News: Tagged as In-use
Our founder, Erik Spiekermann tackles the typography of the Olympics with lightning speed and with the help of the Twitter community.
Borrowing a screen grab posted by Aegir Hallmundur, Erik spent thirty minutes on a little sketch to transform this
The original design included a number of common typographic mistakes: all caps (which makes it difficult to read), spacing that was too tight, use of italic (which was confusing and redundant), artificial small caps, messy gradations and an uninspired font choice (Arial).
Using his very own FF Unit, his quick fix improved the legibility, kerning and artificial small caps. His twitter followers then helped to finesse and finalize the picture. Together they proved what a difference good typography makes.
We love the result!
To help you navigate your way around our vast assortment of typographical treats, we made some changes last year to the way our library is structured and introduced three tiers: Premium, Collection and Free.
Over the coming months, we will feature our top Collection Tier FontFonts for a particular intended use and give you some handy tips and hints on how to use them. We’ve mentioned before that we are powered by music and although the summer may not be sizzling, the music festival season has certainly arrived; so first up in this series are our top ten typefaces suitable for use in music and nightlife.
Audience: Can a typeface look like music? Maybe. The right face for a violin concerto CD probably won’t be the best choice for a DJ’s website, though. When it comes to selecting type for music and nightlife, the right ones are all about appearances; legibility and even readability take a back seat.
Think of the great psychedelic posters from the ’60s or the dance club flyers from the ’90s – neither of these typically featured text that was easy to read.
The typefaces you select for music and nightlife should be geared toward the particular audience. Contemporary music needs type that feels like it was made now. ‘Corporate’-looking fonts will probably be the wrong fit.
Usage: Choose your type based on where it will be seen. Album covers, t-shirts and posters are an opportunity to create work that is illustrative and unique, while advertisements for an act’s concert appearances or for specific clubs offer less leeway
Fans will be able to pick out their favorite band from a sea of logos, but when you present information about where they will play, when tickets will be available and how much they cost, you can help the reader by listing these bits of information clearly.
Music and nightlife allow typeface combinations that would never normally go together in a corporate setting. Try to find imaginative styles for band identities, or for the venues where they will appear. Combine these with something clear and more subdued for everyday information; this stuff is less important in a visual hierarchy than the creative side, but it should still communicate what it has to.
Ecosystem: Type is just one element of the mix for music and nightlife. How does it combine with photographs, illustrations, or even simple fields of color? Words don’t have to be written with ornate letters to be decorative – big fat block letters can do the trick, depending on what other elements you mix them together with. Especially in this category of design, it is definitely OK to use all-caps text.
Although your design doesn’t have to be 100% about the type, good fonts will help strike the right tone. When you select your typefaces, think about what other design elements you will be combining them with. If imagery is a more important part of your band’s ‘identity’, take this into consideration. Sticking to one family with several weights and widths may offer enough versatility.
Have a browse of all our Collection Tier typefaces suitable for music and nightlife. Let us know which ones you would add to the list!
About our Collection Tier
Our Collection Tier FontFonts are a selection of cost effective typographical treasures offered as full-families. All packages are available in OpenType with Standard language support (with a few key exceptions) and are all affordably priced under €/$ 100 each.
About the Intended Use function
The intended use function helps you easily sift through the multitude of fonts on offer. With categories ranging from Book Text to Wayfinding and Signage, from Posters and Billboards to Festive Occasions, there are over 12 different intended use categories to help you find the perfect typographical match for your project.
Next up in our series — Our top Collection Tier FontFonts suitable for Sport.permalink
‘A fieldguide for makers. A love letter to Design.’
The Shape of Design is a beautiful and thought-provoking insight into the role of design as a way of planning and as a medium for change. It’s a veritable handbook not just for designers but for anyone who wants to make something.
Written by Frank Chimero, a designer, illustrator, teacher and writer based in New York, the book came about following a highly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2011. Set in our very own FF Quadraat by Fred Smeijers, the Shape of Design is available both in print and as an eBook.
FF Quadraat is one of the FontFont classics and has been part of our library since the early days. Over the years, it has grown into a formidable super family and in 2011 was completely overhauled and updated by Smeijers and our Type Department.
We spoke to Frank Chimero about his experience writing the book, his love of reading and his choice of typeface.
Over the past year, numerous great ideas have been brought about through Kickstarter, including films, products, even typefaces. Indeed at the next TypeCon 2012 there will be a whole panel discussion about using Kickstarter as a means to fund new typefaces. How did the experience influence your approach to writing the book?
Kickstarter opens up the creative process to an audience, and makes it feel less like a black box where ‘magic’ happens. This is both good and bad. It’s great because that openness turns a book into a continuum of experiences for the audience. They now have back-story and can connect to the work before they read it. There’s the story of making the story, and you can build a small community of people with that.
On the negative side, that openness turns the process into a kind of performance. The writer has people watching, and that can be stunting. There were several points while writing where things were a total mess, and I felt like I had to be very strategic about what I shared with the backers to make it seem like the train was still on the rails.
But let’s not be too dour about this stuff. The Kickstarter campaign gave me a year to think about the ideas I wanted to pursue. And now, there’s a group of smart people considering those ideas, and in certain cases, running with them. That’s marvelous. A miracle.
Frank Chimero’s ‘The Shape of Design’ – Table of contents; © Portrait by Jessica Hische
Your book is somewhat classical, in terms of proportion and layout. Your website is more whimsical and light-hearted. Did you find the printed book as a medium somewhat limiting, in terms of design and production possibilities?
No. My design choices were based on the writing, and I decided the words required a simple presentation. There was no need to get fussy with it, because I was confident in the ideas and happy with the writing’s clarity.
Many of the design decisions were also influenced by the affordances of ebooks and their readers. The cover was designed to be very iconic so I had a design system which could transition to each reading environment. The page size of the printed book was chosen to be similar in size to what would be experienced on an iPad or Kindle. The illustrations are two-color, because I knew I could make them look good on a Kindle, iPad, and in print.
Basically, I wanted to design a system that was flexible enough to keep its identity intact as the words went from place to place. I think it is possible to craft books in a way so that no reading environment is obviously inferior to another, whether printed book or ebook. Each piece has to shine on all the other parts to make a better whole.
Would you agree that The Shape of Design isn’t a traditional design book? Whilst there are passages where you mention things about your working process, there aren’t specific case studies presented, images of your work (other than the beautiful illustrations!), or a list of favorite clients, etc. Instead, your book is more a collection of stories about the design process?
I never wanted this book to be about my work or specifically anyone else’s. I think the title speaks to that: The Shape of Design is more about the field’s body of work. What happens if you group all the work together? What are the similarities, and what is it trying to do? Once you start thinking this way, personal examples or in-depth, individual case studies seem inappropriate.
The book is about being tasked to make useful things for others. That means being generous in who it uses as examples, whether graphic designer, poet, or chef. I wanted to pull insight from the outside. It also requires me to shine a light on the creative process in an abstract way, then consider the products of design as things that seek to produce change and be consequential. This runs counter to the usual presentation of design as a set of beautiful artifacts. There’s an important place for that sort of treatment, but this wasn’t it.
What was your ‘Why’ behind the Shape of Design?
I wrote the Shape of Design because I thought it was important to have a reminder of the effects of our work. There is beauty and consequence and joy to making things for other people, and I thought it deserved a rumination. I initially wrote it for my students, but in the process I discovered I needed it as well.
The Shape of Design is set in FF Quadraat, a rather traditional and classic text typeface. Why did you choose this one?
I read a book of essays by Michael Chabon typeset in FF Quadraat, and was really happy with the effect. The type felt warm and friendly, yet still refined and thoughtful. As you said, FF Quadraat isn’t a traditional text typeface, so reading Chabon’s book was a little bit less fluid than I was used to. It metered my consumption, and gave a better opportunity to reflect after each essay. I decided that this was something important to my book since it’s a shorter title, and while having a full arc, each of the chapters stands on its own.
You were an early adopter of webfonts. Is FF Quadraat the text typeface on your website at the moment because it is also the face of your book? Or, perhaps the other way around?
At first, my selection of FF Quadraat Web wasn’t an overtly conscious decision. I chose it as the typeface in Pages as I wrote, and my words seemed to grow into it. Then I stumbled upon Chabon’s book, became pleased with the fit, and changed my site to use the webfont. We’ve had a good relationship since then.
Your book is offered in a printed version and as an eBook. What is your preferred way of reading?
Fiction in print to shut out the world, non-fiction as an ebook to keep track of my marginalia. In either case, if I enjoyed what I read, I buy the nicest printed copy I can find. I want the things I love to be a part of my day-to-day life.
How did the process of writing this book compare to other long-term graphic design projects you have tackled?
I wrote this book over the course of a year, and I noticed that I developed a ‘window of approval’ that my lengthier design projects never had. I felt the things I had recently written were good, but the old parts always needed work, even if liked them before. So, I was perpetually out of sync with myself, where the person who was reading the words was conceptually further along than the writer who wrote them. It meant that I was growing, but it also felt like I was never getting closer to finishing, because I’d always have to go back two months later and fix what I wrote. Snake eating its tail, and all that.
My frustration came from a misunderstanding I think many of us have about creative work: we forget that doing the work makes us better, and being better makes us dislike the work that made us that way. Design seems to be more friendly to this problem, because big projects are typically released piece by piece, and you can course-correct over time. The work can exist in flux, where as a book has a canonical version. Books, unfortunately, must be printed all at once, so it’s easier to worry and toil endlessly. Now I understand why many authors spend five years on a book.
I thought writing a book wouldn’t be much different from writing essays. That was a naive thought. It is totally and fundamentally different, simply because you can’t hold a whole book in your head at once.
You have a fantastic ‘library’ section on your website, with brief descriptions of 45 books. Do you think that we’ll see more and more books like The Shape of Design in the future?
I hope so! There are solid fundraising platforms like Kickstarter, and small-run and vanity presses like Lulu and Blurb. Right now, there’s little in the way of someone publishing their thoughts, they only need to muster up the time and focus (which is a battle on its own).
I am excited about what’s to come. I foresee more opportunities to share what we write, and better things to read. It’s a good time to like words.
FF Seria started as a Latin script family; Martin Majoor began the design in 1996, and we released it in 2000. Nine years later, we brought FF Seria Arabic onto the market, which Majoor developed together with Pascal Zoghbi, a Dutch-trained type designer based in Lebanon. Their tandem Arabic family was the first Arabic typeface published by FontFont; it grew out of an earlier collaboration named Sada, which had been designed as part of the Khatt Foundation’s Typographic Matchmaking project.
Both the Arabic and English editions of Reflections on Islamic Art were designed by Muiz Anwar, a graphic designer based in London – and also a former intern with us at FontFont. Anwar’s solution for these books is reduced and thoughtful. Each edition is a mirror of the other. Images play the primary role in the design, often taking up full pages, or half of a spread.
In order for the Arabic and English titles to take up the similar amounts of visual space, the Arabic title employs long kashidas – or lengthening strokes. However, the English title makes use of additional space, too. Had Anwar set the English title in upper and lowercase, its words would have been much shorter; by switching to all caps, letterspacing may be applied. The combination of tracked capitals in English and kashidas in Arabic is an interesting solution.
The books’ colour palettes are reduced, drawing more attention to the images themselves when their appear. Text in the Reflections on Islamic Arteditions is always either black-on-white or white-on-black. The tables of contents are handled in a similar way as the books’ title pages. Yet the typographic hierarchies are not identical in each edition: for the English-language, author names are set in FF Seria Italic, setting them apart from the main text in FF Seria Regular. Whereas in the Arabic typography there isn’t an italic weight in FF Seria Arabic, so the Arabic text has a slightly more even feel.
FF Seria Italic is an upright italic. Its letters have only a minimal slant. This sets it apart from the italics in Majoor’s other typeface families; FF Nexus Italic and FF Scala Italic both feature a steeper slope.
Anwar is a type designer and letterer himself, and he contributed more to Reflections on Islamic Art than just its typesetting. Each chapter opens with a very short text in a thin, dotted-line constructed Arabic script that he designed for the purpose. The hard geometry and ‘digital’ nature of Anwar’s lettering in these books contrasts well with the pen-shaped form of FF Seria Arabic.
Regarding his design, Anwar wrote to tell us that he aimed ‘to reflect the architecture of the Museum of Islamic Art, an environment with an amazing collection of unique and intricately wrought works of art’. He continued, ‘the book is the building and its design is the architecture; its job is to maximize the impression the words and the images make on the viewer/reader. My design is rooted in the grid system traditions evident in the layout of Qur’anic and other Islamic manuscripts. Margins are wide and generous to allow the eye space to appreciate the variant detail of each piece of work. The reduced colour palette for the book is an extension of the architectural aesthetic I.M. Pei established for the MIA building.’
Great care has been taken to ensure that the harmony achieved and evident in an
Arabic spread is reflected with equal beauty in a Latin spread – with particular elements
reflected/reversed to conform to Arabic and Latin reading patterns. The grid layout for internal spreads is based on the proportions of early Arabic manuscripts, which characteristically featured expansive borders. Although these borders were often used for annotation, commentary and illumination, in many cases they were left blank, allowing greater emphasis to be placed on the content centralised on the page.
In our quest to make our website as functional and easy to use as possible, we have added three brand new features.
First up, is our gallery of FontFonts in-use. Now when you browse through our typefaces, you can browse a picture of each font in-use. Just click on the ‘camera’ icon on the browse page and the pictures of our type in-use examples will be displayed.
You can also view an in-use gallery of each indivdiual FontFont family. So whether you’re searching for all in-use pictures of the FF Unit family, looking for an example of what FF Meta looks like when used on the Mozilla website, trying to find out what FF Fontesque looks like on a bookcover, or if you’re simply after another way of browsing through our library, our in-use gallery offers you a real visual treat.
Discover the delights of OpenType
Through the advanced typographical control of the OpenType format you can bring your text to life with fantastic features such as small caps, tabular figures, swashes and oldstyle figures. Yet it’s often said that the true features and fantastic functions of OpenType can be hidden away, often undiscovered. We hope to change that with our second new feature which helps you to see how the OpenType layout features, that are included in each FontFont, appear. For example, when you click on the OpenType features of FF Scala Regular you can now see all the different features that the font contains and how they will appear in FF Scala.
Want to find out more about OpenType and its layout features? Check out our OpenType User Guide (247KB).
Our FontFont Library is home to numerous award-winning typeface designs and now you can easily see which of our FontFonts have won prizes. Just look out for the little trophy icon next to the font on the browse page. You can also read all about the typefaces which have been awarded accolades and prizes on our news section under Awards.permalink
We are sure you haven’t overlooked our in-use gallery on every family page. But what you may not have noticed is that this key feature of our site has just received a massive update. We recently uploaded over 2000 images representing almost every FontFont in our library, and will continue to upload more in the coming weeks.
So just browse on over to your favorite FontFont and get inspired by the in-use images to the right of the font’s description. The images offer you a peek at what is possible using a specific FontFont and explain how others have used that particular typeface on their projects. Most images even include a description and the designer’s contact information in case you’d like to hire them for your next project.
As always, Europe’s biggest design conference was awaited with much eager anticipation. As always, it was a tremendous success. And, as always, the visual style of the conference was carefully scrutinized by the critical eyes of the attending designers.
Traditionally, the conference’s theme motto changes every year and is interpreted by Berlin design agency studio adhoc. This year’s motif was “Shift”. To express this concept, Magnus Hengge and his team fittingly chose FF Scala, a FontFont classic, and paired it up with FF Basic Gothic, a brand new FontFont. While FF Scala has proven its flexibility and versatility for the last 20 years, FF Basic Gothic has yet to be put to the test at all. So it was all the more delightful that they both met the challenge head-on and mastered it with flying colors.read more