The National Park Typeface

From nationalparktypeface.com

From the website:

I saw those familiar words. Set “National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior” — style. I wondered if it actually was a typeface or “font” that anyone could download and use? Do park rangers have this as a typeface on their computers to set in their word docs, pdfs and power point slides?

I had a sketchbook with me and took some rubbings of the letterforms and asked my friend Miles Barger, the Visual Information Specialist for Rocky, if he had the typeface. He asked the sign shop. No one has it? Turns out it isn’t a typeface at all but a system of paths, points and curves that a router follows.

The router’s “bit” follows the path 
and gives the letters its stroke 
weight or thickness only when engraving a sign. 

It doesn’t really exist as a typeface unless a sign is made.

So my design colleague, Andrea Herstowski, students Chloe Hubler and Jenny O’Grady, NPS Ranger Miles Barger and myself decided to make this router typeface a thing. 

Our National Parks belong to the people, so this typeface should too.

It’s kind of mind-blowing that the National Park service doesn’t have it’s own typeface. I love that most of these parks probably made their signage on-site with whatever tools they have on hand. Which, is probably, a drill press table.

Which, when you think about it, is a gift. A gift of accidental identity. An identity sculpted by cutting costs, and working around year-over-year budget cuts. Anything requiring a tool more complex than a drill press to make an inscription in wood is unthinkable, but remarkably stable and easy to do as-is without fancy adjustments or jigs.

Jeremy Shellhorn, the lead of this project, runs the Designing Outside Studio whose mission is help design students “think and make more creatively”:

Our studio loves to be outdoors, out of the classroom and into natural places that challenge us to design, think and make in new ways. We realize the design process is a powerful tool for making things better, visualizing what if, and creating change.

As our parks and public spaces face threats to their existence and challenges in broadening public support and connecting visitors to memorable and meaningful learning & recreational experiences; we as a studio (students and faculty) look to find ways in which to collaborate with organizations, parks, rangers and fellow outdoors-folk to find ways to connect people with the natural world. 

Incredible. I love it. We need more of this kind of thinking and teaching. Learn more about the Designing Outside Studio here. Want the typeface? head to the homepage here, or visit designermill.com.

Prospectus, from The Lost Type Co-op

From Lost Type Co-op:

pro·spec·tus: noun

  1. A document that advertises a product, service, venture, institution, or event for the purpose of attracting potential clients, investors, participants, etc.
  2. A new and bold contemporary serif typeface, with optical sizes, designed by Dave Bailey, exclusively from The Lost Type Co‑op.

A lovely, light-hearted typeface. Full of spirit and originality. Glistening with nostalgia, but full of energy. Lost Type Co-op describes it as:

A recognizably crisp, bold, and contemporary choice for all of your editorial, fashionable, intellectual, and satirical typesetting needs. Designed by Dave Bailey, and available now, only from The Lost Type Co‑op.

So much fun. Get it here, pay what you want for personal use.

Farewell – ETAOIN SHRDLU

The entire process of breaking a story and getting it to print is just bonkers. It’s hard to fathom making such deadlines today, let alone 40 years ago.

Over the July 4th weekend of 1978, the New York Times switched from a Linotype typesetting process to phototypesetting (or cold-typesetting). Filmmakers Carl Schlesinger and David Loeb Weiss were there to document the end of an era for the historic paper. Amidst a still-looming print deadline, and rigid schedule to switch to an entirely modern process the next day — the entire process feels like total anarchy. With minutes to spare, they make the deadline.

As for the mystical etaoin shrdlu, it’s a non-sensical phrase generated by the typesetter, running their fingers vertically along the Lintotype keys. It was used as a signal to editors that a known mistake was made by the operator. Because operations had to move quickly, it was common to see etaoin shrdlu make it into products such as this one from a 1903 edition of The New York Times.

From the film’s description:

A film created by Carl Schlesinger and David Loeb Weiss documenting the last day of hot metal typesetting at The New York Times. This film shows the entire newspaper production process from hot-metal typesetting to creating stereo moulds to high-speed press operation. At the end of the film, the new typesetting and photographic production process is shown in contrast to the old ways.

There are interviews with workers at NYT that are for and against the new technology. In fact, one typesetter is retiring on this final day as he does not want to learn the new process and technology.

This is the first time the film has ever been available in HD from the original 16mm master film.

See more printing, journalism, and typographic-related films at: printingfilms.com

I have so much respect for these hot metal typesetters, editors, and journalists. This was a tough-as-nails job. They crafted an entire process around the machine’s unforgiving mechanical problems to ensure a daily paper was possible.

It’s really something to behold. The Linotype was a marvelous (and very dangerous machine) feat of mechanical engineering but by the late 1970’s it was time to say goodbye as the digital age was upon us. We’ve come a long way.

Further Reading

Lubalin 100

Lubalin 100 is maintained by the Herb Lubalin Study Center to celebrate Lubalin’s centenary, directed by Annabel Brandon (@_annabelbrandon).

Herb Lubablin would have turned 100 on March 17th, 2018.

A storied designer, artist, typographer and apparently — party-goer. Lubalin is probably most well-known for producing the ubiquitous geometric font: Avant Garde.

The one, the only.

For me, Patagonia, VHS tapes and disco come to mind initially, but his type work is no doubt most prolific in the music industry. While, Lubalin’s contribution is not limited only to typography, his design studio produced some breathtaking work. Lubalin definitely defined an era.

Mad respect. What a collection of work. I just love that World Trade Center logo. The play between positive and negative space drive me nuts.

I particularly enjoyed this quirk about Lubalin’s studio:

There was only one Herb Lubalin. His studio, however, had many names.

The name, and associated logo, of the agency which Herb Lubalin founded upon leaving Sudler & Hennessey, underwent several iterations. Although first named Herb Lubalin, Inc in 1964, the name was changed a number of times to reflect the various partnerships, and each repetition required a new logo.

Many names indeed, in fact there were 8 different studio iterations.

  • 1955–1964, Sudler, Hennessey & Lubalin
  • 1964–1967, Herb Lubalin, Inc.
  • 1967–1975, Lubalin, Smith, Carnase, Inc.
  • 1969–1971, Lubalin, Burns & Co, Inc.
  • 1975–1978, Lubalin, Smith, Carnase & Peckolick
  • 1978–1980, Herb Lubalin Associates, Inc.
  • 1980–1981, Lubalin, Peckolick Associates, Inc.
  • 1970s, Lubalin & Co

It should be noted that The Study Center (short for The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography) has an extensive archive of Lubalin’s. The Lubalin Center is free and open to the public by appointment. Located at The Cooper Union, it’s a must-visit if you ever find yourself in NYC.

Further Reading

Noe Display

An unapologetically expressive display from Schick Toikka, a Berlin/Helsinki type foundry.

A while back, Trent Walton tweeted a couple of fonts in his shopping list:

Those numerals though! 🤤 

Noe Display is a pretty downright sexy. I enjoy display fonts, they tend to be on the more expressive side. Great for headlines, labels or unique packaged goods. A good display face can do a lot of heavy lifting in communication design.

I took a peak at the specimen website from Schick Toikka, an independent type foundry run by a two-person team in Berlin and Helsinki. You can read more about them here. But here's a sampling from the specimen:

Noe Display Regular Italic
Noe Display Black Italic
Noe Display Medium Italic
Noe Display Medium

A note from the foundry about the origin of Noe Display:

Classic formal attributes of serif display type in the ‘rational’ mode include: a strong contrast between thicks and thins, fine details, elegant curves, and a vertical stress axis. This tradition goes back several generations to the showiest variants of Transitionals and Didones. Noe Display adopts these characteristics, along with features that reflect modern fashions of the mid-20th-century, such as a large lowercase and compact spacing. Beyond that genre-mixing combination, what makes this particular display face unique is the audacious way its strokes end. Large, wedge-shaped serifs come to a sharp point. Arches are capped with prominent triangular beaks. These features add a certain fierceness to the usual elegance of the genre, without detracting from its poise and finesse. It is a seamless dialog between slow, round curves and brisk, spiky terminals. The italic is especially fluid, with a blatantly cursive construction and long, tapering entry and exit strokes. Noe Display’s four weights have a nearly constant hairline weight, increasing the overall contrast as the stems thicken from Regular to Black, offering several degrees of drama and impact. This is distinguished display type with sparkle and bite.

What a lovely and whimsical summary from the designers. The atoms that make-up this type seem to have a complicated lineage, which is probably why this is such a fun display. The fluidity, heights and geometric appendages definitely adds "sparkle and bite." There's a certain salaciousness with the Black Italic, where the Regular Italic is refined and vogue.

Noe definitely has a bit more spunk than the last font I wrote about.

GT Super

A rad typeface, inspired by the 70’s and 80’s pastiche.

My girlfriend and long-time Stephen King superfan is a collector of vintage horror novels and memorabilia. My favorite past-time while she's rummaging through used bookstores is spotting all the old typography and the incestuous pastiche these book designers employed.

I think this kind of stuff is great.

This stuff is truly iconic — pick up any horror novel from that time, and you're likely to see what I mean.

Well, the Grilli Type Foundry is a fan too. Loads of ad men, book designers, newspaper editors and product designers typeset many a word in this in the 70's, 80's (and beyond). GT Super, was born out of admiration for Trooper Roman, Perpetua, and Times Modern:

We later found out that the typeface used in this advertisement, shown above, was some version of Perpetua Super — which lead us to GT Super’s name. The 1960s & 70s saw many such titling serifs created for the then-new phototype technology, and oftentimes quite different designs were marketed under the same name. Some of our favorite typefaces of that time are all the different versions of PerpetuaTrooper Roman, and Times Modern.

From the Gt Super specimen website
Ibid.
Ibid.

As alluring as the expressiveness of these high-contrast, titling serif typefaces is — these very qualities limit their utility for text usage. Additionally, most typefaces of the genre were designed in only a single weight. Our goal with GT Super was to expand on the unique traits of those designs while building a consistent typographic system. The Display styles, with their fine details, work best when used large, while the Text styles focus on body copy performance.

GT Super includes a text family and a display family, so it's use is pretty versatile. Between the alternates for descender characters and troublesome characters — this is a beautiful serif to play with.

GT Super Text
GT Super Display

I love the alternate descenders. The g's look like they're drawn straight from a quill nib. Very lovely. I prefer the italics in the display family over the text, but overall I think they're really neat.

From Grilli Type

Further Reading:

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