Type design hot takes

124

Comments

  • André G. IsaakAndré G. Isaak Posts: 611
    That comment was at least slightly tongue in cheek :-)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,924
    edited May 3
    It’s likely only problematic for “poly-scriptic” folk such as type designers.
    I always read the KIΛ logo as KILL, which doesn’t dispose me to travelling in one.
    There is a coffee shop nearby with the logo Σuphoria, which I read as… well, you get the picture.
  • Steve GardnerSteve Gardner Posts: 138
    It’s likely only problematic for “poly-scriptic” folk such as type designers.
    I always read the KIΛ logo as KILL, which doesn’t dispose me to travelling in one.
    There is a coffee shop nearby with the logo Σuphoria, which I read as… well, you get the picture.
    Talking of 'imaginative' coffee shop logos, I came across this a couple of years ago in Thessaloniki.


  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,483
    But not in this reproduction John, in which the background is a dull gradient.

    The full page reproductions in the Scholderer book include the background page, and collotype handles it very well. If the background is applied after the fact, then printing it in a spot colour is the best option (I have a nice Soviet lettering book with white backgrounds printed on grey paper: very nice effect).




  • The term “market saturation” is not part of the lexicon of type designers. Or maybe we do need another geometric sans serif, or another informal script, or another . . . ?

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,008
    Too many type designers design type for type designers and not graphic designers


    That may be. But I would identify
    "Not enough type designers design type for graphic designers and not type designers"
    as a problem, if it were the case, whereas the situation you identify, by itself, may mean nothing more than people who design typefaces as a hobby fail to make money at it.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,924
    edited May 5
    maybe we do need another geometric sans serif, or another informal script, or another . . . ?

    Over time, most foundries accumulate representatives of the major genres.
    ’twas ever thus.

    Some are more inclined to book and text work, others to trade and display.
    But sooner or later it seems that we stray from our initial comfort zone, building on the brand.

    I’ve dabbled in as many as I can. So many genres, so little time!
    I’d rather diversify in style than in language support.

    One idea that will never see the light of day (unless some app comes along that makes it instantly feasible): a mirror Shinntype site, with distressed versions of all my designs. But I suspect that such a distressing app would be more likely to be developed as a layout app feature or web site plug-in, rather like Photoshop filters. Which would drive foundry distressing to be more inventive and unique.
  • Russell McGormanRussell McGorman Posts: 248
    edited May 6
    Nowadays designers work too much by numbers. Equal stem widths for example. As if they don't trust their eyes anymore.

    Only because we can be accurate to a bajillionth of a unit, we are. Can't help it. 
  • John ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 55
    Clarification: my grumble was about the Th ligature in Roman type specifically, and Adobe Caslon especially (otherwise my favorite font package for both aesthetic and sentimental reasons.) It works much better in italic IMO. One pre-Slimbach instance I could find is Palatino foundry italic from 1951, per Bringhurst.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,483
    This week, I have been reading a book set in Adobe Caslon and it reminded me that the problem I have with the Th ligature is not its existence but that it is too tightly compressed horizontally: the space between the two verticals is too narrow, so disrupts the cue pattern learned from decades of reading (and writing). I don’t have a problem with ligating the bar of the T to the top of the h, but it needs to be closer to expected spacing.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,363
    Agree.

    Even as a fan of the Th ligature, and having made them for a number of typefaces: the internal spacing I find optimal nowadays between the T and first h vertical stem is much closer to the spacing of T+h without the ligature, than it is to the spacing between, say, two consecutive H’s. It needs to be recognizably a T and an h, not look like some new symbol.

    Spacing of ligatures is a tricky thing. Similarly with ff, ffl and ffi ligatures, the ideal spacing of the vertical stems is generally more than that between n’s. I think it is because the ligation is eating up white space; whether it is to maintain some sense of distinction, or to just keep a similar visual rhythm (or both!), one needs a bit more space.
  • These look better to me at the small size... way too close up close.
  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 685
    @Christian Thalmann I think the effect might be different in print — personally, I could hardly read a book set in Edita where one character’s name was Lettie, it tripped me up every time.
    To keep on-topic, here’s my (apparently) hot take: Inter is more than “a derivative of Roboto”. It sets differently, looks differently and feels differently — in my office it’s our go-to Helvetica Neue and San Francisco replacement, one that we would never trade for the “original” Roboto. Still, someone clashed with me on Reddit about it, seemingly wanting to prove that since the Roboto files were involved, everything in Inter is just remixed Roboto. What utter nonsense. Maybe we should start describing David a marble block derivative?
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 640
    I wouldn't describe Inter as a San Francisco replacement.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 378
    Late to the party but I took this photo a couple of years ago, regarding using accents and different characters for graphic effect, their entire branding and menu and signage used this mash up 
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 378
    My personal hot takes:
    1) I loathe old style numerals, and will almost always use lining numerals. 
    2) Lining numerals should be cap height, it is frustrating when they are smaller
    3) I have hated Gill Sans for longer than I knew anything about him. Primarily it is because of the lowercase /a and cap ‘R. I really dislike both designs. 
    4) flat-top 3 designs are superior to rounded 3 designs
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 378
    Bonus take: for print work variable fonts are confusing and unnecessary and feel like something font makers and sellers are pushing on to users mostly for commercial reasons instead of actually being useful. 
  • Rob BarbaRob Barba Posts: 80

    The term “market saturation” is not part of the lexicon of type designers. Or maybe we do need another geometric sans serif, or another informal script, or another . . . ?

    Actually, I'd just wish that we'd see some standardization in font "styles".  I've seen the current trend of loose, bouncy scripts called everything from "Wine Mom" to "Teenage Girl" to "Funky Grandma"? (no, that wasn't a font name, though if I make one, I'm calling dibs) fonts.  What happened to just "script"?
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,881
    Script is too broad a term for a wide range of fonts. The term covers everything from formal engravers hands to Mistral to the hundreds of Bombshell knockoffs on the market. So people have to invent new classifications. But I suspect the ones you mentioned would be considered derisive. Nadine Chahine’s CEDARS system is intended to handle stuff like this.
  • JLTJLT Posts: 3
    • There are enough straightforward geometric sans families. Don’t make any more. You can’t possibly introduce anything new that hasn't been done a thousand times already, and better.
    • The Th ligature is a beautiful thing, but decorative ligatures that add detail should be reserved for display typesetting.
    • We use too many emotional adjectives in type descriptions and marketing. I am probably guiltier of this more than any of you, given how much of the MyFonts marketing copy I write. "Friendly." "Sexy." "Outgoing." Just stop it already (I'm speaking to myself, too).
    • No more monospaced type outside of code, please. It makes me itchy.
    I've got a hundred more but they will be considered offensive, so I'll just leave off at four.
  • TimAhrensTimAhrens Posts: 36
    • “solving problems” is not an appropriate description of what type designers do.
    • “making decisions” is not an appropriate description of what type designers do.
  • My take: The ‘Th’ ligature is not a problem, only its design.

    I think it’s easy for designers to forget that a ligature is supposed to fix an optical problem — to eliminate a distraction, make text easier to read, or, you know, help. One of the most exciting things for a young type designer, I think, is discovering ligatures and designing them, and becoming fascinated with their shape, and designing them for sake of their own appearance. (I remember feeling this way myself, and I’ve seen it elsewhere.) In the case of Th, when this happens, it’s easy to miss that the T h spacing isn’t quite right, or that the shape is awkward.

    I’d guess that most serif typefaces could use a nice Th ligature. No typeface needs a bad one, though. It was definitely a Slimbach hallmark in the OpenType era, and I think he drew them just about right. I wish I could remember who drew Adobe Caslon’s. I want to say it was neither Carol nor Robert because my memory is telling me that, but I’m no longer sure. (Thomas, do you remember?) Maybe I don’t want to know, because I agree it doesn’t look very good as it is, and I don’t want to make it personal.

    Those of us who have been designing and looking at type for a while probably know by now that if a ligature isn’t helping, it shouldn’t be there (or on by default, at the very least). Ligatures, like some other typographic features, can be seductive to designers, but it’s nice to be older and wiser and realize that sometimes it’s better to just leave the letters alone.
  • Uh? Is the point to raise "unpopular opinions" to foster a fruitful discussion?
    Otherwise I do not see the point.
  • What are your most unpopular opinions about type? I'll start with a few of my own hot takes.
    1. I really hate small caps and I wish they would go away forever. I already have lowercase letters—I don't need mini version of capitals that look dorky.
    As an example: Small Capitals (aside from the fact one could "like" or not "like" them) are precious for an advanced level of formatting. They provide a level of formatting which is different compared to the one provided by Italics, as they are a "subdued", more modest representation of capital forms. So they offer the same expressive quality of evidence or authoritativeness without overpowering and within running text. Why do you feel them "dorky"?
  • They really just belong in display type.
    They did not originate in "display type" anyway. And when they solve an actual "clash" they are eminently useful and aesthetically good.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,363
    edited July 27

    I’d guess that most serif typefaces could use a nice Th ligature. No typeface needs a bad one, though. It was definitely a Slimbach hallmark in the OpenType era, and I think he drew them just about right. I wish I could remember who drew Adobe Caslon’s. I want to say it was neither Carol nor Robert because my memory is telling me that, but I’m no longer sure. (Thomas, do you remember?) Maybe I don’t want to know, because I agree it doesn’t look very good as it is, and I don’t want to make it personal.
    I totally do NOT remember. Which may be just as well. (If it was neither Rob nor Carol nor you nor I, was it The Organist? The Bay Swimmer? The Brewer? I know not.)

    One basic problem with the Th ligature is that it is easy to assume that the correct stem rhythm should be related to the normal stem spacing of HH and/or hh, or at least closer to that than it is to the starting spacing between T and h. But (only after much experience!) I have realized the opposite is true. Basically it should tighten as little as possible to the point it starts to look good. Too tight and it no longer looks like a T and an h, but like a single character, and that’s bad.
  • They did not originate in "display type" anyway. And when they solve an actual "clash" they are eminently useful and aesthetically good.

    Hi, Claudio...
    Given that the meaning of a hot take as I understand it, is a "piece of deliberately provocative commentary that is based almost entirely on shallow moralizing", my assumption has been that this thread is at least in part tongue-in-cheek. After all, is it even possible for there to be "deliberately provocative commentary" about type by Typographers and Type Designers?  :wink:

    I think what I was getting at was that the presence of non-standard ligatures for the sake of ligatures can be a problem in type meant for immersive reading. Sometimes they can be distracting and disrupt the flow of reading. A former colleague of mine said he hates ligatures. I asked why. He said because they're distracting. The thing is, when he has read things I had sent him, he just didn't notice the ligatures, which suggests that his problem wasn't ligatures per se, but ligatures in typefaces where he happens to notice them. 
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