What are peoples opinions on jonathan hoefler fonts

anonymous's picture

what are peoples opinions on jonathan hoefler fonts

kentlew's picture

Okay, thanks for the clarification. Old maps, eh? I confess that at first I thought it was just off-the-shelf Walbaum Italic -- Monotype, not Berthold.

Wait a minute . . . You know what?: When the redesign first came out (ca. Oct 02), when they introduced the Archer, MSL was using off-the-shelf Walbaum Italic. Along with a display italic that is similar in flavor -- presumably Surveyor (see Oct 02, pg. 243, for example).

Now -- Sept 03 (my mother-in-law hasn't handed down the Oct issue yet) -- I see that they're using some of what I presume is Surveyor roman (pp. 156-163, for example).

But they're also still using off-the-shelf Walbaum. See the article starting on p. 106, for instance. And what is that sans? That's not Benton Gothic. Looks like Tobias's digitization of S.H. de Roos's Nobel for Font Bureau. Hmmm.

I'm not aware of the Gotham/Lever House connection, but maybe you're right. I see now, however, that the HTF catalog credits the whole Gotham family (not just the Condensed) to a GQ commission.

-- K.

gerald_giampa's picture

John & Hrant

"Capitalism and culture are mostly opposite."

I have been thinking about this. Hrant might have a point. They certainly are different pursuits?

I would hate to ruin my well earned reputation of disagreeing with Hrant. But you know, it hurts me to say this. Hrant may have a point!

dana's picture

The innovative artist who advances culture may not directly pursue a capitalistic
objective, but many great artists have been or are the benefactors of a capitalist patron.
Doesn't the support given by a patron allow the artist to be innovative and progressive?

hrant's picture

There is no pure Art. But the less materialism is involved, the higher Art is.

The benefits of patronage are illusional. In reality, the other edge of the sword will get you in the end.


John Hudson's picture

There is no pure Art. But the less materialism is involved, the higher Art is.

Does that mean that 'conceptual art' is higher than painting and sculpture? :-)

It is worth noting that artists also benefited from patronage in pre-capitalist society and in communist society. All this really tells us is that artists need to eat, and that people who value art find ways to pay for it.

gerald_giampa's picture

Still the objectives are entirely different. The objectives define the difference.

We should not confuse capitalism with consumerism. Capitalists are not required to be merchants. Or for that matter, benefactors.

But capitalist often like groovy things. Otherwise what would be the point to an abundance of wealth?

Those with bad taste often hire an art investment dealer.

Also as we know many artist were not, and still, often are not expected to actually eat. Artists are supposed to live in garrets and eat pigeons. In fact nothing make a art consumer happier is to have the artist that he or she collected to "pass away". Healthy artist are considered a long term investment.

You just know how popular that is these days.

In any event, capitalism is the pursuit of profit.

Culture is not.

William Berkson's picture

Somerset Maughm said that those who complain about the crassness of the market place are just second rate. If you are first rate, he said - much more eloquently than I am doing here - you will figure out a way to realize your artistic vision in a way that reaches the public.

This is an over-generalization in the opposite direction, in my view. But it does I think rightly raise a warning flag about those who are always decrying the low taste of the public.

dana's picture

" The benefits of patronage are illusional. "

My clients ask me to make something for them. When the thing is completed, they pay me for my efforts. I use the payment for things like rent, and food and art supplies.

This "illusion" appears to be quite realistic... I hope I can be forgiven if I have mistaken it for fact.

hrant's picture

> those who are always decrying the low taste of the public.

When did I do that?
What I'm saying is that materialism is anticultural.

> they pay me for my efforts.

Which is why you're not really an Artist, but a Craftsman. Well, a craftsperson. :-)
This is not a criticism - the other way around would be - Art is selfish.


gerald_giampa's picture

I must agree, the market place is a busy place. Not always crass. Often, but not always. The marketplace has little to do with pursuits of capitalism. In fact, free markets hinder profits. Small business hinders profits. Have you ever heard of corporatism?

Communism dealt with markets. Under Communisms there were great arts. Under capitalism we have great arts.

Arts have markets. "Everyone has something to sell."

But not everyone has cultural pursuits.

Cultural pursuits are not the pursuits of capitalism.

Profit is.

Capitalist on the other hand are people. People do funny things with their money.

William Berkson's picture

> The marketplace has little to do with pursuits of capitalism.

You are not using the word 'capitalism' in the way the word normally is used. Here is a definition of capitalism from Meriam Webster's on-line dictionary:

"An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market"

The free market is part of the concept of modern capitalism. There is a struggle by large owners of capital to exercise monopolistic powers, which is restrained to a greater (eg. under Clinton) or lesser (eg. under Bush) degree.

A free market is largely due to vigorous government policy and enforcement of laws upholding contracts and supporting fair competition.

hrant's picture

> A free market is largely due to vigorous government policy and enforcement of laws

It certainly makes sense that a System's definitions are oxymoronic.


William Berkson's picture

>a System's definitions are oxymoronic.

No, this is not at all contradictory. Strong government is necessary to have a free market. Right and left wingers often misunderstand this, and in the poor nations it is generally and tragically not understood. (By the way Adam Smith understood it very well.)

The wonderful Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has recently explained how many Latin American and other poor countries have been held back by their governments being pre-capitalist, in not creating and enforcing the legal framework necessary for free markets to function.

On type design there are issues relevant to this subject, concerning property rights for typedesigns.

But I see that I am going off into political discussion, so I will stop posting on this.

hrant's picture

I was talking about the "free" in "free market" being not free at all,
but under the strict control of the system, a system which twists
terminology (like in "Defense Department") to fool more poeple more.
Just like the state which coined the term "freeway" has highways
which are the most restrictive in the nation.

> I will stop posting on this.



BTW, since Martha Stewart is in the news again, I wonder about something: has Hoefler been getting less commissions from them since the scandal?


William Berkson's picture

I have tried to think more about what it is that I don't warm to in Hoefler's designs, in answer to Tiffany's question. They are of course masterfully executed.

The thing I don't like about Victorian design, and that I sense, rightly or wrongly, in Hoefler's designs, is that ornament is somehow laid on, rather than organic.

For example, I don't like the very sharp but old style serifs on Hoefler Text and Requiem. These are something new, I think, but to me they don't work.

Knockout is I think by intention is more reminiscent of the Victorian predecessors than many modern sans grotesques. I don't know enough to tell you the difference, but whatever they are I don't like look. For example the wide 'a' with the small tail I don't like, and some of the way the thick-thin transitions are handled on the heavier weights.

Now it may be that my reaction is influenced by my age. My (late) grandparents grew up in the Victorian era, and to me Victorian design always looks fussy and stuffy.

I lived in London for five years, and saw plenty of genuine Victorian stuff, but still never warmed to it. I felt as one of my teachers back then said, that it was as if during the Georgian period the builders could do no wrong, and in the Victorian they could do no right.

Maybe those in a younger generation, like Hoefler are less prejudiced than I and can see the merits in the Victorian taste. But to me it almost always seems to have forced and laid-on ornament.

Just not to be misunderstood, I am not against ornament. In the art nouveau and art deco periods I think they did wonderful things with ornament--and before. Queen Victoria, I am not amused.

Elliot Reed's picture

Wow did this thread get derailed. I'm glad it's back on course.

I like Hoefler's work. He is very talented. I think he has some interesting ideas. But everyone has their own tastes. I do see what you mean by the kind of "fussiness," William.

Also what exactly does Josh Darden do for Hoefler? I looked him up on MyFonts but can anyone tell me more about him?

gerald_giampa's picture


CAPITAL GOODS: "goods used to produce other commodities rather than for sale to consumers."


gerald_giampa's picture


Certainly do not think I am calling you a redneck. I do believe we should defend what is dear to us. Nothing wrong with free markets as long as they are just that, free, and better yet, fair. Fair includes social responsibility. I would be most surprised if you did not agree with that.

My point was about Hrants remark. Which hurts me big time. But cough, cough . . . he is not always wrong.

Enough said on that matter.

"I have looked at Jonathan Hoefler fonts. I find them charming and refreshing."

Nick Shinn's picture

To put this in the perspective of personal choice, as well as socio-economic theory, Maxfield Parrish had this to say (probably not his actual words, as it comes from my memory of it being quoted by Maurice Sendak -- but you get the idea):

"I've been painting nymphs on rocks for 13 years. I could do it for another 13 years. The commercial market tempts one to repeat oneself."

gerald_giampa's picture


I don't know if that is a good example. Frankly painting nymphs on rocks for 26 years is one mighty attractive consideration. ". . . you get the idea):" (the smiley face goes here)

dberlow's picture

Man-o-man. You vonder vhy I'm qviet? This is so much better, or at least interesting in distant retrospective to find these little minefields of conversation. . .

hrant's picture

Hey, would you like to try on something from the new line?


dberlow's picture

In fact, I wonder if anyone will find this, way at the bottom of a 2 1/2 year old thread, but what the heck.

Jonathan didn't work for me directly, or in the same room for long stretches. He knew all about the history and styles before I found him and all I really showed him was how the spaces and spacing worked, what all the modern characters were used for, and how "the business worked." I gave him a few projects to do and he honed his skills on his own, and was soon as busy as I was. Tobias knew less about the history and styles but for him the spaces and spacing, and what all the characters were for, was natural and known, respectively. He was not interested in the business at all. And then, he absorbed the history rapidly under the influence of myself, but more from Black, Parker and Carter while my main task was to see that he had interesting projects along with the dozens he had in mind.

Whether or not you like their work, or you choose to tangent off into the relationship between commerce and art, it's an interesting duo. But what's clear to me, from reading this long dead thread, is that type design, in the case when the goal is a product, for either general or specific use, is not an art, and you need a patron, if not a client to get the best out of the best.

"I've been painting nymphs on rocks for 13 years. I could do it for another 13 years. The commercial market tempts one to repeat oneself."

But the Nymph might also have Something to do with it ... don't you think?/|\ ;)

hrant's picture

Great bits of "internal history" - thank you. And yeah, nymphs rule.

BTW, the Typophile "tracker"* lists threads by most-recent activity (and -if you're logged in- shows how many unread posts a thread has), which is the only way (now that email delivery is suspended) of staying on top of all the action. And since your Frankenstein-style electric jolt this thread has been towards the top of the list. But to find a dormant (never dead) thread like this [was], you'd have to throw something like "site:http://www.typophile.com berlow" at Google, and click on result #13 (at the moment). :-)

* http://typophile.com/tracker


anonymous's picture

Hoefler Type Foundry faces are AMAZING

Jared Benson's picture

Requiring registration is a far cry from censorship. I for one welcome participation in any form, whether someone cares to post under their real name or a pseudonym.

To get back to the original topic, I really appreciate fonts that come from The Hoefler Type Foundry. Now while some may consider my opinion biased due to the fact that I have worked with Jonathan for the last few years, I have genuinely found the HTF library incredibly useful for my needs as a graphic designer. The fonts range from classic text faces to contemporary display and are very well built and battle-tested at length before being released.

Now that Tobias Frere-Jones has joined Jonathan at HTF, I can think we can only expect great things to come.

Miss Tiffany's picture

The Hoefler typefaces are among the best licenses I've ever purchased.

I think the original question posted for this thread should have articulated as to why they are asking this question.

tamye's picture

The Hoefler/Frere-Jones combo is a knockout (pun intended). It's wonderful when these teams work out so well. And let's not forget one of HTF's secret weapons, Josh Darden. He's another (really) young squirt with amazing talent and technical gifts. The boy almost flunked his high school exams because he was busy making faces.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Anonymous, glad you've made it official, and welcome. We'll just be careful not to mistake you for A. Nonymous and Anon E. Mouse. =)

Miss Tiffany's picture

William. I don't think you are a troublemaker. But, I would like you to explain what it is you don't like about them. You say "something about the aesthetic", could you explain this further?

Miss Tiffany's picture

So there will be no "cozy fireplaces" in the future?

Stephen Coles's picture

From Kent Lew who is having posting issues on his console:

Hrant, AFAIK Hoefler never worked at The Font Bureau. He started under Roger Black before breaking out on his own to do type design full time.

Meredith, FB doesn't start with infants, but they do have a good track record with interns. Christian Schwartz did a stint with FB, I believe. There have been other names who got their start at FB, whom I can't recall off hand. Dyana Weissman is currently "apprenticing" there. Coincidentally (or maybe not) most of their interns get drafted out of RISD and Yale.

RE: Eidetic. The other day, my wife -- who generously tolerates my type obsessions -- mentioned that she was reading a book which, although she was very interested in the content, she found tiring to read and she thought it had something to do with the typeface (yes, she actually said that!). So naturally I had to take a look. It was set in Eidetic Neo.

-- K.

Joe Pemberton's picture


If by 'conservative,' Nick really means 'not trendy' then
Hrant's axiom should be 'Conservative organizations
oppose trendiness' and nothing more.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Town and Country is currently using HTF Requiem, but it was not created for them.

Martha Stewart Living (Omnipresent) Omnimedia has been soliciting HTF for a very long time. I'd wager that any font they use publicly (published) might just be from that humble foundry. Oh, and, The creative director, Gael Towey, is married to Stephen Doyle, of Doyle Partners which was formerly Drentell Doyle. Didn't their Spy magazine use Hoefler. Was it called Spy at that time?

Is it GQ or Esquire that uses Gotham now? Oh wait, whom isn't using Gotham. (I don't blame any of the magazines that are by the way.) This could be a game, a new thread, "Find HTF at your local Bookstore".


Joe Pemberton's picture

[ Moderator Hat: Let's reel this thread in and get back to Hoefler fonts. Pretty please. ]

hrant's picture

Why are you anonymous?


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