Hi, all, this is my first post here, though I've met some of you online and in person.
I'm very new to type design, but I dove in after we hosted a Crafting Type event at the Electronic Frontier Foundation office in San Francisco with Dave Crossland and Thomas Phinney. Since then I've read a lot of books, and went to my first TypeCon this year. At EFF I am a product designer and web developer (though I come from a fine art background, having studied drawing and art history), and we're about to launch a new website, which I'd like to see come along with a new typeface -- called Barlow.
The font is in very early stages, even though it has a few weights now. It has a free, open source license (OFL 1.1), and currently lives at https://github.com/jpt/barlow
where you can download the source Glyphs file and the OTFs.
At EFF we do a lot of work around rights and freedom in the digital world. This typeface is named after John Perry Barlow, our ailing cofounder, as a tribute. We currently use a modified DIN Engschrift in our logo, and use it for our headlines. We don't want to make too radical a change, but we really want to use something open source if we can -- which causes the commercial saturation of multi-weight gothics to become a bit more limited. We will use this mostly on the web, at 24px-72px, with words in title case for headlines.
The only requirement
I have is that, at ~Medium/DemiBold, the words ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION
must look a bit like the current DIN. We are redesigning our website, but not rebranding entirely. It would nice to start using our own font in our logotype, however. I don't like the square bowls of BPR on DIN, so I've rounded them more like the ATF titling gothics.
As I worked on this I thought about Interstate and Highway Gothic and DIN as public signage for the highway, and what it might look like if we had one of those fonts for Barlow's highway, the information superhighway?
So initially, I drew something on DIN Engschrift's grid. I didn't use any one specific reference, but am well familiar with typefaces like the above, older stuff like Alternate Gothic #2
, Alternate Gothic #3
, Condensed Title Gothic #11
, Futura Condensed, newer stuff like Garage Gothic, Ultramagnetic, Italian Plate, Scout, Heroic, Rubik, Cervo, and so many others no so far off. I try not to let influence dominate choice but let's be honest, there are a ton of fonts in this category drawn on the exact same grid and they are baked into my brain at this point.
Even though we're moving from DIN, we'd like to have excellent legibility for our German-speaking friends. So I tried keeping lowercase and uppercase pretty similar. It works at light weight but at black, the font started to do something I didn't like, and that a few of the above fonts suffer from, which is become far too condensed as they gain weight. So as I played more and more, the lowercase began to resemble DIN less, and maybe something like FB Titling Gothic more, and the black caps became a bit blockier.
I will probably round the corners slightly. And maybe do a double-decker "a" if I can make the black weight work. There is no kerning yet.
It's hard to say whether or not this font will get used due to the time and budget constraints that come with non-profit work, but this is my first effort at a real typeface, and I think it's pretty good so far. Not great, but I can't put my finger on all the reasons why because my eye simply isn't good enough as a type designer yet. Hence: critique!
The spacing is done with the very impressive HT Letterspacer (I was previously using Glyphs arithmetic on side-bearings to use William Tracy's method in Letters of Credit
), which I am hoping to contribute to when I have more time, but Lukas Schneider was kind enough to agree to donate LS Cadencer to EFF, which we will evaluate this week (it is quite a tool from what I've seen in the demo). Maybe a little of each
Very interesting time for auto spacing tools that make it easy to work on a few weights at a time.
Anyway, I've included a proof at the most boring, "Regular" weight! The fonts are generated from two master with a few brace layers at Medium and Demibold.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated -- thanks! As I type this, I realize that the lowercase "a" (and all letters based on it) have optical corrections that make them too tall and pointy!