New project from a new member: Blackensans

roger_graves's picture


I’m a graphic design student at ECIAD in Vancouver spending a semester here at RISD in Providence, and one of my classes is a typeface design class. It’s taught by Cyrus Highsmith of Font Bureau.

I stumbled upon this forum and was impressed by the wealth of knowledge and number of people I recognized (Keith Tam teaches at my school, and I met J.F. Porchez. at last year’s ATypI in Vancouver). I figured this was the right place to ask for some advice!

My project and first typeface is a blend of sans-serif and blackletter. It’s been tough going so far, but the general idea is to reclaim and simplify blackletter in a way that doesn’t bring along negative connotations, and to add to the sans-serif some of the interesting features of blackletter type that add character and some might say legibility. To do this, I’ve been trying to both add blackletter features to sans-serif structures as well as to simplify and modernize the blackletter. At the moment, I’m somewhere in the muddy in-between…

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially in terms of general direction or good blackletter typefaces to analyze or base this on. So far, Gotenburg B Bold, Deutsch Gotische, and Werbdeutsch Heavy have all seemed promising.

I don't really want it to be a display type like Orbon, but my limited experience may require it to be so. ;)

Thanks very much for your time!

dan_reynolds's picture

Hi Roger, I hope that you like RISD :-)

I do not have any good suggestions of reduced blackletters that you should look at, but I'm sure that some of the other typophiles here can suggest a few.

What you could do is look at a lot of cuts of German Type from the 1930s

.00's picture

FWIW One of my early designs, ITC Orbon, was a stripping down of Blackletter into a san-serif form. I was watching a Blackletter calligraphy demonstration by Ward Dunham, and the idea for the design evolved from there.

hrant's picture

This is a very worthy project.

And I agree with Dan (although maybe more due to functional concerns than stylistic). Complexity is human and beautiful, and in this case it's what makes blackletter better than roman for readability:

What I would do is, yes, avoid the decorative aspect of blackletter, but only in terms of finish. In terms of structure (especially in the ascenders and descenders) I would leverage blackletter's wonderful divergence.


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