Slimbach's new Garamond

addison's picture

I just noticed the "coming soon" announcement on Adobe's type page in the bottom right corner. Is this the new Garamond that Slimbach has been working on? I'm assuming the optical sizes are what makes this version significant? Is it more historically accurate?

hrant's picture

Optical sizes are probably the single most important change, but I'm sure Slimbach is also applying everything he's learned since making the original Adobe Garamond (which was once handily trounced in an exhaustive -and in places exhausting- review in the APHA journal).

hhp

victor's picture

Do you have a full reference for that? (Or even more of a lead?) Thanks.

Victor

hrant's picture

Victor, you mean the APHA thing?
Check out the first hit for "Garamond" here:
http://www.printinghistory.org/htm/journal/contents.html
(Pages 69-106, in case you need to do a "blind copy request" from somewhere.)

hhp

victor's picture

Perfect -- that's it. Thanks!

Victor

addison's picture

Victor,
If you want more on Slimbach's new Garamond, here's this link from Typographi.ca, but I don't know anything else. I was hoping someone else would...

Hrant,
I'll admit that Adobe Garamond is a well-made font family, but I've always thought it was kind of, well, plain (I don't know what problems APHA found). Stempel Garamond has more character in my opinion, which I know can be a bad thing in some cases. George Abram's Augereau--which I like--was missed by many, but when the digital version came out, I never heard a peep. I also thought Tiro's Garamond was nice, but I never heard much about it either. I wonder how this one will be received...

kakaze's picture

I love Adobe Garamond. The US editions of the Harry Potter books (don't say anything) are set in it

Thomas Phinney's picture

Well, I'll admit to knowing a fair bit about it, though I can't comment on much of it.

The new Garamond is more closely modeled on historical masters, including having optical sizes. I don't know whether Rob was influenced by or even aware of the critique in the APHA Journal (knowing him, I'd be inclined to guess not on both counts!), but I believe that every typeface he has done since 1991 has had optical size variants.

In the new Garamond, each optical size is a completely distinct. Combining that with the extensive multilingual support (CE, Greek and Cyrillic), and an extensive set of added typographic functionality, it is one of the most ambitious typefaces Rob has ever done. Personally, I also think it's one of the best, from what I've seen so far.

Partly because it hews closer to the Garamond originals, and partly because Rob had different objectives on this one, I think the new Garamond is also more "flavorful" than Adobe Garamond (or Minion, for that matter).

On the side, I find it interesting that some of the Typophiles on this board criticize Adobe Garamond and Minion for having insufficient "flavor" or distinctiveness. I subscribe to the "crystal goblet" theory of typography, which suggests that the goal of typography ought to be to show off and subtly enhance the message, without drawing attention to itself. I think workhorse typefaces like Minion and Adobe Garamond do that extremely well, while some of the typefaces that are put forward as superior alternatives have more flavor, but as a result are simply not as versatile.

In my personal point of view, what will be really interesting to see in the new Garamond is how well Rob is able to make it more flavorful without much reduction in versatility.

Rob's recent work seems to me to explore the boundaries of the possibilities in flavor versus versatility (kind of like a production possibilities frontier curve in economics). Good examples of pretty masterful stabs at this in his recent work are Warnock and Brioso. They take different spots on the flavor/versatility curve, but they both seem to me to be pretty much at the maximum bounds for combining the two. That is, neither could have more of one without a reduction in the other.

Regards,

T

addison's picture

Chris,
First, anyone who says they haven't read Harry Potter is either lying or an over-the-top religious fanatic. Secondly, Adobe Garamond is a very readable, workhorse of a font family and I have great respect for it. My downfall in typography is that, currently, I prefer types with some quirkiness which, I'll admit, is not preferable in book typography. Adobe Garamond is kind of vanilla to me, but that is probably one of its greates attributes according to the "crystal goblet" theory (you're right Mr. Phinney).

Mr. Phinney, thanks for the teaser. I have great respect for Mr. Slimbach and his work -- I wouldn't expect my opinion to mean a hill of beans to him. Jenson and Warnock are two of my favorites along with Cronos, which I think is a beautiful humanist sans. Much of the feeling about Garamond and Minion may be due to their frequent appearance in books, magazines, annual reports, ads, and so on and so forth, but that probably only reinforces how usable they are. I certainly look forward to the new Garamond -- that's why I started this thread.

Thanks,
Addison

hrant's picture

From what I know, Slimbach was not only aware of the APHA review, but it actually affected him deeply, and directly motivated him to start working on an improved interpretation. As for casting him as some sort of hermit who doesn't pay attention to what's going on outside: yes, he virtually never shares any of his insight, but many (maybe most) of his designs are clearly based -even motivated- by what other people have thought and felt. "Dzour nsdink, shidag khosink" - let's sit crooked but talk straight.

The Crystal Goblet business: I think it should be pretty obvious by now that -at least in this dimension- Warde was being a cheerleader for Morison's blind ideology. There can be no crystal goblet as long as a human being is involved in the making of something. And there should be no crystal goblet as long as the point of making something is other humans.

That said, I do agree that versatility and individuality are largely opposed, and Slimbach has often struck the balance well. But not any more. At the moment, and for the forseeable future, we simply don't need any more blandness, please.

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

> Slimbach has often struck the balance well. But not any more.... we simply don't need any more blandness, please.

So you consider his recent work such as Warnock, Brioso, or the optical size extensions to Utopia to all be bland?

T

kakaze's picture

Hrant, what did this APHA review say?

hrant's picture

I think "flavor" isn't about how angular or dynamic the letterforms might be, it's maybe about how the letterforms -and their groupings- have unexpected features (even though I do agree with you when you imply that this reduces readability - but there's much more to type design than readability). To be fair, Warnock does have a bit of this (it's very clearly Slimbach's best work), but all the other fonts Slimbach has ever made (with the possible exception of ITC Slimbach - a design that I think he should consider taking another look at, to see what he might have lost since making it), including Brioso*, are simply too polished** - not enough humanity in them, heck, not enough Robert Slimbach in them! Also, to me optical size extensions are a technical thing, not "flavor".

* Which furthermore suffers from being too much like Rialto.

** Something you must have noticed numerous people have against many Adobe fonts. BTW: The best design in your entire library? Kinesis MM.

Chris, look at the page range, dude. :-)
But basically the reviewer says the font doesn't do the original justice.

hhp

rs_donsata's picture

Yet another Garamond... is this something like the refried movies?

John Hudson's picture

Combining that with the extensive multilingual support (CE, Greek and Cyrillic)...

Thomas, is the Greek based on Garamond's Grecs du roi, or has Robert devised his own Greek companion design?

John Hudson's picture

Regarding the APHA review of Adobe Garamond, this needs to be read not merely as an exhaustive critique of this typeface but also of the whole method of digital revivals at that time. Adobe Garamond was one of the first of such revivals, so the APHA article is especially interesting as a critical response not only to Robert's design but also to digital type in general.

The best design in your entire library? Kinesis MM.

Yikes, something else that Hrant and I agree on.

kakaze's picture

"Chris, look at the page range, dude. :-)
But basically the reviewer says the font doesn't do the original justice. "

Am I missing something? There's no way to read the article is there?

hrant's picture

You mean online? Not that I know of. But you could always do it the old-fashioned way: order a back issue; or maybe find a local university library to do an InterLibraryLoan for you.

hhp

kakaze's picture

bah

Thomas Phinney's picture

I went and pulled out my copy of Printing History #26/27. I just thought I'd note that there are *two* reviews of Adobe Garamond in that issue. The one by Mark Argetsinger is quite critical, as Hrant notes. The one by Jerry Kelly is quite complimentary. After some minor criticisms, Kelly says that "nonetheless, Adobe Garamond is the most accurate derivation of Claude Garamond's types done to date, and a significant addition to the world's typographical resources. In fact, some of the face's less immediately obvious features contribute substantially to its beauty, and bear discussion." The summation at the end of his review is in a similar vein.

As for the Argetsinger review, it is quite interesting as well. His main criticisms of Adobe Garamond are that it:

- diverges more than needed from the original, particularly in areas of regularization

- is based on Garamond's punches without regard for their impression on paper (the latter being the way the types appeared in actual use)

- lacks optical size variants

Some time next week I'll comment more on the origins of Slimbach's new Garamond.

Regards,

T

hrant's picture

You're honestly comparing the breadth and depth of Argetsinger's piece with Kelly's?

> Adobe Garamond is the most accurate derivation of Claude Garamond's types done to date

1) One could say that's not saying much...
2) What does "accurate" really mean? I have to wonder if Kelly really knew the field, either in terms of what Garamonds have been made and what "accuracy" in type design really can be. Like what about Stempel Garamond? Wouldn't you say that the "roughness" in the Stempel makes it more authentic = accurate?

I think Slimbach's efforts towards making a "real" digital Garamond are highly commendable. I just hope he can tame the Northern California disease of "cuteness" in the process, otherwise we'll just end up with a fancier version of the current Adobe Garamond.

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

There you go putting words in my mouth. I did no such thing. However, I thought it was odd that you made repeated references to the negative review without mentioning the positive one. I gave more details on both.

I can't tell you what Jerry Kelly meant. I don't know him, and haven't talked to him about the review. You'd have to ask him.

As for me, I am not all that fond of the extra angularity in Stempel Garamond. The lowercase "a" in particular bothers me. The shortened "f" is also a little irksome. But it is still among the better Garamond revivals.

T

hrant's picture

> I thought it was odd that you made repeated references to
> the negative review without mentioning the positive one.

I'd actually forgotten about the positive one, even though I'd photocopied it along with the negative*. But I think that's only because it's not nearly as significant a contribution. The Argetsinger piece is a venerable elephant among font reviews. To me it's not highly worthwhile mentioning all other Adobe Garamond reviews ever written in the same breath, especially not one that seems to have been tacked on as political appeasement. On my end, I found it "odd" that you were casting the two reviews as equals.

* In fact you'll notice that the page range that I gave covers both - I simply didn't notice that those last five pages of my copies were not the end of the Argetsinger piece.

And if I'm indeed exhibiting some partiality (even though I really do try to see -and point out- good things in Slimbach's oeuvre), at least it's not constantly and consistently for my employer.

> I am not all that fond of the extra angularity in Stempel Garamond.

Well maybe I'm not either (although actually I am), but my point here was that "accuracy" business.

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

> And if I'm indeed exhibiting some partiality (even though I really do try to see -and point out- good things in Slimbach's oeuvre), at least it's not constantly and consistently for my employer.

Do you have a full-time employer in this business? If not, it's a false comparison. Further, are you really incapable of seeing that I spent as much of my last post explaining what Argetsinger critiqued as I did noting Kelly's praise?


On the other hand, I work for Adobe in large part because I like many things that the company has done and continues to do. I have turned down job offers from companies both larger and smaller than Adobe in the last couple of years. So sure, I like Adobe pretty well. If I didn't, I'd be working for somebody else or self-employed.

In any case, if you want to continue the move toward personal attacks, I will just go back to my "never respond to Hrant ever under any circumstances" policy. It's a shame that you can't draw the line that most people do between discussion of ideas and assaults on people's character.

Back on topic, I don't see that the extra angularity of Stempel Garamond is particularly more "accurate" in the Argetsinger sense of reproducing the original Garamond ink on paper effect. In fact, I would say that having more rounded shapes is "more accurate" in that sense. That's why I brought it up in response to your question. But it's hard to say what exactly Kelly meant; as you say, his review does not have the depth of Argetsinger's.

T

John Hudson's picture

I quite like Stempel Garamond, but it is not particularly accurate in the sense of being closely based on Claude Garamond's types. It is more accurate than the large number of 'Garamonds' that are based on Granjon's types, but that really isn't saying much. The angularity is, as Thomas indicates, the feature of Stempel Garamond that is actually least like Garamond's types.

Having spent several months with photographic enlargements of Garamond's printed types stuck up around the studio while Ross was working on his 1530 Garamond, I know some things about them. Angular they ain't.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Hrant wrote:

"From what I know, Slimbach was not only aware of the APHA review, but it actually affected him deeply, and directly motivated him to start working on an improved interpretation."

I finally got around to talking to Rob about this today. He says it only "affected him deeply" to the extent that it irked him. He mostly paid attention to the criticism of the lack of optical size, and that was something that he was already aware of and had been continuing to do more with in his newer designs.

If one looks at the chronology, in 1989 Adobe Garamond was released. It included a set of titling caps. In 1991, Minion was released, including a full "display" font. At the same time, Minion MM was under development, which further extended the optical sizes to cover everything in the typeface from 6 pt to 72 pt.

I'm not sure if Minion MM had shipped yet, but this was the context in which Robert read Argetsinger's review, which appears to have come out in early 1992. So from Rob's point of view, it was just jumping on the bandwagon of what was already happening in Rob's design in the intervening several years since Adobe Garamond had come out. There were no new insights for him.

Robert does acknowledge a major outside influence on his new Garamond, but it's not that article. Instead, it's an optical size experiment Stephen Harvard put together in 1989. Harvard was on the Adobe type review board at the time, and was a big Garamond fan. He did an experiment with a lower-case Garamond "a" interpolating from a small size to a display size. Rob thought this was very interesting. But the temporal and technical constraints Rob was working with made it impractical to do anything with this idea at the time.

Regards,

T

hrant's picture

Thanks for asking him directly.

> [Harvard] did an experiment with a lower-case Garamond
> "a" interpolating from a small size to a display size.

Bridget Lynn Johnson did that two years prior. In fact she analyzed a number of characters and even came up with an interpolation formula! The formula is linear, however, which tells me ol' Garamont was good at optical scaling, but not exceptionally so. Look to the ATF boys (they were engineers) for the pinnacle in optical scaling.

BTW, I'd still love to see Harvard's work too - if you can dig that up that would be super.

hhp

hrant's picture

> the ATF boys

To be fair to Linotype (as Kent has made me realize), it should be said that towards the end (like with their Primer typeface) they probably rose to the same level that ATF had been - although it's significant how much later that was; the Lino boys could easily have done exactly what I've done in extracting the optical scaling smarts from the ATF efforts.

hhp

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