a good companion. Our initial inspiration came from early grotesque designs in Britain and Germany. However, we didn’t want a revival, but a typeface that looks to the future of publishing with a clear understanding of its history. As always, our focus was on functionality while allowing a good measure of personality at the same time.

JF: For readers who do not know, what is a grotesque model and what is so appealing about it? Can you give examples of other grotesques you like?

TT: Grotesques are the early sans serif typefaces from the beginning of 19th century. To the eyes of the public at that time, a typeface without serifs looked odd and unfamiliar, so the name grotesque came about. They are quirky, quite ugly, and disproportionate to our eyes today, but that is what gives them a certain charm. They are much less regularised than static sans serifs like Helvetica. New typefaces modeled on the old grotesques, however, are usually stylised and adapted to the needs and tastes of today. One of the most famous grotesques is Akzidenz-Grotesk. A newer version I like is Kris Sowersby’s National by Klim Type Foundry.

JF: What characters did you begin with for Tablet Gothic and was there a specific reason behind those choices?

TT: We usually start with so-called control characters: the lowercase n, o, a, c, p, and the capital H and O. They set the proportions, stem thickness, and contrast. Most of the other letters are derived from these.

JF: Do you feel there is certain glyph which sums up Tablet Gothic’s voice, and why or why not?

TT: The most distinctive letter in the alphabet is always the lowercase a and sometimes the k and s. They are the most complex ones that a designer can play with to set the tone for the typeface.

Weights of Tablet Gothic by TypeTogether

Tablet Gothic Sample by TypeTogether

JF: Tablet Gothic has 42 total styles. How long did the family take you to complete?

TT: Actually, it took us only about four months from the start of the idea.

JF: That’s quite a fast pace. How do you accomplish such a wide range of work in such a short amount of time?

TT: We worked extensively with the multiple-master technology and two interpolation axes: weight and width. This facilitates the process quite a lot, but with 42 fonts everything gets a bit more complicated, and we had outside help with the kerning.

JF: What tools (software and hardware) are necessary for your such a fast workflow?

TT: We work with Fontlab, Superpolator, and Prepolator. As far as hardware, we have several Mac workstations and good A4 laser printers.

JF: How do you know when a typeface is finished and ready to release to the public?

TT: When we are happy with the quality of the shapes, the whole character set is drawn, spacing and kerning are done, and all the other necessary post-production is finished.

Tablet Gothic Sample Mix

Tablet Gothic Sample Mix

JF: When will the web version of Tablet Gothic be released and where can fans go to buy it?

TT: Within a few weeks, I think. It will be on Typekit, Fontdeck, and WebINK.

JF: How do you decide which type designs to pursue and which to wait on?

TT: Well this is not as straightforward as you might think; many factors play a role here.

JF: You’ve partnered with Wolfgang Homola, David Březina, and others to release their designs through TypeTogether. What do you look for in a new typeface? Is there a certain aesthetic or certain values the design or the designer should have to become part of the TypeTogether catalog?

TT: Quality is one thing and the design should fit into our font library. We also look for aesthetic values that we like or think would be interesting to our customers.

JF: What advice would you give to a graphic artist who is quite interested in type design?

TT: Go and look at old manuscripts, letterpress books; trace the shapes of the typefaces you like most; give calligraphy a try to experience where the letter shapes come from; read about typography and type design; take part in a workshop . . .

JF: What new typefaces or expansions do you have coming up?

TT: Adelle Sans, Adelle Cyrillic, Soleil Italics, Eskapade Fraktur, Bree Serif, and the 42 matching italic weights of Tablet Gothic, which will be coming very soon.

JF: You all are incredibly busy, so thanks again for taking time to discuss Tablet Gothic and TypeTogether. Can’t wait to see your newest family in use and to see what else you have in store.

TT: You’re welcome.

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If you like the samples TypeTogether made, grab the free semi-condensed extrabold weight of Tablet Gothic. Just add the correct weight to your cart and use the coupon code ba9daa9d when you check out.

With another superfamily under their collective belts — Ronnia has 28 weights, Karmina Sans and Adelle both have 12, Abril has 8 text styles and 12 display styles — José and Veronika could be excused if they took a short break. But their release calendar for the near future is looking quite nice, with several strong families preparing for their time in the spotlight.

As far as creating typefaces that are highly functional and carry a distinct voice, TypeTogether’s impact in six short years been stunning. And their effect on the way we read and feel text, as well as its myriad expressions, is only beginning.

Frustro Typeface: In-con-ceiv-a-ble

I love the impossibilist M.C. Escher. He was a brilliant artist with a true gift, and he dreamed of the most astounding things. Or maybe they were nightmares. Either way, he was capable of turning his mental dissolutions into tangible fancies for the eye. Escher was an ace at perspective and lighting and realism and angles and subtlety — all necessary for the work by which he would be remembered.

Based on similar impossible angles, the Frustro typeface by Martzi Hegedűs is a solid entry in the category of the odd. It’s a fantastic face in the vein of Escher’s work that does exactly what it sets out to do: give the illusion of simultaneously looking down on the character and up at it. Shading is key here, as well as using it in display settings. I like it a lot.

Frustro Typeface by Martzi Hegedűs

Frustro Typeface by Martzi Hegedűs

Another in this category is Priori Acute by Jonathan Barnbrook, but his looks like a mix of concrete and ribbon.

Priori Acute Specimen

Priori Acute Specimen

(Via Shawn Blanc.)

Stan Typeface from OurType

Stan Typeface from OurType.

Distinction wins the branding game, folks. So here’s a slab serif with an actual personality, meaning you’ll immediately be able to recognize this in a crowd of other slabs.

Stan Four-Weight Sample

Stan Four-Weight Sample

The j and f look like twins flipped upside down. I love how that north-bound ear on the lowercase g matches the rest of the slabs, but how the oblique angle breaks up the slab’s natural vertical emphasis. And I’m a sucker for the way the italic f drops below the baseline. I have always liked typefaces that make that choice. And notice how the lower left-hand side serifs disappear in the italic so the speed is emphasized. Very nice.

Stan comes in two versions: Stan and Stan Plus. The plus means that the ascenders and descenders are longer, which is useful when space is not a real concern. Think of it as the difference between Mrs. Eaves and Mrs. Eaves XL. And use it well.