Author Archives: David Sudweeks

David Sudweeks is a letterer and type designer. He works at his home studio in Berkeley and at FontShop’s San Francisco Office as their type expert. He writes for FontShop,, and occasionally on The FontFeed,

Marat and Marat Sans

Call me lazy, but sometimes I think it’s revealing to look at pairings where the faces are expressly made to work together. Today it’s Ludwig Übele’s Marat and Marat Sans.

Marat-and-Marat-Sans-1 Marat-and-Marat-Sans-2

Pervading both designs but particularly visible in Marat [serif] is a certain speed of stroke that snaps at the terminals. Marat Sans is considerably more calm in this regard, though its exuberance is undeniable in its heavier weights. Rather than assuming the more common role as a tempering force in the pairing, the subtle mischief of Marat Sans’s forms only encourages its serifed companion’s playfulness.

Marat-and-Marat-Sans-3 Marat-and-Marat-Sans-4

At text sizes, Marat reduces to a pleasant texture, setting economically on the line.

Marat-and-Marat-Sans-5 Marat-and-Marat-Sans-6

That’s it. Great Pairs continues here Wednesday. Both Marat and Marat Sans are participating in this year’s March Madness.

March Madness begins Wednesday, March 19th.


March Madness begins on the 19th in the Southwest corner of your bracket. Popular vote determines the winner of each round. Single elimination. Research the typefaces in the tournament here at FontShop or in the FontBook App. Want a reminder in your inbox the day of the first round? Sign up for our Newsletter! Thanks to Sutro Deluxe, Miller, and MVB Solano Gothic for setting the nameplate and serving as impartial referee.


What are you waiting for? Print and fill out a bracket now; (it’s a PDF). And see you March 19th!

Update: The bracket has been updated. We forgot and left out ITC Franklin when this bracket was initially published. (There it is just above FF Netto in the Southwest corner.) If your bracket says Today Sans here, that was our mistake. Just relabel it ITC Franklin or grab the new bracket.

FF Quixo and MVB Solano Gothic

Today we take a look at the interaction between a couple of recent favorites of mine, Frank Grießhammer’s FF Quixo and Mark van Bronkhorst’s Solano Gothic.

To those who know its creator, FF Quixo is an autobiographical work—a serious piece of design that doesn’t take itself so seriously it fears a public perception of goofiness. The face achieves a nice texture both on the micro and macro level with a neat, quite carefully orchestrated, yet not-too-careful-looking speedball lettering approach. At size, FF Quixo’s text weight reads like a slightly upped-contrast Clarendon. MVB Solano Gothic stands in striking contrast, a set of two architectural-lettering–inspired alphabets that capture well the feel of American public building signage from, say, 1960. Drawn initially as a single style, caps-only typeface, the design was expanded to include a lowercase and small caps, in a range of weights, both in regular and Retro variants. The generous all-cap spacing seen below is activated via OpenType’s case feature, All caps, or by using the dedicated Caps font singles.

FF-Quixo-and-MVB-Solano-Gothic-2 FF-Quixo-and-MVB-Solano-Gothic-3

The characteristic held in common by each is that it’s a current reinterpretation of an old familiar standard. And to me, what makes the pair, is the particularly visible wink at the audience from the vantage point of the faces’ sources. Both evidently designs contemporary to the here and now, they stand as reminders that those draftsmen, letterers, and type designers who came before us also were confronted with the same challenges of form that we face today, and that they humbly achieved greatness through the same sensitivity to form that great work has always required.


I just as well add that FF Quixo has a fantastic set of dingbats, and that Solano Gothic sets short bits of copy just fine. To end, the below example shows what happens when you convert the eszett or German double s ligature, ß, to all caps—it becomes SS (as it should). Though recent attempts have been made to establish the validity of a capital German double s ligature, our two type designers in question today remain firmly opposed to such a step. That’s why I find it an act of supreme humility that Frank Grießhammer includes in FF Quixo the character in both cap and small cap form. He does exile the two to the glyph palette, with neither discretionary ligature nor stylistic alternate / stylistic set access by way of OpenType.


That’s all. Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

New Fonts This Week

Dalton Maag

Prometo, webfonts included


As marked, Prometo (above) and Soleto (below) are going for half off for the first 48 hours. That gives you until 09:00 UTC on February 27th when this offer expires.

Soleto, webfonts included


Liebe Fonts

Liebe Doris, webfonts available



Carabelle, webfonts available


Freude, webfonts available


Sauber Script, webfonts available






Vicomte FY, webfonts available



Kill Joy, webfonts available / Kill Switch, webfonts available / Kill Zone, webfonts available


Onomatopedia, webfonts available


Continuing Promotions

Supernett cn Family by FaceType50% off until 27 February

Squirrel, Saya, Maryleen, Brixton, Achille, Booster Next, Younion, and Vidok by FONTYOU50%-85% off until 28 February

Lalola by Type-O-Tones20% off until 28 February

Schwager Sans Family and Schwager Sans Family Web by Latinotype75% off until 2 March

Evergreen by Sudtipos30% off until 2 March

All Typefolio30% off until 5 March

Australis Swash Pro family by Latinotype – 50% off until 17 March

Ride my Bike Serif Pro family and Essential family by Latinotype – 70% off until 17 March

Nitti Grotesk by Bold Monday30% off until 30 April

Want detailed showing of new fonts straight to your inbox? Make sure you’re receiving them in your inbox. They may be getting lost in the Gmail promotions section. If you use Gmail then you can drag and drop the FontShop Newsletter from your Promotions Tab to your Primary Tab.

Adriane and Brooklyn Samuels

Today we take a look at the pairing of Marconi Gomes Lima’s Adriane and Hans Samuelson’s Brooklyn Samuels.


A recent expansion of the Brooklyn Samuels family gives us four new numbered widths from (if I were to name them) compressed to normal. Its unusual constructions and softened corners create a casual and inviting texture. Adriane’s strong Neoclassical core gives it the ability to play it straight, though its lively gestures serve as a strong unifier.


The two create a nice cohesive relationship. Brooklyn Samuels irons out much of the bounce in Adriane, and gives its eccentric italic and swash forms license to relax and be themselves. The text preceding No. 4 above is tracked open slightly to allow its setting of a short passage at a smaller size.

Adriane-and-Brooklyn-Samuels-4 Adriane-and-Brooklyn-Samuels-5

That’s it. Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.

Parkinson Electra and Metro Nova

Let’s look at the pairing of two successful Dwiggins revivals today, Jim Parkinson’s Parkinson Electra and Toshi Omagari’s Metro Nova.
William Addison Dwiggins’s work is marked with a distinctive American voice, and in its forms, an intense preoccupation with detail, a push to ever hold the reader’s attention with an enlivening texture. Both faces exhibit a certain fanciful approach to lettermaking that favors innovation over convention. Note how the serifed face below, Electra, compromises the construction of its lowercase g without sacrificing in the least its stateliness or legibility. Metro gets a similar clickety-clack rhythm from its varied gestural axes and terminal angles.

Parkinson-Electra-and-Metro-Nova-2 Parkinson-Electra-and-Metro-Nova-3 Parkinson-Electra-and-Metro-Nova-4 Parkinson-Electra-and-Metro-Nova-5

That’s it. Great Pairs continues here Wednesday.


Crafting Type passes through San Francisco

If this time last week you were to ask me how one goes about teaching the fundamentals of type design to beginners, (and do it in three days), I’d say it can’t be done. It’s too complex of a topic. There are too many prerequisites.


So when friend and type designer Eben Sorkin raised the question of FontShop hosting one of these weekend workshops at our San Francisco office, of course I said yes; if only to make time for the two of us to catch up. I should also admit that my curiosity as to how one of these events would play out was a big motivator.


Eben walks one of the Crafting Type attendees through some examples of how a typeface’s formal characteristics serve in giving it a particular personality.

Things got off to a good start Friday morning with a sketching exercise designed to let a few letters materialize together, starting very loose, progressing toward dark, carefully delineated forms. The multiple-pass process—lightly sketching out an idea with a pencil, no contours at first, stopping and observing, adding another layer of pencil, reevaluating and making changes as necessary, building up another layer, and finally drawing and filling the contours—allowed for major and then finer adjustments and corrections to take place gradually. We followed this process all the way through a few times, each time laying out our work, making observations as a class, and adding on a few more letters.


Throughout the workshop, Eben, and two additional teachers, Vernon Adams and later Dave Crossland punctuated supervised work time with short presentations on the subjects of letter theory, capitals, modularity in design, type personality, vector drawing, diacritics, etc.. They even invited me to give one on optical correction using material I had produced for an earlier student lecture. Near the end of Friday, everyone had prepared a brief they’d pursue over the next two days.

The first printouts came on Saturday morning after font composing software was finally finished installing on everyone’s machine, and each had their own first go of it. Saturday and Sunday were spent locking in the spacing of the control characters (the ones that determine the spacing for all the rest of the glyphs) and gradually adding more, testing and getting feedback along the way. It goes without saying that no one finished their project before time ran out on Sunday evening, but of course, finishing was never the point. In my estimation, the process of getting started alone has set these students miles ahead in their understanding of how type is used and produced.

One thing notably missing from this workshop was any real mention of open font licensing or libre software, (I guess I had expected it), the focus instead remaining fully on design principles and practical techniques. Before we all left for home, we familiarized the class with the best resources for getting help with their projects, whether through online discussion or in-person events, such as TypeCon or TYPO San Francisco. Thanks to everyone who came and contributed.

Bullen and Rhode Wide

Today’s pairing is Juliet Shen’s Bullen with David Berlow’s Rhode Wide.
Bullen-and-Rhode-Wide-1 Bullen-and-Rhode-Wide-2We’re really just looking at one small part of the larger Rhode family, which draws from American gothic wood type. Bullen is likewise an synthesis of several ATF faces, each chosen for its quirks. In spite of its quirks, Bullen produces an immensely readable result.
Bullen-and-Rhode-Wide-3 Bullen-and-Rhode-Wide-4

Together, the pair is possessive of a kind of charm that comes from a carefully controlled clumsiness. Rhode Wide emphasizes Bullen’s economical fit.


Great Pairs continues here next week.

FF Tisa and Pilcrow


Bringing us a type palette with a subtle bounce today is the pairing of a long-held personal favorite, Mitja Miklavčič’s FF Tisa, and Satya Rajpurohit’s recently released Pilcrow. Though Satya’s work through his own Indian Type Foundry focuses mainly on Indic scripts such as Devanagari, Tamil, or Gurmukhi, his latest release demonstrates a developed understanding of the Latin alphabet, and a new perspective at the intersection of geometric and industrial gothic.


Pilcrow offers enough structural reinforcement to complement well FF Tisa’s casual demeanor. Unifying the two is Pilcrow’s own playful take on what would otherwise be featureless curves and joins. This is particularly evident in the heavier weights of the blunted variant, Pilcrow Soft.


As Tisa progresses in weight, the face advances from a relatively narrow fit to a comfortably wide stance.

FF-Tisa-and-Pilcrow-2 FF-Tisa-and-Pilcrow-3

That’s all. Catch Great Pairs here each Wednesday.

New Font Promotions

Just to recap, these new releases come with the following promotional prices:

Al Fresco Bold by Laura Worthington 30% off through 21 Jan
Grota Rounded by Latinotype 50% off through 22 Jan


Politica by Sudtipos, now extended from 16 to 36 weights, 50% off through 26 Jan


Whirligig / Big Cheese

This post is part of a daily series that adds one ornament per day to our blog, up till today.


It’s been a great year. Happy new year.

By repeating and rotating relatively small elements Zuzana Licko created fascinating ornaments that look like you are viewing the world through a caleidoscope. Combine them into majestic decorative tapestries. The central icon comes from Big Cheese, a unique collection of clip art with implied levels of meaning but no real meaning – hopefully through usage the dingbats will start to have a meaning.

The Ornament Series was produced collaboratively by David Sudweeks and Yves Peters.

Ornament (from ParaType)

This post is part of a daily series that adds one ornament per day to our blog, up till the new year.


Elvira Slysh’s collection of delicate and robust forms offer the typographer a finely graded palette for pattern work. The typeface is known simply as Ornament.

The Ornament Series is produced collaboratively by David Sudweeks and Yves Peters.

Liza Ornaments

This post is part of a daily series that adds one ornament per day to our blog, up till the new year.


Underware’s magnificent interpretation of fine brush lettering marries calligraphy to commercial sign painting and vintage advertising scripts. Lovely ornaments let you embellish your declarations of love. From Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs, and Sami Kortemäki , this is Liza.

The Ornament Series is produced collaboratively by David Sudweeks and Yves Peters.

Baskerville Original

This post is part of a daily series that adds one ornament per day to our blog, up till the new year.


As far as we know, Baskerville never used ornaments, though as is noted in the introduction to Frantisek Storm’s Baskerville Original, his bookbinder did.

The Ornament Series is produced collaboratively by David Sudweeks and Yves Peters.


This post is part of a daily series that adds one ornament per day to our blog, up till the new year.


During this series, we’ve leaned pretty heavily on William Addison Dwiggins, a self-named “black-and-white-smith.” Though he had a firm grasp on color theory, this one’s color palette is dedicated specifically to him, and what he could do with just black and white. The typeface is his own Caravan.

The Ornament Series is produced collaboratively by David Sudweeks and Yves Peters.