Inkwell, a family of hand-drawn yet formal typefaces

Type designer Jonathan Hoefler's latest work, Inkwell, is a family of cute, hand-drawn imitations of distinctive type families of past and present. He fears that it will be compared to Comic Sans, popular with the people but reviled by the pros.

“Comic Sans is shooting for ‘informal’ but hits ‘amateurish,'” Hoefler says. “I wanted Inkwell to be informal, but proficient.” Indeed, Inkwell’s “tiny universe of fonts” contains both serif and sans versions, plus four decorative fonts including a cursive-like script, a blueprint-inspired all-caps set, even a blackletter. (“Think less ‘death announcement,’ more ‘country club invitation.'” Hoefler says.)

Inkwell's a lovely antidote to Comic Sans, but the fact you can pay $400 for it and yet find these anxieties and ironies in every line says something about the beast's power.

Sometimes I look at the dawn and I think Comic Sans may be the greatest typeface of all time. If there were another bloodsoaked civil war in this country, leaving it and half the world past it a wasteland scoured of life and beset by a heavensent grief and heartache that makes us pine for death even as we understand finally that the wrath of God lies sleeping, the armistice will be printed in Times New Roman and the new constitution in Comic Sans. Read the rest

Preventing typography disasters, from the Oscars to prescription bottles

This Vox video illustrates the fact that type design was the true culprit in last month's Oscars cockup, and how easy it would have been to prevent. But backslapping award shows are only the beginning of bad design when it comes to type.

The 2017 Oscars ended with a pretty shocking mix-up. Announcer Warren Beatty incorrectly named La La Land as the Best Picture winner, and the mistake wasn't revealed until crew members had already started giving their acceptance speeches. A lot of things went wrong for the snafu to happen the way it did. But what if typography was one of them? A better announcement card design could have made for a very different Academy Awards show — not to mention a much less embarrassing Miss Universe show for Steve Harvey back in 2015. But the implications of bad typography don't end there: poorly designed ballots in the 2000 presidential election arguably could have swayed the outcome, and illegible type on medicine bottles could be causing nearly 500,000 cases of drug misuse per year in the U.S.

The way pill bottles are turned into incomprehensible ads for the pharmacy--and how graphic designer Deborah Adler proposes to fix it--is intriguing, not least because there are always a lot of unseen pressures and constraints that design is bound by. Nothing will ever be done to fix it: informational text gets perverted by conceit, branding, regulation and corporate bikeshedding until it is worse than useless for any purpose.

Except one, perhaps! I'm especially fond of how manuals for electrical appliances are mostly regulatory safety warnings that succeed both in limiting liability and making the device less safe, because they are so forbidding and badly written no human will ever comprehend them. Read the rest

Futuracha, a beautiful, ornamental typeface that magically adjusts as you type

Futuracha is a successfully crowdfunded typeface that makes use of Open Type's wizardry to switch its ligatures as you type, producing beautiful effects -- before the crowdfunding campaign, Futuracha users had to hand-set those ligatures, but now it's just type and go. $50 for a commercial license, $15 for a personal license. Ships in May. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Terrific history of Benguiat, the 'Stranger Things' font

Typeroom looks back at ITC Benguiat, the font that so embodied its time that it's now canonical for late 1970s to early 1980s. Turns out its designer and namesake Ed Benguiat was motivated by a potential big payoff:

Inspired by Times New Roman and Bodoni, “he wanted to create a design that was pretty and readable in order to garner as much commission and licensing fees as possible. Back then, it was much harder to access different fonts so there was a larger incentive to have a typeface take off”.

How Ed Benguiat’s vintage font became the most hyped of the year (h/t Calpernia Addams) Read the rest

The creator of Papyrus, the world's second-most reviled font, was paid only $2,500 in today's money

John Brownlee interviews Chris Costello, the type designer behind Papyrus, described as "that font comedians move onto when their Comic Sans jokebook gets a little dog-eared."

"There have definitely been days I wish I never sold the rights," he laughs, acknowledging the font definitely has its share of critics. He says he never dreamed Papyrus would end up installed on over a billion computers around the world. If he did, he probably would have asked for more than the equivalent of $2,500 today for it.
Read the rest

Design your own font easily with Metaflop and Metafont

Metafont makes it easy to create your own typeface: all you have to do is move sliders that alter the geometry until you've got the results you want. Then click "download," and you have your font!

metaflop is an easy to use web application for modulating your own fonts. metaflop uses metafont, which allows you to easily customize a font within the given parameters and generate a large range of font families with very little effort.

With the modulator it is possible to use metafont without dealing with the programming language and coding by yourself, but simply by changing sliders or numeric values of the font parameter set. this enables you to focus on the visual output – adjusting the parameters of the typeface to your own taste. all the repetitive tasks are automated in the background.

The unique results can be downloaded as a webfontpackage for embedding on your homepage or an opentype postscript font (.otf) which can be used on any system in any application supporting otf. Various metafonts can be chosen from our type library. they all come along with a small showcase and a preset of type derivations.

Metaflop is open source – you can find us on github, both for the source code of theplatform and for all the fonts.

Read the rest

New emoji for Unicode 8, including "TACO"

The Unicode Consortium is finalizing its plans for version 8, and 37 new emoji are among the candidates for the final release, including "ZIPPER-MOUTH FACE," "MONEY-MOUTH FACE," "SIGN OF THE HORNS" and "TACO". Read the rest

Secret history of the poop emoji

The 2007 project to bring emoji to Android -- and thence to the Web -- involved an epic battle over the inclusion of the much-loved "pile of poop" emoji, whose significance to the Japanese market was poorly understood by various reactionary elements at Google. Read the rest

A handwriting font for doctors

Link to larger size. Created by Orion Champadiyil (web, Twitter).

(via Steve Silberman) Read the rest