Tag Archives: handwriting fonts

Typographic Trends: Handmade

This is the first in a series of trends I see affecting typographic design written by me, David Sudweeks, Type expert here at FontShop. One of the prominent undercurrents I’m noting in design generally is the move toward approachability and authenticity. The movement is fueled by a growing skepticism toward the overproduced, highly finished corporate brand image – or in fact anything that appears too easily reproduced – in favor of a more substantial, personable connection to one’s professional services, goods, etc.. When designing for such an audience, details that reflect thoughtfulness and humanness, such as a bit of playful script lettering or an aptly placed tooltip that gently offers assistance, aid in building a relationship between people and the things we designers make for them.

On using the word typography: Type purists like myself generally don’t appreciate seeing the term typography thrown about so carelessly as to include anything remotely related to letter art, such as graffiti, lettering, sign painting, or handwriting. Typography is the use of type, and type is writing using prefabricated letters (to be unguardedly concise). Lettering, calligraphy, handwriting and traditional engraving, while not type, share many design aspects with type and in fact overlap in their definitions. Rather than focus so narrowly that these disciplines fall outside the scope of the series, I’m including them; noting up front that they’re not all typography.

That said, today we’re only looking at type.

Madelinette carefully reproduces Crystal Kluge’s handwork leading to a nice, approachable result. Crystal’s hand to paper to type follows the traditional model, though also in vogue is type that takes one additional step.

P22 Stanyan, like many members of the Hand-made, Hand-drawn, Paper-cut genre, draw type by hand, and then turn it into type. The application of the hand-drawn style exists across many genres of type. Some are even named after specific faces, like Gert Wiescher’s Franklin Gothic Hand.

In other faces, the influence of the hand determines the construction of the letterforms, like the decision to close the loop of the lowercase g & y in Veronika Burian and José Scaglione’s Bree.

In the next part of the series, we’ll stay on the subject of hand-made type, with an emphasis on it having a presence in the physical world.

Staff Picks: June ’11

Summer is almost here and instead of hitting the books and taking exams, our staff  studied the gems in the FontShop archives to find this month’s Staff Picks. Here’s a sampling of our June selections:

Refrigerator Deluxe

Aaron’s June pick is Refrigerator Deluxe by Mark Simonson. The beginnings of this design date all the way back to 1988, inspired by vague memories of block-style lettering from Mark’s youth. As time went on, additional styles and alternate glyphs were added, leading to its Deluxe release in 2008. While the basic block-style lettering remains by default, Refrigerator Deluxe can transform into a stylized Art Deco face, both with squared and open shapes, with the flick of an OpenType feature. This User Guide gives a great overview of the available glyphs and features, and how to access them in various applications.

Download Refrigerator PDF Specimen (152 KB) and User Guide (41 KB).

FF Sanuk

One of my own picks for this month, Xavier Dupré‘s FF Sanuk is deceptively buoyant: its squared veneer gives way to a calligraphic flare. Take the lowercase ‘k’, for example — the foot tails off in a friendly way that you might not expect upon first glance. FF Sanuk has perfect form and character for the web, and was recently released as a Web FontFont.

Download FF Sanuk PDF Specimen (545 KB).

Blockhead Alphabet

Theresa chose a blast from the past: Blockhead Alphabet, a classic display face from John Hersey and Emigre. One of my earliest lettering memories as a child is the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt when I discovered how to make letters look three-dimensional. (Of course, this meant that every time a class project required a poster or some other visualization, I had an extra task.) Blockhead Alphabet is reminiscent of that childhood discovery, right down to the details of imperfection.

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