Category Archives: Countdown

Countdown: M

We’re getting down to the last full week of life as we know it. Passing today is M, set in Ramiro Espinoza’s KrulKrul draws from sign painter Jan Willem Joseph Visser’s curly letter style, developed in Amsterdam in the late 1940s.

M, set in Krul

Countdown: N

It’s the end of the world, almost. Making the most of today is lowercase n from Nicole Dotin’s Elena, a masterfully drawn, and as I’ve said elsewhere, immensely readable text face.

n, set in Elena

Countdown: O

Yes, if you haven’t heard, ours and all other businesses will be closed on Dec. 21st, due to the end of the world. Leading us toward disaster today is O, set in Ryoichi Tsunekawa’s Deluta Black, one of the truly great playful blackletters. There are others. Deluta Black’s roused, topheavy forms bounce as the reader’s eye walks them across the page.

O, set in Deluta

Countdown: P

Time rolls on toward the flash, bang, who knows what headed for us in a matter of weeks. Counting off today is P, from Othmar Motter’s ITC Motter Corpus™. Something about this face, in spite of it showing its age a bit, seems fitting for the time and subject. ITC Motter Corpus’s heavy, humanist forms, tall x-height, filled corners and sparkling details make the face an alluring treasure to rediscover.

P, set in ITC Motter Corpus

Countdown: Q

More doom and gloom on the FontShop blog today as we count down to the certain death and destruction that coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar. Getting us this far, is q, set in Fernando Mello’s FS Pimlico. You’ll find included in the Pimlico package a special cut of its black weight called Pimlico Glow. Allow the highlights to show through to their background, as we’ve done here, or layer the two fonts for highlights set in an arbitrary color.

q, set in Pimlico Glow

Countdown: R

Marking 18 days prior to the coming end of the world is R, set in Jim Parkinson’s Modesto. Though taken from the sign-painter tradition, Modesto is one of my favorite alternatives to the ubiquitous Copperplate Gothic. Its balanced, warm letterforms come in three widths, an initial outline, and an inline ‘Open Caps’ variant.

R, set in Modesto

Countdown: S

If you’ve not been following, I’ll explain: We’re counting down to the end of the world, using an albeit dated method of reckoning time, yet one praised for its accuracy, the Mayan calendar. Ticking off today from the final few weeks left is S, set in Patagon, from Latinotype. Patagon’s monumental letterforms, both solid and with decorative cuts, bring to mind the wonder that accompanies the discovery of the ancient peoples of the American continent.

S, set in Patagon

Countdown: T

Only a few weeks left. Leading us toward the end is T, set in Underware’s Dolly. Let’s take a good look at this text face, since we’ve got it up big. Note how the strokes bow, sway, and swell ever so slightly, capturing the movement of the brush. See how the loaded brush leaves the crossbar of the t a little heavy on the right side? The asymmetrical serifs offer a similar diagonal ‘pull’ to the face. You’ll find this tightly drawn brushwork throughout Underware’s library. Well, not for long you won’t. Underware is the collaborative effort of Sami Kortemäki, Akiem Helmling, and Bas Jacobs.

T, set in Dolly

Countdown: U

The end nigh. Here to remind us is U, set in Neplus Ultra, Mark Caneso’s experiment in how much weight a slab serif can take. These ultra-black slabs get their defining features by carving tiny bits of negative space into what’s otherwise a solid rectangle. Looking for a deep italic voice to pair with it? Give the curvaceous Sutturah, or shapely Fiance a listen. Time’s ticking.

U, set in Neplus Ultra

Countdown: V

It’s practically over. November’s up in a matter of hours, leaving us with about three good weeks in December before the moon is turned to blood and the earth is rolled together as a scroll. (Is it clear yet that I don’t know any proper Mayan world-end prophesies?) We’re already to V, set in Erik van Blokland’s FF Trixie. This monospaced marvel and X-Files star comes in two rough weights, with a new HD variant for maximum character alternation (10,000+ alternates). Get the whole FF Trixie story, trailer, etc. on the microsite. And remember, time is limited.

V, set in FF Trixie

Countdown: W

Leading us forward in our daily countdown to the end of the world is W, set in Cottonwood, the collaborative effort of Kim Buker Chansler, Barbara Lind, and Joy Redick while employed creating Adobe Originals in the late eighties and early nineties. Taking a look at the work of each, one finds that these designers had a real fling going with Wild West types. Cottonwood’s ornamented strokes put the weight at the top and bottom of the character, leaving spindly stems to hold the parts together. This pattern of reversed stress appears frequently among the wood types of the 19th and early 20th century. Another pattern among type designers you may not have noticed—is to name wood-type-inspired faces after types of wood: Mesquite, Birch, Maple, Poplar, Juniper, Willow, Pepperwood, Rosewood, Ironwood, just to name a few. You probably did notice. Oh well—not the end of the world.

Countdown: X

ITC Bodoni Seventy-two marks this, the third day of our countdown to the end, with an X. Unlike their romantic contemporaries the Didots, the Bodonis manage to present high court style with still a bit of down-to-earth-ness. Seventy-two is of course the optical size of the face, meaning it was designed specifically to be reproduced at display sizes ~72 pt. Looking through them, one can see how the lettershapes thicken up (lower in contrast) and become more caricatured as they progress from larger display sizes to smaller text sizes. And be sure to check out this face’s set of swash alternates.

Countdown: Y

Yes, we’re counting down to the end of the world. Today’s letter is Y, from Brian Willson’s Antiquarian, a draftsmanesque engravers face with cartographic roots.


Countdown to the End: Z

The end of the world, that is. The cataclysmic climax accompanying the final days of the Mayan calendar, as I read it anyway, (I could be wrong) is the stuff of Hollywood productions and Woodie Guthrie songs. But we’re going along with it. Here to start us off is Z from Marcus Sterz’s Letterpress Phosphor, a visceral, inked-up version of Jakob Erbar’s Phosphor, a weighty inline sans with bite. We’ll have one of these each afternoon right up to the end.

Nice knowing you.

Typographic Countdown — the last day before 2012

How to punctuate the end of a year‽ Interrobang is by nature a playful—and therefore perhaps not seriously taken—nonstandard punctuation mark. Its concept is credited to New York ad man Martin Speckter. Americana, 1965, was the first face to fully support the ‘interabang’ across all its weights. The mark still remains outside of standard character encodings and support is spotty across platforms, so for now, if you need it, it’s back to the glyph palette.

FF Ernestine by Nina Stössinger, with Armenian by Hrant Papazian, rejects the overlain interrobang construction for a wider, and certainly clearer mark, though its off-balance comportment introduces an element of comedy.

I remember something said by a speaker at the 2011 Brand New Conference on the subject of the interrobang, though I don’t recall who; He said the mark’s initial purpose was to indicate the asking of a question that immediately results in seeing the answer. Historically speaking, this explanation is unfounded. The interrobang was designed to do what bold underline italic does quite capably; yet I find this new thesis much better, and much more worthy of reflection. The idea that the answer lies in asking the question gives a kind of sublime hope. Putting together this countdown has caused me to get to the bottom of a few good mysteries, so I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Finally, as part of starting the new year with a bang, we’re offering a 15% discount on all orders up until Jan 2 that make use of the promo code Bang12. Happy New Year.