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We are proud sponsors of the Ampersand web typography conference heading to New York on 2 November 2013 and one lucky type fan will have the chance to be part of the event.
To be in the running to win a ticket to Ampersand NY, simply share with us your favourite web FontFont in use. Please also include the URL the site of the font in use. Tweet us your answer and tag it with #ampersandconf by Friday 25 October, 4pm Central European Time (CEST).permalink
Every three months we name our highest climbing fonts in the popularity charts for the past quarter. We call these our ÜberFontFonts.
Seven years in the making, the striking and classic letterforms beautifully matured into a flexible and versatile typeface containing eight harmonized weights and an extensive character set. Additional language support including Greek and Cyrillic are also included. The top climber in the popularity font stakes, FF Sero has indeed proven to be every bit worth the while.
Mike Abbink is one of those rare designers whose careers successfully straddle the worlds of typeface design and graphic design — two disciplines that are actually further apart than most people think. He also straddles another chasm: the Atlantic Ocean. With strong ties to a Dutch heritage, being born in America has never kept him far from his roots, both physically and culturally. It could be argued that it is Abbink’s ability to draw from these diverse experiences that has made his FF Kievit thrive. It’s perennially on the list of FontFonts that are best known and used. Now the family has a Slab partner as individual yet interrelated as its designer’s divergent backgrounds.
Mike Abbink: FF Kievit Slab has its origins in early 1998 when Nike asked MetaDesign to revisit its original script logo and make a more modern version. One of my ideas was to use FF Kievit and add slabs to it. This was even before FF Kievit was even finished and a few years before its release by FontFont.
FF Kievit is rooted in the proportions of a serif and it only makes sense that it should have serifs and in this case slabs as well. This led to the exploration I did to determine what the slabs should look like. The obvious first sketches were straight forward Egyptian-style block slabs but these ultimately felt too clunky for FF Kievit. They needed to have some elegance and a finesse to match what I think is inherent in some of the typeface’s forms. The slabs have a heaviness to them but they also taper and have a subtle wedge-like quality in the ascenders.
When Method rebranded Autodesk they used FF Kievit as the corporate typeface but wanted the logotype to have something different about it. The designers had been sketching using slab serifs and it was only natural to try one with FF Kievit to keep the link to the typeface. This is where I really spent more time trying to determine what a FF Kievit Slab would look like and what changes needed to be made. Unfortunately, Autodesk recently changed the identity again so they no longer use FF Kievit or the logotype I did.
A few years ago the agency responsible for the rebrand of WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk, a German broadcasting institution) asked me if I had any slab sketches or serif sketches which I did have but were not totally worked out. This is when Paul van der Laan and I really started working out the details and presented to them what these could look like. Luckily for us, the WDR decided to go for it and we have spent many hours together designing the serif and of course finalizing what is now FF Kievit Slab.
Adding the weight of the serifs also meant that the contrast needed to increase. The horizontals and thin joints got a little thinner across all glyphs. In addition, many of the forms needed to be made wider and accommodate the slabs. You’ll really see this in the lowercase k, s, v and x for example.
FF Kievit underwent a painstaking transformation in order to
gracefully accommodate serifs.
Stephen Coles: So FF Kievit Slab began “way back” in 1998. In our rapid release tech startup culture it’s unusual to see creative projects with such a long timeline. What are the affects of a multi-year gestation on a design?
MA: The duration lasts long for me since I’ve always worked full-time as a designer working long hours already. You can imagine working the late nights and weekends can get exhausting. The ongoing years can affect the typeface but overall I would say very little. The early FF Kievit Slab sketches for the Nike logotype had a slightly different purpose than say the Autodesk logo which came years later. The prior was meant to connect to the original Nike script logo, so the slabs had round bottoms and it was using italic forms.
For the Autodesk logotype the letters were roman but in either case the top slabs were already pretty much defined and they in turn defined the bottom later on. I knew early on that I did not want the slabs to be straight up block serifs. They needed to have a bit of finesse and continue the inherent humanist qualities that FF Kievit already had in it. If I continued exploring too much it would extend my already very long design process as it is.
SC: Commissions and special requests often lead to new typeface designs. Since FF Kievit Slab began as the answer to specific needs (from Nike, Autodesk, WDR) I wonder how much they are responsible for this design’s existence and how they influenced the final product.
MA: In all the above mentioned cases FF Kievit (sans) was a finished design with an already strong vision for what it should be moving forward. I always wanted it to have a slab and serif (oldstyle) as part of the family. The Nike exploration was done even before FF Kievit was finished. The slab version was sketched out and pretty refined but across a limited amount of glyphs. The slab got more refined years later when Paul and I began the development on the WDR project three years ago. Early decisions like increased contrast and width adjustment were fairly obvious and took a lot of time getting right across all the weights. We also have different designs for certain characters in the bolder weights. But we really got excited when the WDR asked to add a serif to the mix. I knew my earlier sketches were not right yet and this gave us an opportunity to really develop the serif properly along with refining the slab.
The serif as a whole really went through a change from my original sketches, and that’s when Paul van der Laan and I got a chance to collaborate more than ever. It also influenced some decisions that required adjustments made in the slab version, like the bottom of the leg in the capital ‘R’. It was a great project because we were able to really focus on extending the FF Kievit family the way I had always envisioned it to be. I definitely look forward to finishing FF Kievit Serif because to me it represents my end goal of FF Kievit as a type family after well over a decade in the making.
SC: What are other catalysts for new designs?
MA: It varies a lot for each typeface I’ve been working on. For FF Kievit it was finding that spot on the scale that was somewhere between Frutiger and Garamond. For Brando, which will be released with Bold Monday in the next few months, it was trying to think of what a contemporary serif might and should be and balancing humanist and mechanical traits within each letterform. FF Milo was also meant to be universal, contemporary but very compact, with very short ascenders and descenders. Each project has a different set of goals, whether it’s my personal typefaces or commissioned ones for clients.
SC: Some type designers work best in isolation and find it very difficult to work with other designers on a single typeface beyond quick auxiliary feedback, but it seems like you and Paul van der Laan collaborate in a deep way. How did this partnership begin?
MA: I think collaborating with the right people is great and makes for stronger results. Paul and I started working together when Autodesk asked me to make additional light weights and also Greek and Cyrillic for FF Kievit which they were using as part of their new corporate redesign Method was responsible for. This was a pretty big project and I was super busy at work as a design director at Wolff Olins. The light weights were the first phase and that’s where I gave a lot of feedback, but Paul was able to tackle the project and really own most of the development, especially the Greek and Cyrillic. We again worked together in a similar fashion to add three additional light weights for FF Milo.
By this time we had a great working relationship and started a friendship that has been going on for over ten years. Paul also helped with FF Milo Serif on spacing, kerning and interpolations, as well as collaborate on NBCU Rock for NBCUniversal along with Pieter van Rosmalen. We are now all three working together on extending the GE Inspira family.
SC: How do you divide the workload? What are your respective strengths?
MA: It’s different for each project. For the FF Milo weight extensions (FF Milo 3) it was mostly Paul, but for FF Milo Serif I drew the forms and Paul helped refine spacing and kerning, and interpolate the additional weights. It’s a lot of work and he is better at it than I am anyway. In the case of FF Kievit Slab we divided and conquered. For instance, I started work on Regular and Black and then Paul jumped in on the Black and continued with Black Italic. We pass the weights back and forth until all the glyphs and refining is done. Then Paul really owns the files and does interpolations, final spacing, and kerning. We look at proofs together until we feel all the details are covered. It’s real team work, immersive collaboration. I prefer to work that way.
SC: FF Kievit (and the Slab) feels like it has a strong Dutch influence. Does that seem true to you? What does that come from?
MA: I would say it’s both American and Dutch! I’m a first generation American from parents who are both Dutch. I have been going there my whole life since the rest of my family lives there, and my Mom even moved back to Amsterdam seven years ago. This background plus my design education has definitely influenced my design taste and sensibilities. I also learned early on in school about the great history of Dutch type design, as well as the new generation that has developed over the last two decades. FontShop International (with its roster of Dutch designers like Martin Majoor, Evert Bloemsma, Erik van Blokland and Fred Smeijers) also attracted me early on and I wanted to be part of that by trying to make typefaces that were well crafted and functional.
SC: Of course FF Kievit Slab is more than FF Kievit with slab serifs attached, and readers can see evidence of that in the samples. The most obvious adjustment made to the new family is the opening of apertures to make room for the serifs. But I noticed other lettershape changes too, such as a smaller upper bowl on the ‘g’. What accounts for that? What other structural changes did you make?
MA: After FF Kievit was released in 2001, the larger upper bowl in the lowercase ‘g’ started to stand out a bit too much to me. This was primarily in the lighter weights. I’ve been wanting to change it ever since then. So the Thin and the Regular poles were adjusted to have a smaller upper bowl and I left the Black as is with the exception of making contrast adjustments. The sans version of FF Kievit is now updated with this new ‘g’, too. The counters in the slab got even smaller, so it was an obvious change I wanted to make. That’s the only real structural change to original FF Kievit shapes besides some problem glyphs like the lowercase n, k, v and x which lost their inside serifs to get some negative space inside the tight counters. The comma and parentheses are different, too. I thought the originals were too vertical so we used the ones from the italic.
SC: I assume you would call yourself primarily a graphic designer who happens to also design type. How does the perspective as type user influence your typeface design?
MA: That’s a hard one for me. Recently I’ve been thinking of myself more a type designer caught up in doing graphic design. I hope to spend more time doing type design in the future. I do think my design thinking has influenced my type design. I tend to be very straightforward and minimal about my type just as I approach graphic design. FF Kievit, FF Milo and the upcoming Brando are great samples of how I try to reduce, but at the same time I like to maintain humanist qualities to showcase a kind of craftsmanship.
SC: Have you used FF Kievit Slab in any of your own projects yet?
MA: Not yet, but I plan to. I do find it weird to use my own typefaces, but I really like the Slab and the upcoming Serif which I think I’ll use a lot.permalink
We are very excited to be sponsoring the 57th annual Association Typographique Internationale conference. ATypI 2013 is taking place in the heart of Amsterdam city on the Dam square October 9–13.
The annual renewal of the international typographic community brings together typographers, type designers, historians, psychologists, programmers and graphic artists of the like.
“Point Counter Point” is the theme for the year, with the speaker bill including Irma Boom, Erik van Blokland, Albert-Jan Pool and Paul van der Laan. Keep an eye out for a few more familiar FontFont faces during the conference.
ATypI Amsterdam opened yesterday and will continue through to Sunday. You can see the full programme lineup here.permalink
Imagine a bar staffed by robots. Yes, robots are not unheard of, but it’s fair to say that three orange robotic arms that can mix and serve bespoke drinks in real-time classifies as impressive.
Cue in Makr Shakr. Unveiled at this year’s Google I/O conference, the fun, but serious installation and social experiment saw many a cocktail concoction crafted by three KUKA robots and delivered via a conveyor belt. And not to mention the elegant live digital tessellations of honeycombed data on-screen behind the “bar” and across mobile screens, keeping track of every shake and stir. People gathered with Makr Shakr app in hand, drinks were ordered, robots made and shaked.
The robotic bartending system was developed and designed by MIT Senseable Lab in collaboration with the Coca Cola Company and Bacardi Rums in partnership with Pentagram’s Eddie Opara and team, who were responsible for the identity, web application and data visualisation.
The design intent of the app was to match the agility of the robots, as well as the scientific, step-by-step process of assembling the drinks. Cue in FF ThreeSix. Paul McNeil and Hamish Muir’s experimental geometric yet optically balanced typeface embodies this sentiment visually and conceptually. On why it was chosen, Opara, lead Pentagram partner on the project explains – “It exudes technology and the future”.
FF ThreeSix is subtle and humanistic in an absurdly mathematical rigour. It has been sublimely applied as part of the Makr Shakr identity not just as an alphabet, but also shape and form. The beautiful lines, dots and sometimes blobs work seamlessly in large and small scales together with the organic and mechanical honeycomb system.
The beauty of the identity is not only in the conceptual execution, but is also in its application across the various platforms (desktop, web, app) and mediums (digital, motion, spatial). Opara and his team have played to the strengths of FF ThreeSix taking advantage of the distinguishing qualities between the various styles, mixing and matching them at different sizes and scales typographically and graphically.
The identity and application also demonstrates the versatility in the FontFont product offering and the benefit of having a library of typefaces available for multiple uses. The diversity in formats and licenses allows for more possibilities in application.
Male, Female. Bourbon, white rum. Lemon, lime, orange peel, mint. Mojitos or old-fashioned. Whether it be recipe, ingredient, drink or drinker demographics, or even what was currently on-drink-trend, the identity and data was magnificently visualised and optimised for the app and large screen display.
Makr Shakr is a fine example of possibility and how a typeface can work holistically to transform an identity.
For more on the making and shaking of the project head to Pentagram’s website.
We are delighted to announce that we will be sponsoring this year’s Typo_Mad 2013, the Typographic Festival of Madrid, taking place 27 September – 10 October.
The event combines conferences, typographic workshops together with the Type Directors Club (TDC) exhibition and on-line exhibition. It is open to all professionals, students and type fanatics with the aim to showcase and strengthen design and typography in Madrid on an international level. The cast of Spanish type talkers include Andreu Balius, Pablo Abad and Sergio Jiménez.
There are still a few tickets left so don’t miss out and get yours today!
Calling mad types!
If you can’t make it to Madrid this year, you can still be part of the Typo_Mad action via the Typo_Mad Expo.
The theme for this year is “the experimental and the amateur”, with the expo taking form in two parts – the curated exhibition showcase at Central de Diseño in Matadero Madrid as well as a virtual online gallery.
The exposition will accept typographic pieces that speak to the theme through applications such as: typeface design (calligraphy, dingbats, lettering), identity design, digital formats (opening titles, websites, TV spots, on-line works, animations, interactive project), emerging projects and yet-to-be published degree final projects.
The deadline for submissions is tomorrow, September 20, so get in quick!permalink
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 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.
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.
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.permalink
More than half of the world's population live in major cities. Developed by Lend Lease, The Green Building Converter is a sustainability tool that takes users on an interactive journey allowing people to navigate and learn about green building development. Daniel Utz’s clean and rounded geometric FF Netto strikes the perfect typographic balance alongside the 3D diagrammatic pictorial renders and animations throughout the site and brand identity communications.
Last week, Berlin hosted Jüdische Kulturtage 2013 (“Jewish Culture Days”), Germany’s largest festival of Jewish art and culture. The diverse programme of culture, music and literature features the four basic weights of Mitja Miklavčič’s FF Tisa Sans for headlines through to body copy across the site as well as festival collateral.
Designed and curated by Ryan and Tina Essmaker of Designing Monsters, The Great Discontent is a journal of interviews focusing on creativity, risk and what connects people as artists. A simple, clean, responsive and impeccably editorially considered site, the choice to use Erik Spiekermann, Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby’s FF Meta Serif as body is a great complement to “The Great Discontent”.permalink
Type is typically one-color. Of course, after it’s set, a user can manipulate letters with a texture or a gradient; but out of the box, a font is usually capable of a single color. This is where layer fonts change the game. With glyphs that are designed to be overlaid on top of each other, layer fonts make it easy to apply multiple colors and other effects without extra steps or leaving the comfort of your typesetting or layout app.
Multi-layered type is not a new concept. “Chromatic” wood fonts for printing large headlines in two or more colors were common way back in the mid-1800s. Polychromatic type continued to be readily available in the photocompositing era when graphic designers sent their text to specialized typesetters to do the precision work required to line up the layers. When digital type took over, there was a noticeable lull in layered type. There were few chromatic fonts available, and making them work was now the complicated and tedious task of the designer who was suddenly given the additional role of typesetter.
But now, thanks to new typefaces (and rediscovering some old ones), better software, and time-saving tricks made possible by OpenType, chromatic type is back! Just a casual glance at graphic design blogs or Pinterest boards is enough to see that layer fonts are in fashion again.
There are plenty of interesting and useful multi-layer typefaces in the FontFont library — it may surprise you to learn we have more than 50 families with layering capabilities (even some Free FontFonts like FF Pullman and FF Koko) — but they are often overlooked because online samplers are optimized for standard, single-layer type. So let’s take a closer, multicolor look at a few and see what they can do.
What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Make things pretty.
The most obvious use of type layers is to add decorative elements in multiple hues. A variety of FontFonts take advantage of layers to enhance their display qualities, from playful to grungy. Here are a few:
What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Add depth and dimension.
One of the more powerful benefits of layers is transforming type from an element that simply sits on a surface to one that has a three-dimensional shape of its own. A single layer font with built-in shadows or faceting can only go so far in simulating depth. With a layer FontFont like FF Primary you can use color to give each surface an appropriate shade, making the type pop off the page or recede into stone. Over at the FontShop blog, David Sudweeks wrote a good tutorial on using FF Primary (and most other layer fonts).
What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
FF Kipp, inspired by a worn set of wood type, is one of the most popular typefaces with a rough, weathered contour. Still, users often overlook its layer variations which can make it an even more convincing emulation of imperfectly printed or painted letters. The extra fonts in the set offer a variety of degradation when overlaid over the base fonts. These extras can also be colored slightly different than the bottom layer resulting in an uneven, painterly effect.
What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Give text meaning.
Layers aren’t only useful for visual appeal. Among the many smart tricks in FF Mister K are scribble, strikeout, and underline features that can enhance the meaning of text all while staying true to the informal handwritten aesthetic of the typeface. The OpenType-powered annotations are easy to apply, work with words of various lengths, and of course offer the ability to easily adjust coloring. Read more about how to use FF Mister K’s special effects in this info guide.
What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
One of the graphic designer’s often encountered but seldom discussed challenges is overlaying readable type on a photograph or video. This is particularly tricky when the background has varying values of light and dark. Common hacks include drop shadows and strips of color, but it’s often more engaging when the element backing the type is in harmony with the typeface. This is where FF Jigger shines. Because there are separate fonts for front and back, each can be colored independently. And because it’s type, changes to content or color are easy to make.
What Can Layer FontFonts Do?
Maps, infographics, UI design, and wayfinding systems ask a lot of iconography. To get the work done efficiently, icons must be easy to apply, easy to edit, and easy to change. That’s why working with symbol fonts makes so much sense. FF Netto Icons and FF Dingbats 2.0 offer frames and backgrounds to enable icon customization. Because these icon and border elements are separate characters they can each be colored separately. In FF Netto, key in the desired frame, apply its color, then key in an icon to align it perfectly inside the frame. FF Dingbats 2.0 uses an OpenType-powered layering feature to allow coloring of multiple elements in each pictogram without switching fonts (see above). Read more about this and the packages other features at the official FF Dingbats 2.0 site.
Using Layer FontFonts on the Web
You don’t need to limit your layer typography to print and images. Our friends at Typekit have written a simple CSS tutorial on using layer fonts in web design. For his article, Tim Brown demonstrates a chromatic typeface revived from the wood type era, but the technique will work with Web FontFonts like FF Prater Block, FF Advert Rough and parts of FF ThreeSix too.permalink
We are very happy to announce that we will be sponsoring TypeTalks 3. The date is set for 6-7 September 2013 with the symposium stage heading back to its hometown, Brno.
The two-day symposium will be preceded by a three-day information design workshop led by Finnish designer Jasso Lamberg, as well as an evening of ‘extrashort’ type presentations aka TypeShorts™. Speakers for this year include Erik van Blokland, Laura Meseguer and Radoslav Večerka.
TypeTalks was created as a collaborative activity, designed to raise awareness and draw attention to the importance and power of typeface design and typography amongst graphic design professionals and students. Three years on, it is now more than a conference just for typographers and type fanatics. TypeTalks aims to bring together creatives from across the entire design spectrum including graphic and web design, historians and even programmers.
Normal bird registration is open until August 9, but places are limited so book now!permalink