Wednesday, August 11, 2010

8Faces Issue 1 Review

I had the luck to purchase a print copy of the new, limited-edition, typography magazine, 8Faces, before it sold out. And I can't tell you how ecstatic I am that I did. After pouring over it for the past 48 hours, I have a few things to say.

First, I think I'm so in love with it, because I received it literally a day after I sketched out the ideas/concepts for my first (three!) typefaces. I was playing around with custom lettering for some thank you cards, and the next thing I know I was swarmed with ideas and sketching letter forms left and right and technical notes as fast I could. So, to receive a typography magazine the next day added much fuel to the fire.

Some really cool things in 8Faces, Issue 1:

- Interview with Jessica Hische who's Daily Drop Caps and hand lettering-style are going to be subject of my Inspiration #2.

- It's incredibly well-written. John Boardly of ilovetypography, wrote a short article "Type Matters," and he compares the invisible technical details of a typeface that go undistinguished by readers to the way a seasoned chef adds salt to a dish to enhance the flavors but without the diner tasting the salt.

- I love that the interviewees had different opinions on the future of web typefaces and how they should be distributed/owned. Many of them had their hands in different projects such as TypeKit, FontShop, League of Moveable Type, etc. It's very unbias journalism that expresses both sides of an issue without taking a side. And everyone was very respect to each other. Ah, civil debate, how I've missed you!

- My favorite quote comes from Ian Coyle's interview. He says, "When a client comes to a designer - to any creative - it's not just the output; it's about the person: the way they think and the way they approach the work. ...And that only comes from thinking." He nailed it perfectly. When I read that, I thought back to myself about all those times when people said I think too much (as a bad thing) and relished that I have this ability.

- Lastly, they also interviewed Brian Willen and Nolen Strals, who to my amazement are here in Baltimore! They teach at MICA and wrote Lettering & Type (which I am familiar with.) So this was exciting, and a happy surprise/nod to the design community of Baltimore. Yea yea.

Essentially, 8Faces interviews 8 different typographers or design-extraordinaires and ultimately, asks them, "If you could you just 8 typefaces for the rest of your life, which would you choose?" I absolutely loved reading this spread after each interview, to see what typefaces overlapped and more interesting what the departures were. The departures were usually ones that achieved a personable sentiment between the designer and the typeface. It definitely opened up my eyes to some typefaces that I had overlooked. Georgia got brought up a lot as the go to web-safe font. I'm not sure how I feel about that!

8Faces, issue #1 is still available for PDF download if you're interested. I have to say I wouldn't want to read this in any other way than in print. Sometimes, when I'm at the airport or Barnes & Noble, I think to myself, I want to support the print industry, I love print, I'll buy some cool design magazines. And so often I am disappointed at the selection! But 8Faces is awesome because it's informative, well-designed and not-pretentious. I particularly like that's it's not pretentious. And there are extra goodies in it besides the 8 interviews, like a featured art piece, a chance to win something, etc etc. I strongly urge all of you - if you have even a slight interest in typography - to get your hands on Issue 2.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter...

Brought to you by the Letter: B
Old Standard TT, Regular, uppercase B

Of all the Google Font Directory typefaces, Lobster has got to be the most wide
ly used so far online. Or maybe it's just so distinct that I notice it more often than say Old Standard TT. Lobster, by Pablo Impallari, is a really fun decorative script font. Something about it feels like summertime. The details - the loops and thick curves, the way the letters run together as there's something a little urgent and exciting. It all feels very vintage to me, maybe the 70s? I want to see the words Psyche! and Chill and Get Down written in Lobster in shades of burnt orange and mustard yellow with thick white strokes. And then it sort of hit me, Lobster reminds me of the typeface for the logo of those colorful Spanish lollipops, Chupa Chups. I can see some resemblance in style:

Extra awesome about the Chupa Chups logo: it was done by Salvador Dali in 1969. Thank you Wikipedia.

But on to the Lobster, regular uppercase B. I started doing some digging and Lobster is not only a very
pretty font, but a very well-made font. I say this because a lot of care was taken into creating alternate versions of the letters (79 ligatures so far) that help finesse the font's handwritten feel. For example, notice the details of the B above: The stem and the curves connect in only one place, both bowls are open. However, notice the differences among the B ligatures below (These are displayed in Photoshop if you want to see it for yourself). The black type shows Contextual Alternates, the red type shows Standard Ligatures, and the blue shows Stylistic Alternates. Notice on the blue type how the bottom bowl connects to the stem. (More changes occur with the other letters, but I want to stay focused on the B.) This attention to detail is what makes Lobster stand out as a well-designed typeface, and it makes sense why everyone is jumping at the chance to use it.Courtesy of Google Font Directory,

Design Foundry: Impallari
Designer: Pablo Impallari
Date: 2010
Classification: Decorative - script

You can find a lengthy and interesting description about Lobster from the creator himself here. An excerpt explaining what I mentioned above about the ligatures more in depth:

"A common problem that affect most script fonts, is that each letter must be draw in a way that connect with the next and previous letters. And that's quite difficult.

By having 26 lowercase character, that gives you more than 600 possible combinations for each letter (and arround 15600 for the whole alphabet). It's next to impossible to make it always connect seamesly whitout compromising the shape that each letter was originally intended to be.

That's why trying to make script fonts works it's like magic."

Impallari also released the typeface at Typophile, and it's interesting watching it develop in this forum here. The one thing I've gathered from the writing about Lobster, is that it is very much a collaborative effort. Although Impallari may have been the only one touching the letters, commentators and typography gurus had a lot of influence on the final design.