My research for this assignment took two main forms – the first was to research type foundries on the internet and the second was to gain a better understanding of the process of designing a font.
A Type Foundry is a company that designs and/or distributes typefaces. Historically, type foundries manufactured and sold metal and wooden typefaces and matrices for printing presses.
Michele M. F. [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
In recent years digital type foundries have emerged to accumulate and distribute typefaces, typically digitised, which have been created by type designers.
Monotype Imaging is a type foundry that has stood the test of time and has evolved from its days of origin in the late 1890’s punching out metal types mechanically to leading the digital global market today. Some of the companies most famous and popular typefaces include ‘Gill Sans’, ‘Times New Roman’ and ‘Goudy Old Style’.
The following article by Anna Chayasatit entitled ’15 Type Foundries You Should All Know About’ offers a useful insight into some of the more modern and emerging type foundries.
Three of particular interest that I took some time to explore were:
A2-Type: This foundry was established in 2009 and carries a diverse selection of typefaces for print and screen. They are a London based company that aims to supply high quality fonts with contemporary proportions. www.a2-type.co.uk
P22: This type foundry is comprised mainly of four distinct collections of typefaces each with a distinct typographical focus. They offer custom font designing alongside creating computer typefaces inspired by Art and History. http://www.p22.com
Fontsmith: Another London based foundry which focusses on designing fonts for business customers and developing font solutions for well-known brands. They also hold a large collection of fonts available for purchase. http://www.fontsmith.com
While I was perusing their website I found this blog article by Phil Garnham which really helped to reinforce my understanding of typographical anatomy.
Designing a Font
The internet is a great source of information for how to go about designing a typeface and there is a plethora of articles and videos which give tips for each stage of the development process. It would appear that most designers start the process with the traditional pen and ink on paper, creating a visual prototype and exploring ideas about basic form through sketches.
Sometimes this sketching process is now carried out digitally with a tablet. Designers will often focus on developing specific characters such as the capital ‘H’ and ‘O’ and lowercase ’n’, ‘o’, ‘d’ and ‘p’ as these letters can help to define the proportions of the font and set standards for round and straight parts of the typeface and the length of the ascenders/desenders. Once the basic prototype and design is established the sketches are scanned in or transferred to a digital software programme such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, Glyphs App or Fontlab for further development.
These two articles by Miriam Harris and Jamie Clarke were incredibly helpful for detailing and explaining the process and explore different techniques for turning a conceptual design into a standardised and well considered typeface.
I also found Mark Simonson’s website very interesting. Mark is an American independent font designer who is most popularly known for his font ‘Proxima Nova’ a geometric-grotesque sans serif typeface. His lettering style is often inspired by historic design periods such as the Art Deco era. On his website he details the evolutionary process by which he designed his typeface ‘Coquette’.