A while back, my friend Rich Vreeland, AKA Disasterpeace, made a Flash game called January where you catch snowflakes on your tongue and each plays a soft, pining note. Rich has been busy lately making music for other video games, but he just pushed out a big update to January. The new version trims down on the storyline in favor of a more capable music generator. It has auto-pilot functionality, a selection of keys to choose from, a pentatonic mode, and the ability to save your generated compositions as MIDI files.
Dan Sayers ("I am not a type designer") decided to explore "generative" type-design by seeing what happened when he "averaged out" a large number of fonts. Once he got his teeth into the problem, he realized that "averaging out" is a complicated idea when it comes to shapes, and came up with a pretty elegant way of handling the problem, which, in turn, yielded a rather lovely face: Avería, "the average font."
Avería – The Average Font (via Waxy)
Then it occurred to me: since my aim was to average a large number of fonts, perhaps it would be best to use a very simple process, and hope the results averaged out well over a large number of fonts. So, how about splitting each letter perimeter into lots of (say, 500) equally-spaced points, and just average between the corresponding positions of each, on each letter? It would be necessary to match up the points so they were about the same location in each letter, and then the process would be fairly simple
Having found a simple process to use, I was ready to start. And after about a month of part-time slaving away (sheer fun! Better than any computer game) – in the process of which I learned lots about bezier curves and font metrics – I had a result. I call it Avería – which is a Spanish word related to the root of the word ‘average’. It actually means mechanical breakdown or damage. This seemed curiously fitting, and I was assured by a Spanish friend-of-a-friend that “Avería is an incredibly beautiful word regardless of its meaning”. So that's nice.