Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brought to you by the letter...

Today's letter is brought to you by the letter: A.
Drescher Grotesk BT, lowercase A, light.

I'm using Drescher Grotesk BT as my personal branding typeface. And when looking through a bunch of type families, the little, lowercase 'a' was one of the letters in Drescher Grotesk BT that really stood out to me. I liked that it didn't have a head (the line that sometimes appears over a lowercase 'a'), I thought that made it feel a little more modern. I was worried that the bowl was overly large, like the quite distinct lowercase 'a' of Futura. I can see Futura's 'a' coming from a mile away. But really, when put into context, Drescher Grotesk's 'a' is appropriately rounded. It wasn't until I blew it up to 350pt for this post that I saw it wasn't perfectly rounded at all!

In fact, this 'a' looks quite like a closed off Omega symbol. Where the bowl meets the stem is quite angular and feels very Russian constructionist. I really enjoy this because it feels as though Drescher Grotesk's lowercase 'a' is both the beginning and the end.

Courtesy of identifont.com, wikipedia.com

Design Foundry: VEB Typoart (original), Bitstream (digital)
Designer: Arno Drescher, Nicolai Gogoli
Date: 1930, 1999-2001
Classification: Geometric Sans-Serif

Nicolai Gogoli revived Drescher's popular typeface Super Grotesk (?) in 1999 (?) as Drescher's Grotesk and received the Kurt Christians Award. (I can find no information about this KC Award online, other than that Gogoli won it in 1999. Anyone ever heard of it / know what it is?) Drescher Grotesk has seven weights (but no italics) including a small size with wider kerning/leading. It also has the right angle brackets that aren't square brackets: [ ] (and they're still different from these smaller <> angle brackets.)

Drescher's original typeface, Super Grotesk (?) had immense popularity in East Germany (where it was designed) as a replacement for Futura. (No wonder the big bowled 'a's are so similar!). My history is rough at best (please feel free to set me straight): VEB Typoart was the only type foundry in East Germany (under Soviet control). It was state-owned and opened in 1948 in Dresden, three years after the controversial Dresden bombings by the U.S and England. Typoart's mission was "to create typefaces for Eastern Germany and other Eastern Bloc countries. It was frequently ordered to plagiarize Western typefaces that Zentrag could not afford to license."


Sam Ricks said...

Hi Heather,

Beautiful typeface. I actually hadn't ever heard of it, but I want to check it out now.

As for your history...there was no division between East and West Germany until after WWII. The Soviets didn't take charge until they reached Berlin in 1945.

h. van de mark said...

thank you for the history check. i tried looking it up on wikipedia, but there was such a vast amount of content that i found myself getting caught up in something else, that everything just got jumbled in my head.