News: Tagged as FF Mister K Informal

Through the eyes of three FontFont Designers: The challenges of designing non-Latin typefaces

The Serebro Nabora type conference took place this past week in Moscow. In the spirit of the event and as part of our recent Cyrillic updates for FF Mister K, FF Mister K Informal, FF Profile and FF Tisa Sans we asked the designers of these typefaces, Mitja Miklavčič, Julia Sysmäläinen and Martin Wenzel, about their experience with non-Latin extensions, as well as the difficulties they faced in these design processes.

FontFont Cyriilics

Creativity and communication is always at the FontFont forefront along with the aim to build typeface collections with different styles and purposes. Cyrillic is one of the most used writing systems in the world and the alphabet has been adapted to write more than 50 languages. Of the many scripts in use around the world today, Cyrillic is probably the closest in appearance and structure to Latin, particularly in the case of upright typefaces. For Mitja Miklavčič, the design process was not significantly different compared with his Latin designs, as in the case of FF Tisa or FF Tisa Sans. “The italics were a bit more demanding to draw, and personally I always find kerning in Cyrillic a bit more challenging, too.”

FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic

FF Tisa Cyrillic

Mitja Miklavčič began the Cyrillic portion of FF Tisa while studying on the MA Type Design course at the University of Reading. “We had some Cyrillic specialists visiting the Department. My initial sketches there were done for the serif part of the FF Tisa family. Although they were over six years old, they were a helpful start for the FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic.”

In contrast to Cyrillic type, Cyrillic handwriting is more abundant in its form variety. Julia Sysmäläinen’s primary challenge while designing FF Mister K Cyrillic and FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic, was how to interpret handwriting typographically. “Like all kinds of handwriting, Cyrillic handwriting can be very expressive. I had to find solutions that suited Franz Kafka’s manuscripts, which were always written in German. For this I studied both historical and contemporary samples of Cyrillic handwriting, asked Russian friends and colleagues to produce samples – and of course, I made many myself. Before 1907, Kafka wrote in a German Kurrent script, and analyzing this was interesting, because some of the letterforms resemble Cyrillic characters. I also found a prominent Russian contemporary with a handwriting style that fits surprisingly well to Kafka’s.”

Julia Sysmäläinen had always planned to make a Cyrillic companion to FF Mister K. “Kafka was strongly attracted to Russia, and he admired Russian writers like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Kropotkin. Soon after the release by FontFont, I made a limited Cyrillic version of FF Mister K Regular to submit to the International Design competition “Modern Cyrillic”, where it received a Certificate of Typographic Excellence. Later, I went at the design more thoroughly, creating extended Cyrillic character sets for both FF Mister K Regular and FF Mister K Informal.”

FF MisterK

FF Profile Cyrillic isn’t Martin Wenzel’s first endeavor into this writing system. “In 1992, FontFont asked me to draw a Cyrillic extension for my FF Marten typeface, which made me look closely at the script for the first time. The end result was no masterpiece, but still a good attempt to apply a simple modular concept to a different script. This was before I even studied Type and Communication Design at the Royal Academy in The Hague. With FF Profile’s Cyrillic, I talked with several designers about the script’s challenges in general, as well as specific letterforms. Over time I’ve consulted various books on the subject and completed my own calligraphic trials, which formed the basis for the structure of each glyph. If you can write it, you can draw it!”

FF Profile Cyrillic CharactersFF Profile Cyrillic

Like Martin Wenzel, Mitja Miklavčič also had professional experience designing Cyrillic typefaces. He has previously worked with noted specialists, such as Maxim Zhukov. “I grew up in the former Yugoslavia, so I learned Cyrillic in primary school. Serbian and Macedonian both use Cyrillic. That might also explain why I’ve decided to draw language-specific forms for those two languages as well. I always consult with any other designers, no matter what type of type design project I work on. A few colleagues have become close friends in the process.”

FF Tisa Sans is unique in that it not only includes support for Balkan languages that use the Cyrillic script, but also many Central Asian languages, like Turkmen and Kazakh as well, which are not frequently a part of many Cyrillic typefaces.

While Martin Wenzel and Mitja Miklavčič are not native readers of the Cyrillic script, Russian is Julia Sysmäläinen’s mother-tongue. “I’m the child of a Russian mother and a Finnish father, so I learned both languages during childhood. As a native reader, you grew up with all kinds of Cyrillic texts accompanying your everyday life, everything from shopping lists to letters, notebooks and advertisements. You get a pretty clear feeling of how far and where you can move away from some kind of norm, without your result looking awkward. If the script is new to you, you run the risk of being overcautious, or making naive mistakes.”

FF MisterK Cyrillic
In terms of OpenType features and character set size, the Cyrillics of FF Mister K are the most ambitious of FontFont’s new Cyrillic releases. “In Kafka’s manuscripts, readability was not a priority,” Julia Sysmäläinen mentions. “I carried this over into FF Mister K Regular as well. In its Cyrillic version, expressiveness and personality are paramount. Its style is easily readable for people who are at home in Russian and other languages with Cyrillic script, because context makes things clear, but it is not for learners of these languages. FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic is much easier to read, just like FF Mister K Informal’s Latin is. In Cyrillic handwriting some characters – especially д and т – can be written in various ways that do not really resemble one another; these forms can even be mixed within a single word.” This lively mixture is part of FF Mister K’s OpenType features, and it harmonizes well with Kafka’s turbulent manuscripts. FF Mister K Informal is more regularized, to stress readability.

As new communication methods continue to bring the world closer together, great typefaces have grown to speak for more languages and writing systems. FF Tisa SansFF Mister K and FF Profile join 30 other typeface families in the FontFont library with Cyrillic support, including FF Dax, FF DIN and FF Meta.

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New Release: FF 64

FF63 saw a FontFont milestone with the App+ license and this latest release is just as much an occasion as the last. With two brand new designs and Cyrillic language updates to three of our Pro packages, we have been counting down the days in high anticipation – we are simply super thrilled to bring you FF64.

New Designs

FF Mark

FF Mark

FFMark Showing

FF Mark Microsite

New meets old meets technic, FF Mark is more than just an average geometric sans. A special type project, Ze new Germanetric sans is a collaboration by Hannes von Döhren, Christoph Koeberlin, and the FontFont Type Department with creative support from Erik Spiekermann.

True to geometric tradition yet contemporary for today’s needs, the family of 10 weights ranging from Hairline to Black is designed with versatility in mind. Extreme weights have been engineered to shine bright in large sizes and middle weights optimized for body copy.

And to mark the launch of FF Mark, we are launching a new microsite to showcase and celebrate the thinking and creative process behind the typeface. Discover, interact with and download the exclusive Free Fönt at www.ffmark.com.

 

FF Kievit Slab

FFKievitSlab

FFKievitSlab Showing

Four years in the making and designed with utmost precision Mike Abbink and Paul van der Laan’s latest expansion of the FF Kievit superfamily has arrived.
The long-anticipated FF Kievit Slab has been carefully adjusted and fine-tuned in width and contrast to help make it an extremely robust and elegant typeface.

Much akin to its successful sisters, the new slab sibling comes in 9 weights from Thin to Black and matching italics, which makes it a perfect companion to other members of the FF Kievit family.

Typographical finesse has been delivered in the form of small caps, old style, lining, and tabular figures, and a mountain of OpenType glory.

The entire superfamily is well suited for editorial and book design, packaging and superfit for corporate branding and creative industries.

Language Extensions & Updates

Talk in even more type tongues with welcomed Cyrillic updates for FF Mister K Regular, FF Mister K Informal, FF Profile and FF Tisa Sans. Our extensive library also offer fonts for several scripts aside from Latin, including Greek, Arabic, Hebrew and even Armenian.

FF Mister K Regular Cyrillic

FFMisterKText Cyrillic

FF Mister K Informal Cyrillic

FFMisterKInformal Cyrillic

FF Profile Cyrillic

FFProfile Cyrillic

FF Tisa Sans Cyrillic

FFTisaSans Cyrillic

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Happy Birthday Franz Kafka from FF Mister K

FF Mister K

(Beetle image: Formatdelete)

Today is the 130th Birthday of one of the most significant writers of the 20th Century, Franz Kafka. Although many of his works were actually published posthumously against his wishes, Kafka has become a highly influential voice in literature renowned for his exploration of the themes of alienation, transformation and brutality.

A person called K appears in a number of his novels and the manuscripts of Kafka’s two best known novels The Castle and The Trial were the source of inspiration for type designer Julia Sysmäläinen, creator of the typeface FF Mister K. Sysmäläinen manages to capture the essence of Kafka’s erratic somewhat eccentric script, whilst maintaining a balanced typographic rhythm. Part of the FF Mister K family, FF Mister K Informal has a slightly more friendly, readable appearance and FF Mister K Dingbats contains a wide range of pictograms, from animals, plants, stars, famous buildings, faces to food and much more.

Another tribute to Franz Kafka is this beautiful video by Pablo Delcán and Peter Mendelsund.

 

 

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FF Mister K exhibition in Berlin

FF Mister K

On Friday, 21st September, over 80 graphic designers from in and around Berlin met at the Mota Italic Gallery for the opening of Julia Sysmäläinen’s exhibition, ‘Mister K and Franz Kafka’. Charting the tale of the ‘Real Travels of Mister K’, the exhibition focuses on how Franz Kafka’s handwriting developed and evolved over time, as well as on Sysmäläinen’s process behind reincarnating it in digital form as the FF Mister K typeface. 

 FF Mister K

The exhibition is both two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Featured work includes a number of recent books whose covers or jackets were designed with FF Mister K, as well as jewellery, prints, objects and typographic installations. Sysmäläinen produced a small booklet to accompany the exhibition, ‘Too long to tweet’ which features texts from many of Berlin’s most active type designers (and Twitter users).

FF Mister K

Julia Sysmäläinen (left) during the opening

The exhibition was originally scheduled to run through the end of October, but, due to its popularity, has been extended until 9th November. The Mota Italic Gallery is located in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, and is open Mondays to Saturdays from noon to 6 pm.

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FF Mister K & Franz Kafka Exhibition

FF Mister K

We are delighted to announce that FF Mister K, designed by Julia Sysmäläinen, will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Mota Italic Gallery in Berlin.

Charting the tale of the “Real Travels of Mister K”, the exhibition includes a focus on how Franz Kafka’s handwriting developed and evolved over time, and the process by which it was reincarnated in digital form as the FF Mister K typeface.

The featured work includes a collection of books – like the Mendelsund series by Schocken and the new Too Long to Tweet – as well as prints, objects and typographic installations that reflect the energetic, vibrant, humorous and above all eccentric nature of Kafka and FF Mister K.

If you are in Berlin between September 17 and October 27, be sure to check out the exhibition, or attend the official opening party with Sysmäläinen and the Mota Italic crew on Friday 21 September.

About Mister K

Franz Kafka’s manuscripts had such a profound impact on Julia Sysmäläinen that she undertook the difficult task of capturing his handwriting in a digital typeface. FF Mister K combines Kafka’s unusually strong calligraphic characteristics with a hefty array of OpenType features, delivering a powerful script font. First released in 2008, FF Mister K was successively extended by an additional typeface, FF Mister K Informal, in 2011. The design has already received several awards, including a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the TDC in 2012. Sysmäläinen is a Finnish graphic and type designer, based in Berlin.

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TDC 2012: FF Mister K Informal and FontBook

What a great start to 2012! One of our last year’s premiere releases, FF Mister K Informal has just been awarded the Certificate of Excellence in Typeface Design by the TDC (Type Directors Club)Congratulations to designer Julia Sysmäläinen, who spends hours and hours designing new typographic and graphic offspring to her popular FF Mister K family, with no end in sight.

FF Mister K Informal

FF Mister K Informal

FF Mister K is never really formal, but this K has even got the name “Informal” to emphasize the point. It is the most friendly looking K Family member for anyone who wants to make a personal, relaxed but also reliable impression. K Informal started in one of Franz Kafka’s Quart Notebooks with handwritten texts that look astonishingly clear. The letter forms are carefully placed line after line but still reveal the author’s characteristic writing style. The simple explanation is: These are final, rewritten texts.

The first version – loaded with heavy editing and correction marks – can be found elsewhere in Kafka’s literary remains. FF Mister K’s Regular and Onstage have many designer-friends. But they can be too unpredictable for down-to-earth target groups. So this clean and tidy looking offspring came to life – derived from Kafka’s stylistic repertoire and made for almost every user's needs.

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New release: FF56

FontFont designers have been recipients of prestigious type design awards, but few can claim to have been even before their creations were officially published. Ludwig Übele’s FF Tundra — a recipient of a Certificate of Excellence in Type Design at this year’s TDC2 competition — is now available for licensing. Other new releases are Jörg Hemker’s versatile sans FF Sero; the informal cousin of the popular FF Mister K; a monospaced variant for FF Nuvo; and stencil versions for the Danish sans/serif type system FF Signa.

The new designs

FF Sero

FF Sero

FF SeroJörg Hemker’s versatile sans FF Sero combines the striking forms of an American grotesque with the legibility of a humanist sans serif typeface. It has open contours, a distinct x-height and a homogeneous grayscale value. During seven years of development the classic letter forms have matured into a balanced, sovereign typeface. Eight harmonized weights and an extensive character set allow for a flexible and versatile typography. Cyrillic and Greek characters provide an extended language support.

For a limited time, FF Sero Medium is available for free download in OT, Offc and Web formats. Download it on the Goodies page.

FF Tundra

FF Tundra

FF TundraLudwig Übele’s award-winning design FF Tundra is a narrow serif typeface with stressed forms and soft contours. The idea evolved from investigating how a narrow typeface should look for optimal readability. To avoid a fence-effect, FF Tundra emphasizes the horizontal line. Ludwig Übele combined strong serifs, flat shoulders (see n) and open but heavy endings (see a, e, c) with a moderate contrast to achieve a balanced, legible typeface with a certain softness and humanity. FF Tundra has been designed for continuous text, but is also suitable for magazines and headlines (especially the Extra Light) and will surely work in newspapers as well. The family consists of six weights from Extra Light to Bold, each with Italics and Small Caps and many OpenType layout features.

FF Mister K Informal

FF Mister K Informal

FF Mister K Informal – This new design by Julia Sysmäläinen is the latest offspring of the FF Mister K font family. It began in one of Kafka’s Quart Notebooks with handwritten texts that look astonishingly clear. The letter forms are carefully placed line after line but still reveal the author’s characteristic writing style. There is a simple explanation: These are final, rewritten texts. The first version — loaded with heavy editing and correction marks — can be found elsewhere in Kafka’s literary remains. The strong personality of FF Mister K is often appreciated, but some designers find it too unpredictable for down-to-earth target groups. So enriching the K Family with a clear, friendly looking member derived from Kafka’s stylistic repertoire seemed predestined by the users’ needs.

FF Nuvo Mono

FF Nuvo Mono

FF Nuvo MonoSiegfried Rückel expands his magazine typeface FF Nuvo with a monospaced variant for all weights, including Small Caps and Italics. This offers new options for traditional and unusual designs. The design retains its stroke endings with “chipped” corners, which make them appear soft when seen from a distance or in small point sizes, but reveal their peculiar forms at a closer look. However its x-height was lowered somewhat in comparison to FF Nuvo to emphasize FF Nuvo Mono’s typewriter character. The calligraphic touch in the characters a, g and y make this typeface stand out among other typewriter-like faces, as do the alternate characters for a, g, k, s and y, which add typographic versatility.

FF Signa Stencil/FF Signa Serif Stencil

FF Signa Stencil

FF Signa Stencil/FF Signa Serif StencilOle Søndergaard’s stencil faces can be used to produce actual stencils, but more often than not they are selected for their unique aesthetic. It is fascinating to see how separate “floating” fragments combine to form recognizable character shapes. The way those letters are cut up gives a stencil design its specific character. FF Signa — a typically Danish typeface — is rooted in architectural lettering rather than book typography. This sans serif of concise letter forms and a minimum of detail joined the growing collection of sans/serif type systems when the serif variant was added in 2005. Now both versions are available as stylish stencil designs.

Updated and extended FontFonts

FF Info

FF Info

FF Info Text, FF Info Display, FF Info Correspondence ProErik Spiekermann’s and Ole Schäfer’s FF Info Office is the typeface Erik Spiekermann himself feels should be more popular “because it works well on screen and is really cool but nobody has found it behind the larger FF Info Text and Display families.” It has been renamed FF Info Correspondence to avoid confusion with the Office font format. The complete FF Info family, one of the best wayfinding type systems, has now been upgraded to Pro language support and has been carefully fine-tuned.

FF Profile

FF Profile

FF ProfileMartin Wenzel’s FF Profile is one of the more beautiful humanist sans serifs in the FontFont library. This clear, uncluttered and attractive family based on the broad-nibbed pen was already available in OpenType Pro format. Its character set was expanded to include Greek.

New Offc and Web FontFonts

FF Dolores
FF Dolores (Tobias Frere-Jones)

FF Gothic
FF Gothic (Neville Brody)

FF Kipp
FF Kipp (Claudia Kipp)

FF OCR-F
FF OCR-F (Albert-Jan Pool)

FF Sari
FF Sari (Hans Reichel)

FF Utility
FF Utility (Lukas Schneider)

FF Zwo
FF Zwo (Jörg Hemker, Henning Krause)

FF Zwo Correspondence
FF Zwo Correspondence (Jörg Hemker, Henning Krause)

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