U&lc Type Design Competition 1998: FF Clifford

January 1st, 1998

In 1998, the FF Clifford family won first prize in the text font category as well as Best of Show at the First U&lc Type Design Competition in New York. U&lc was a typographic magazine published by ITC until 1999, avidly read by type enthusiasts and sought after by collectors the world over.

Akira Kobayashi about his typeface: “In autumn 1997, I saw an advertisement for a typeface competition organised by U&lc, the graphic magazine published by the ITC. The competition had three categories: Display, Text, and Picture fonts. It was a good oppportunity for me to have my text type design assessed. All of the six variations were reviewed before the submission. I reviewed and revised almost every letter. It took longer than I had first imagined. Eventually the Clifford type received the Best of Category (text) and the Best of Show awards at the same time. In summer 1999, the type was finally published by FSI FontShop International under the name of FF Clifford. The total number of the family is 25, including fonts with lining figures, expert sets, and borders. In 2000, FF Clifford received the TDC2 Certificate of Excellence in Type Design from the Type Directors Club in New York.”

The first drawings of FF Clifford date back to 1994 and were inspired by Alexander Wilson’s Long Primer Roman type, which was used to typeset an edition of Pliny the Younger’s “Opera”, printed by the Foulis brothers in 1751. The Italic is roughly based on Joseph Fry and Sons’ Pica Italic No. 3 in their type specimen dated 1785. The Roman and Italic were combined to create FF Clifford Nine. Though based on hot-metal type, the face was not intended to be a faithful reproduction; in fact, designer Akira Kobayashi designed the font specifically for digital use. At the same time he wanted to maintain the optically corrected size variations commonly used for lead type so that the design would function as a text face in a variety of sizes. So he added two more versions, called FF Clifford Eighteen and FF Clifford Six. The former has more contrast in stroke, narrower letter forms and a tighter fit; while the latter is bolder and wider with sturdier hairlines and serifs and a looser fit. The three FF Clifford variations were drawn separately (rather than scaled) and some characters were changed to function better in the intended size. Overall the characters of FF Clifford Eighteen are more lyrical, and the characters of FF Clifford Six simpler than those of FF Clifford Nine. But the size indication is merely a recommendation; FF Clifford can and should be used as the user wishes, or as printing techniques dictate.

FF Clifford’s extensive character sets are sure to appeal to the typographically intrepid. FF Clifford includes a wide variety of ligatures, stylistic alternates and a collection of 18th century borders and ornaments.

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