Where do you want to drive?

I love this quote by John Hudson which just popped up in a discussion about type classifications:

Tinkering with the wheel alignment of a car that might turn out not to have an engine seems pointless, especially if you haven’t even decided where it is to which you wish to drive.

This actually fits all design processes. No, life in general.


Font-Shopping Continues

In case someone actually still wants to buy fonts this year I better hurry up with my report. Alright, what more did I buy?


Okay Type:
They (Jackson and his cat) have some really super fonts in the making, but only Alright Sans is ready for licensing yet. I had kept track of this interesting amalgam of a sans for quite some time already as it gets mentioned almost every day on typophile. Not purely humanist in style and proportions it combines open forms with the regularities of a classic grotesque and daring slanted a’s and g’s as alts in the italic. Makes me think of good ol’ Syntax and the Ideal Italic again.
Due to my (meanwhile) mission to get as many different families as possible, I just boughts five single weights at MyFonts because one can only get the whole family on Okay Type’s website. (Why?)

Now while I was there I did what probably everybody does at MyFonts from time to time—getting a couple of free fonts. Not many of them are suitable for professional design work, but in my opinion the typefaces by Jos Buivenga are. I got some complementary styles to the free version of Calluna, a versatile text face (and since Christmas joined by a sans to become a super-family) plus the flamboyant conceptional experiment that is Geotica—a high-contrast Didone only built up of geometric elements. The different fills, swashes and ornaments make it an exciting display venture.


The Asset:
All those typefaces hopefully complement the ones I got earlier this year:

Eames Century Gothic* Modern: I just had to order immediately, it simply is the impersonation of Erik van Blokland. One can dive deep into the individual shapes for days, the display styles make instant logos (beware, not allowed in basic license), the ornaments and numeral fonts are a playful plus. So enjoyable.

Hard to avoid the typefoundry Bold Monday this year, especially Nitty, which is surprisingly comfortable to type text in and Panno by Pieter van Rosmalen. I started out with the friendly priced sampler and got the full family of Paul van der Laan’s humanist sans Flex later.

Half way through my shopping spree Commercial Type, or rather Christian Schwartz announced the release of Neue Haas Grotesk to be near. Halleluja! Ever since working on the Helvetica Forever project I wished for that to happen. (We actually wanted to type-set the book in this newly digitized version back in 2007, but somehow either it wasn’t ready by that time or they didn’t manage to sort out the legal issues, so we ended up with Neue Helvetica.) I have no idea whether I’d ever use neue Neue Haas Grotesk, it’s just so tempting to get and be it only to show the world how Helvetica was meant to look like. But—maybe later.

Because all of a sudden the tide was turning: the notice of some unexpected debits abrupty shrunk my font-budget by almost 50% (now ~1500 €). But there was still so much left in my FontShop, A2 and MyFonts Carts :/
So these, among others, are typefaces I unfortunately had to skip (I should make a shortlist of nearly-bought fonts at some point):

Freight Micro, Text and Display I’m in love with this extensive super family by Joshua Darden/Garage Fonts for quite some time now. Especially the Micro (Italic) styles have great display qualities, too, although originally designed for extra small text.

Hercules, a quirky Modern/Scotch by František Štorm and also his
Farao, a playful take on the Clarendon genre. I like most of his typefaces although you realise some similarities after a while (the a’s e.g. are typical), but that is the case with other great type designers, too, like Gerard Unger or Fred Smeijers (his g’s and ß’s).

Lavigne got postponed as well, a dulcet text face by Ramiro Espinoza with great ampersand and complementing display styles for even more lavish demeanor.

Relato by Eduardo Manso attracted me with its distinct cursive. The rather low-contrast makes it a designated book face suitable for long-distance reading.

Iowan Old Style by John Downer, a calm, no-fuss text typeface, quite atypical for him actually.

Grot 10 from newly formed foundry A2. I especially like the true italics, which are still rather unusual for an “old-style” grotesque. There have been a lot of these kind of revivals popping up lately, like Plan by Typotheque, Fakt from Ourtype, Embarcadero by Mark van Bronkhorst or the recently expanded Founders Grotesque from Klim, to mention a few. Type expert Stephen Coles even names 2010 the year of the Helvetica replacements.

On that note, let me put you off until the third and final installment with some more shopping-occurrences, my final receipt and conclusion.

Font Shopping (Part I)

Last week I found myself faced with the rare and luxurious task to spend quite some money, quickly, and on something typography related.
I guess I’m not alone with this end-of-year-business-expence problem, so instead of a list with cool things in type 2010 I want to share my shopping experiences here.

As kind of a warm-up I ordered a couple of books and studio-material — easy — followed by some software, but I figured investing in fonts would be a lot less age sensitive and a more sustainable way to spend the remaining rest of this non-recurring source of capital. But what to pick?
I have a good overview and dialog with German and neighbouring European foundries, the classic Adobe Font Folio and ancient URW collection but what was kind of missing were the more independent anglo-american contributions of the past years.


So I started my stroll — at Font Bureau. I love them for their varied collection of part vernacular, part sophisticated typefaces, a lot with display styles available, and webfonts of course (but better avoid the “wacky” section).
My cart filled quickly, felt a bit like the old game »Ich packe meinen Koffer und nehme mit …«:

Amplitude: Because I fell in love with the triangular opening at the base of the a. A big fat wide compressed family presumably suitable for almost everything. Not too gruff, yet not too friendly (I got a bit tired of all those numerous humanist sans recently).

Farnham Text + Display: The a again, it won me over ever since I first saw it. I’m into baroque, Baskerville-ish typefaces for quite a while now and Farnham is a very amicable interpretation of the theme. I buy my daily Frankfurter Rundschau just because of this.

Giza: Yeah! Who can resist Nine Five? Now to find the right occasion to use and not only look at it.

Ibis Text + Display: “Very small and very big” are probably the best applications for Ibis. It resembles the feel of Zapf’s Melior and other squarish, almost-slab-seriffed 1950s typefaces I like a lot. Didn’t use it up to now, but Ibis does an amazing job as a webfont, especially on windows. Bold italic!

Meno: An irresistable cursive, like a bacchanal exaggeration of Galliard. Probably tricky to typeset but I definitely want to take the challenge and spend some time with her one day.

Miller Text + Display: Hard to go wrong with Miller, one of my all-time favourites. A versatile workhorse for tons of text with crispy, sexy display styles. Yum!

Prensa: As an admirer of Dwiggins one simply has to love Prensa (and Delicato and Enigma). Edgy, hardheaded, yet very legible and with great display qualities, too. Once again: bold italic!

Skilt Gothic: A better replica, derived from 1920s Danish signage lettering, this new release is a good alternative to DIN or when you want to say “industrial and undesigned”. Cool g and y, both one- and two-storey a’s and lots of other OT goodies (yeah, still rare but finally pro/premium OpenType arrived at Font Bureau, too).

Titling Gothic: Incredible, huge Grotesque families are FB’s specialty, so choosing a sans and picking styles from their ample palette was extra hard. I went for Titling Gothic because it somehow stands in the middle between the eccentric Bureau Grot and the more sane Benton Sans and Franklin. I would have liked Boomer Sans, too, but that sounded difficult to license.

Trilby: Well, what to do with Trilby, posters probably. It’s just so damn cool.

Whitman: I have to admit, it’s not my favourite but it seemed an expedient investment. Maybe it’s the a (again, they are my acid test), or that it is so perfectly balanced, but Whitman is a good alternative for Joanna, often described as a difficult diva. Or Scala.

Zocalo Text + Display: It definitely is the a! Freakish italics, cantilevered serifs in the caps, very readable in text, quirky at display sizes, simply a joy to look at.

I didn’t select all those typefaces at once. But after putting like 10 fonts in the cart I noticed a significant drop in price, even though I didn’t get the full families but only individual weights. From 40$ in the beginning the price per font decreased to 35, 30 and finally 25$ only. That’s awesome! And dangerous.
From then on I was lost. I forced myself to take a break, shopped at some other manufacturers and wholesalers and decided to fill my parked FB-cart with as many fonts as possible at the end of my trip.


Stop 2: Hoefler & Frere-Jones
They make very good, downright perfect typefaces, no doubt. I like them, really. But somehow everybody loves HFJ and regard them as the authority in quality fonts — it doesn’t make me want to use their typefaces so much anymore. Everybody else is using them already.


Stop 3: Process Type
Right on time the nasty* guys at Process Type announced a 25%-off christmas sale. Not easy to keep me from buying something with a wallet so loosely in my pocket. I got Locator, a versatile, uncluttered Sans with cool Q, J and l (a bit like in Neuzeit) and freaky Maple because I couldn’t resist the g and e, r and a are so cheerful in bigger sizes.


As mentioned earlier I mainly roamed through the collection of the smaller independent foundries and I have to admit “evil”* MyFonts came in really handy during my expedition. I’d rather spend my money directly on the foundry’s site but it can get quite tedious to look up all of them individually, creating an account, providing payment info etc. So I lazily filled my cart at this central market place. Besides MyFonts’ search, mark, save, rate, tag and easy-use test-facilities are just super practical (plus some foundries don’t even sell their fonts on their sites).

While browsing some “new-and-noteables” I went astray and came across an ancient all-time-favourite of mine — and simply melted away confronted with its light italic: Bitstream’s Schadow by Georg Trump, one of my favourite designers anyway. Look at the g!


End of day 1. To be continued with some okay type, more hands-on shopping experiences, my in- and out-takes, reciept and conclusion.


Die tollsten Schriften des Jahres* (Teil 1)

* und andere ** typografische Ereignisse
** persönliche

Hinüber ist bereits der zweite Advent und so komme ich langsam in eine Stimmung, die in den nächsten Tagen sicher jede zweite website übermannen wird: ein Jahresrückblick. Und was war das für ein Typojahr!

Es begann gleich sehr aufregend. Mit völlig eingerostetem Englisch quälte ich mich zu Beginn des Jahres mit meinem Vortrag für TypeShed11 in Wellington, eine tolle Konferenz Mitte Februar nur lächerliche 36 Flugstunden entfernt.

Paul van der Laan sandte mir kurz vorher eine gerade fertig gestellte Schrift, an der er mitgearbeitet hat, und die ich gleich für meine Präsentation ausprobierte. Ich würde sie gar als die Neuerscheinung des Jahres bezeichnen: FF Milo Serif von Mike Abbink. Wunderbar klar, lesbar und freundlich, auch auf dem Bildschirm, in Drucksachen sowieso. Für mich eine der universellsten Leseschriften und mit ihrer serifenlosen Mutter sehr vielseitig einsetzbar.


Gleich nach unserem Neuseelandausflug lockte Anfang März die Robothon Konferenz in Den Haag, auf der neben dem neuesten Schrei der font-Technologie (z.B. Glyphs) auch die Schriften des Type]Media-Kurses zu sehen waren. Eine meiner Favouriten der letzten Runde ist nun seit Mitte des Jahres bei Fontshop erhältlich: Novel von Christoph Dunst.


Dazu gabe es eine wirklich beeindruckende Ausstellung zu Ehren Tobias Frere-Jones, der den Gerrit-Noordzij-Prijz vor zwei Jahren erhalten hat. Dieses Jahr bekam ihn Wim Crouwel.


Anfang April war ich auf der 33pt-Konferenz in Dortmund und habe endlich mal wieder Martin Majoor getroffen. Wir fachsimpelten über die Geschichte der Akzidenz Grotesk (da ist was im Busch) und die kurz zuvor veröffentlichte Ludwig seines Studienkollegen Fred Smeijers. Einen der sympathischsten Vorträge des Symposiums hielt Jos Buivenga, bekannt geworden auf myfonts mit innovativen Kostenmodellen und zu einem ernst zunehmenden Schriftgestalter herangewachsen (vor wenigen Minuten veröffentlichte er die Museo Slab). Mit Martin hat er in Dortmund ihr Gemeinschaftsprojekt Questa ausgeheckt. Wir sind gespannt.

Zwiefelsohne war die Ourtype Ludwig von meinem alten Meister Fred die am kontroversesten diskutierte Neuerscheinung des Jahres. Auch ich fand sie auf den ersten Blick erst mal erschreckend (uah, dieses a, diese G!). Aber sie hat was. Sie will polarisieren, unperfekt und ungewöhnlich sein. Sie bezieht sich deutlich auf die ersten, rohen, von hier aus unbeholfen wirkenden Serifenlosen des 19. Jahrhunderts, wie alte Stempel, Schelter & Giesecke oder Stephenson Blake Schriften. Ein wohltuender Gegenentwurf zu den sleeken, inter-polierten (ha!) und auch irgendwie austauschbaren Neohumanistsanserifgrotesken. (Zitat des Jahres von Claus Eggers Sørense). Hyphen Press hat dieses Jahr das Verlagsprogramm aus der Ludwig gesetzt und ich finde sie dort erstaunlich ruhig und selbstverständlich im Fließtext. Außerdem gibt es Alternativzeichen für die gewagtesten Buchstaben. Ja, es war Liebe – zwar auf den zweiten Blick, aber Ludwig ist sicher auch die interessanteste Serifenlose des Jahres.


Zurück aus Raabs // Reiseplan

Was war das wieder ein herrliches Symposion der Typographischen Gesellschaft Austria … kann man gar nicht in Worte fassen. Neben fachlicher und menschlicher Inspiration und einer Menge Rabl habe ich vor allem Senf davon getragen.

Mehr Bilder flickern bei flickr und picasa.

nächste Reispläne:
diese Woche Bonn
3.9. Saarbrücken
6.9. Offenbach
7.9. Merzig

Fragment der Ganzheit

Neulich habe ich eine Stadtführung in meiner eigenen Ex-Stadt Fulda gemacht. Im zarten Alter vor 25 Jahren etwa hatte ich schon mal eine, aber die ganze Geschichte mit Bonifatius und dem Dom und dem Rest hatte ich irgendwie nicht mehr so flüssig parat.

Nach Bonifatius und dem Dom offenbarte sich hinter der Michaelskirche (ehemals – das will ich betonen, weil ich mir das immer gemerkt hatte – die zweitälteste romanische Kirche Deutschlands, bis zur Wiedervereinigung halt) … also offenbarte sich eine sehr große ganze Steinwand, die vor lauter Größe hier nur als Fragment und krückenhaft wiedergegeben werden kann.

Das sind bestimmt die größten, maschinell in Stein gekärcherten Groß-Buchstaben, die ich je gesehen habe (denn ich war noch nie beim National Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire aber dort ist ja auch eher das Ganze groß und nicht die einzelnen Fragmente).

In Fulda aber war unser Stadtführer Herr Uhlig groß in Form. Nach drei Stunden drängelten Lars und ich, dass wir jetzt mal endlich Richtung Stadt gehen müssten … müssen wir wohl noch mal wann anders machen, den Rest.

wellbeing in wellington

Viele Grüße aus erst San Francisco, dann Wellington und ab heute Abend Hongkong. Und Jule und Ralph und Ole und Catherine und Bruce und Kris und Lars.

Steinehauen Teil 2

Alle machten sich über den Titel unseres Workshops lustig, da mir keiner glaubt, dass Schrift »in Stein hauen« auf Niederländisch »hakken« heisst. Nun gut, jedenfalls haben wir Freitag/Samstag wieder zugeschlagen. Bilder wie dabei gewesen gibt es diesmal von Frank auf Typolyester:

Mein neues Firmenschild ist immerhin fertig geworden. Da kann der Umzug ja kommen.

Die Marmorversion ist noch in Saarbrücken, ab Januar dann in Bonn.

Fahrplanwechsel: Ihr Reiseplan 50/52:
10.-12.12. Saarbrücken
13.-16.12. Düsseldorf
17.-20.12. Saarbrücken
21.-23.12. Düsseldorf
24.-26.12. Fulda
27.-28.12. Weimar/Zeitz
dann Düsseldorf: einpacken, renovieren, umziehen