Finished another Art Nouveau revival. This one fought me all the way; glad to see the back of it!

Let me know what you think! 


Comments

  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 999
    I’d be curious to see the source material next to this. 
  • edited April 7
    Here you go. The 1912 Specimen Book of Schelter & Giesecke: 




  • André SimardAndré Simard Posts: 159
    I've a question. Can we pick an existed specimen and redraw it without any modification or only on a few of glyph?
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 999
    edited April 7
    Thanks. It's a curious melding of Arts-and-Crafts squareness with Art Nouveau organicism. 
    I think basing your Q on the open-topped O was a mistake—better I think to start the round stroke at the bottom left and go clockwise. Yours looks more W-like.
    I don't think the X works, but how to make an all-diagonal glyph in such a rectilinear style is of course a dilemma. 
    Meier's L has some charm but seems to me difficult to parse when followed by lowercase. I keep imagining an s there ("[seipzig," "[sigaturen"). 
    I don't quite get why he made those diagonals in B and R so thin. 
    The (unligatured) c might be a bit narrow in non-German texts. Maybe cap C too.
    I really like how the specimen has very slight registration issues for the different colors (visible around the initial M) to give it some letterpress flavor! [or maybe it's just the drop shadow that gives it that effect (though I see it around the green P too)]
  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 26
    The tightness of the c_h ligature bothers my eye a bit, but my mind understands the logic. Other than that, I think it's a delightful and faithful-to-the-spirit-of-the-original, yeoman-like piece of work.
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 606
    I'm glad to see the photos of the original from which it was derived. They confirmed my suspicion that your version is at least slightly more square and rectilinear than the original - based on having seen similar old typefaces before.
  • Looks like Hebrew to me.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,534
    I note the language-specific c_h and c_k ligatures—very nice! 
    And the stay-indoors umlauts in the caps.
    It looks like you have a capital Eszett, as well—or is that ß doing double duty?

  • I think basing your Q on the open-topped O was a mistake

    I'll blame Herr Meier for that one - I had another, complete, though much less specimen to work from. 

    I don't think the X works, but how to make an all-diagonal glyph in such a rectilinear style is of course a dilemma. 

    I tried a few different approaches, but returned to Meier's idea, though I made the stems a lot beefier than his. 

    Meier's L has some charm but seems to me difficult to parse when followed by lowercase. I keep imagining an s there ("[seipzig," "[sigaturen"). 

    Yup, I'm putting in a less fabulous L. (I've already added a "normal" H)

    I really like how the specimen has very slight registration issues for the different colors (visible around the initial M) to give it some letterpress flavor!

    Yes, it did look awfully flat, so I added a shadows and highlights. 
  • I note the language-specific c_h and c_k ligatures—very nice! 
    And the stay-indoors umlauts in the caps.
    It looks like you have a capital Eszett, as well—or is that ß doing double duty?
    Yes! As of last year, I've been putting cap Eszett into all my fonts. And the Umlaute are great fun - though I stuck the other accents on top.   
  • I've a question. Can we pick an existed specimen and redraw it without any modification or only on a few of glyph?
    Sorry, I don't understand your question. Are you asking how I drew a complete typeface from a partial specimen?
  • I'm glad to see the photos of the original from which it was derived. They confirmed my suspicion that your version is at least slightly more square and rectilinear than the original - based on having seen similar old typefaces before.
    I've based it on the largest of the cuts available, so it does look a bit more angular than it would in the smaller cuts. 


  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 606
    edited April 8
    Looks like Hebrew to me.

    It reminded me a little of Hebrew, but the horizontal stress, and other characteristics causing the resemblance, may have been originally intended simply to give it that Art Noveau appearance. The original definitely was not intended as faux-Hebrew, in my opinion.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,865
    I've a question. Can we pick an existed specimen and redraw it without any modification or only on a few of glyph?
    “Can we” has many interpretations, I think!

    Technically: obviously yes, as Oliver has done here.

    But there are many other potential issues: legal, ethical, and interpersonal.

    Will anyone have a legal basis for giving you trouble? For this, there are two aspects: name (can be protected by trademark), and the design/appearance (can be subject to various design rights, including design patent and copyright, depending on the jurisdictions involved).

    Trademarks can last forever, and expired trademarks can even be resurrected by later entities (e.g. Bank Gothic).

    The various visual-related rights each have some kind of maximum duration, but as far as I know, any printed sample over 100 years old is safe for legal design rights.

    At an ethical level, that is more complex and open to debate. But, if there is no direct owner of the original IP, I have no trouble with somebody else doing a new version. For example, all the old ATF typeface designs are fair game, even if some of the names have been re-trademarked.
  • I think I'm in the clear with this one 😄
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,865
    Heh. Yes, I should have been more clear on that.
  • Frode HellandFrode Helland Posts: 144
    edited April 9
    Can we pick an existed specimen and redraw it without any modification or only on a few of glyph?

    If you are not adding anything new to it or making something better then what already is, I think selling new typefaces that are based on old specimens is a waste of everyone’s time.

    We adhere to Norwegian law that states attribution is required even if your source material is in the public domain. I believe EU law follows similar principles. US law might differ. If I published a typeface digitised from a specimen, I would list the original designer alongside whoever produced the digital Bézier curves. When we draw inspiration from older typefaces, we always make sure to credit these in the design text that accompany each release.
  • edited April 9

    If you are not adding anything new to it or making something better then what already is, I think selling new typefaces that are based on old specimens is a waste of everyone’s time.
    Depends on the intention. As a matter of fact historical typefaces always where imitated, recut or digitised. As original as possible or with improvements. For fun, reconstruction of books or modern use in display or advertisements.

    Of course credit the original designer and everybody involved or contributing is a matter of ethics and documentation.

    If the original design is not a trivial one, it is protected in most countries 70 years after the death of the designer. In this case of an Art Nouveau display type I would assume a classification as non trivial design by German jurisdiction.

    E. g. if I want to make a revival of the Art Nouveau typeface "Makart" maybe designed by Anton Durstmüller the Elder (Poppelbaum foundry), it maybe is still protected until 2031, because he died 1961.

    Another example: The Cloister Initials by Frederic William Goudy (1865-1947) are free since 2017.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 999
    If you are not adding anything new to it or making something better then what already is, I think selling new typefaces that are based on old specimens is a waste of everyone’s time.


    Does making it in a format that is actually usable in a digital world vs. no-longer-sold metal sorts count as adding something new to it or making it better?
  • Dan ReynoldsDan Reynolds Posts: 134

    AFAIK, German copyright law does not apply to typefaces’ visual appearances. Typefaces can be registered with the patent office for a design patent (and they are), but this only lasts for a limited time. I think that the maximum – including renewals – is 35 years today. Around 1900, the maximum number of years that a typeface’s design could be protected was shorter. Back then, Schelter & Giesecke would almost certainly have registered all of their new designs with the Leipzig Muster-Register for protection.

    I state this as a matter separate from ethics. It might be legal, in the German context, to make your own version of a 36-year-old typeface, as long as you do not use any of the original typeface’s certainly copyrighted source code, and you don’t use the typeface’s name (if trademarked). But I would definitely find it unethical to make your our versions of a 36-year-old typeface, even if the original designer died 35 years ago.

    Where to draw the line is the question, because it is a matter of ethics, and not law (in this limited range … I am not a lawyer). I think that John Downer, in Call It What It Is, suggests that typefaces that are older than 100 years old might be alright to revive. And that seems like a good rule of thumb. This typeface here is even older.

    Like Frode says, I think that type designers on their websites and in their marketing materials should always mention their sources, and I also think that revivals should be listed as co-designs, with the old designer and the new designer both named, etc. But this is fortunately a rather common practice these days. It strikes me as quite the honest thing to do, too.

    I think I have high-jacked Oliver’s thread, so I will close by saying: Oliver! I am so happy that you seem to be so happy redrawing all of these old art nouveau typefaces. Keep doing what you are doing, and I will keep looking at them.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 606
    If you are not adding anything new to it or making something better then what already is, I think selling new typefaces that are based on old specimens is a waste of everyone’s time.

    I see that Craig Eliason has already made the exact same point as I was going to make in response to your post: something is already added if a typeface that is no longer available even as metal fonts can now be used by anyone with a computer and a laser printer.
    However, a qualification is in order. If a typeface existed long ago, and was not then found to be of enough merit to keep in production, for someone to come along and revive it does create the question of whether it is worth the effort.
    Even in the era of phototypography, many 19th Century typefaces were revived because they were applicable to display use - even if the way in which they were used was very different than that in which they were used in the 19th Century. Sometimes the typefaces were altered to look less dated, and sometimes that was not needed.
    One interesting consequence of the Norwegian law, though, is that in some cases where it is legal to copy the design of a typeface, giving attribution would run afoul of trademark law at least in other countries.
  • edited April 10
    John Savard said:

    However, a qualification is in order. If a typeface existed long ago, and was not then found to be of enough merit to keep in production, for someone to come along and revive it does create the question of whether it is worth the effort.

    Sure, there's a lot of material that's better off dead. But the way I see it, each revolution in typesetting left a lot of good type behind, because it wasn't in fashion at that time.  We all know how fashion works - everything comes around again, only these typefaces can't. Is that grave robbing? Or is it archaeology?

    I've been doing this for the last 25 years because it pleases me the same way archaeology and fossil hunting please me – pulling something long-forgotten back to light, polishing it a bit perhaps, and giving it a new lease on life; for me that's a reward already. Of course, when I see my work pop up in movies, or book covers, or shopping bags, all the better! But take my revival of Hiawatha, for instance. It's an utterly impractical typeface with zero market potential. I've sold perhaps a single copy. To me, that's ok, because I loved it so much. 

    Now, I would sing a different tune if I didn't also have a day job to support me. However, the thought of having to compete in today's type industry scares me so, I'd rather pick a different field. There's such a torrent of new type, much of it almost indistinguishable variations on the same themes. I don't have the artistic talent or hubris to think I could make a meaningful contribution. I'd rather stick with revivals.  
  • edited April 10
    Schelter & Giesecke would almost certainly have registered all of their new designs with the Leipzig Muster-Register for protection.
    Dan, I hope they did, and I hope the register survived the war! Tally Ho!




  • Dan ReynoldsDan Reynolds Posts: 134
    Oliver, I have done a bit of research into this, including speaking with employees at two German patent office locations, and at a university office dealing with patent registration & research. Unfortunately, (West) Germany only created a centralized archive of design patents in the 1970s; older design items whose protection periods had expired were not included and the Amt does not have any info about them at all. As I hinted at above, there was not one central Muster-Register in, say, 1906. So Schelter & Giesecke would have used the Leipzig registry, which would have been under the purview of the Leipzig law courts. I have not looked into the case of the Leipzig registry specifically, so I cannot say if its archive survived the war or not. Maybe! I usually look for notifications of registrations instead of actual files. Those notifications always ran in the Deutsche Reichsanzeiger, and for typefaces often also ran in Journal für Buchdruckerkunst. The OCR-search for the Reichsanzeiger is getting better, but it is still a bit hit-and-miss for now. I feel really bad about high-jacking your thread, so if you have any more questions about this just e-mail me!
  • Frode HellandFrode Helland Posts: 144
    Not in any way reflecting on Oliver’s work, but I think a revival that doesn’t engage critically with the source material is pointless. Others surely disagree.

    I’m on the fence about the value of making something old available in a new format, but recognize that this is an area where type design departs from other creative work.
  • [...] a revival that doesn’t engage critically with the source material is pointless. Others surely disagree.
    I see myself more like a restorer of vintage automobiles - I get them back to their original splendor and make them safe for today's roads. Sure, if I see opportunities for improvement, I do what I can, but I don't want to deviate too much.
    So maybe I need to not call my work "revival". "Resurrection", perhaps?  
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 606
    Sure, there's a lot of material that's better off dead. But the way I see it, each revolution in typesetting left a lot of good type behind, because it wasn't in fashion at that time.  We all know how fashion works - everything comes around again, only these typefaces can't. Is that grave robbing? Or is it archaeology?
    Please don't get me wrong. Unlike the previous commenter, I am disposed to be highly favorable towards efforts to once again make available typefaces used in the past that may be of use or interest in the present.
    I was simply conceding, as you do by saying "there's a lot of material that's better off dead", that the other side is not without its point. Even though I did get a detail wrong by not remembering that good typefaces can temporarily go out of fashion.
    And, indeed, there's a rather glaring example of that in typography: where would we be without the types of Nicolas Jenson, Aldus Manutilus, and Claude Garamond... which for a long time were pushed into obscurity as Scotch Roman took over the world?
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