Reading MA Typeface design 2009 typefaces now online!

clauses's picture

Dear Typophiles, I proudly present you this years typeface designs from the students of University of Reading's MA in Typeface design. You will find links to PDF specimens and 'Reflection on Practice' essays.

http://www.typefacedesign.org/2009/

There you will also find updated pages for the years 2000-08

Kind regards,
Claus Eggers Sørensen
MATD class of 2008-09

.00's picture

Here are two opposite sayings about teaching. One,from the movie The Karate Kid: “There are no bad students, only bad teachers.” The other from a prospective guitar teacher for my son when he was a teen: “It’s not the teacher, it’s the student.”

Actually Bill, these both seem to be saying the same thing.

And from someone who has studied and taught martial art for 30 years, believe me, there are plenty of bad students.

Miguel Sousa's picture

> This always strikes me as a strange way to look at it,

What's strange about it? What I'm trying to say is that there's a *really* narrow margin for innovation and novelty, when one's trying to design a workhorse typeface. Do you disagree with that? From what POV do you approach such project? For sure the brief will require that the typeface be functional, readable and legible. Those requirements alone constrain a lot of what can be done in terms of groundbreaking novelty. That's why getting those 5% is so difficult. And when you're designing a typeface for the first time that task can be almost unattainable.

> because if a typographer or designer is making a choice between two or more ‘readable/legible typefaces’, then that 5% that accounts for their difference constitutes 100% of the value that determines the choice.

I don't disagree with that completely. Because that also means that a typographer or designer will likely have less of a problem if he needs to swap text-typeface-A by text-typeface-B, whereas the task would be a lot harder if it were a display typeface. But, in practice there are more factors that affect the selection process, so I don't think that the onus solely falls on the 5% of novelty.

paul d hunt's picture

Scripts are not device-dependent, but nor are they entirely device-independent.

in fact, it seems to me that scripts that have been developed without any constraining devices (or written traditions) have suffered for it.

then that 5% that accounts for their difference constitutes 100% of the value that determines the choice.

i believe that this is partially the reason why text typefaces in today's typographic climate try to differentiate themselves with the palette of typographic features available.

Nick Shinn's picture

...scripts that have been developed without any... written traditions

Klingon?

blank's picture

What I’m trying to say is that there’s a *really* narrow margin for innovation and novelty, when one’s trying to design a workhorse typeface. Do you disagree with that?

What evidence do we have to prove that a good workhorse face must tack close to tradition? How many faces with lots of innovation and/or novelty even come in enough range to try using them as workhorse designs? Has the Adobe type team ever thought about doing something really crazy with a huge range of weights and optical styles instead of designing more faces derived from Renaissance type design?

paul d hunt's picture

@Nick well not NO written tradition, but a limited tradition. i think i listed the worst offenders (imo) in the thread on the ugliest script. let me see if i can dig it up... (here it is)

@James Brioso? Warnock? Sanvito?

edited: Adobe has done some quite 'crazy' stuff in the past, I'm pretty sure they don't want to go back in that direction. Just browse this list of Adobe Originals

was: I'm not sure Adobe would ever do anything really crazy...

Nick Shinn's picture

Furthermore, should there be such concentration on making text typefaces that are workhorses?

Almost all typefaces may be executed as both text and display fonts.
Does a workhorse become a thoroughbred when it is optically scale up?
So really, there is no such thing as a text typeface, just text fonts.

Admittedly, many "display" faces are not appropriate for extended setting of the main text in books and periodicals, but there is plenty of scope for at least minor idiosyncracies in typefaces for decks and sidebars which can run to many paragraphs, and which are most certainly read "immersively" -- and to which the fundamental principles of readability apply.

paul d hunt's picture

@ Nick perhaps part of the 'problem' is that the program is so freeform as to allow for the students to draft their own design brief. however, i see that a the programs strength and not a weakness. some students have drafted proposals for their work similar to what you describe above. As a shining example (and i'm sure you'll like this one) is Alice Savoie's Capucine (PDF), 'originally designed for listings magazines' by the author's own admission.

William Berkson's picture

>these both seem to be saying the same thing.

Ok, what is that "same thing"?

anhng's picture

I missed hand writing script. :)
(sorry for my silly comment)

typerror's picture

Is not it a bit duplicitous to target a young aspiring crop of potential designers for following a similar vein in light of lauding those "professionals" who rehash the Sans ethos with very little creativity. Sorry, but this thread just makes me laugh.

Edit: This is particularly hilarious to me as I just challenged a "foundry" for releasing two fonts that are scarily similar, to put it mildly (and I mean almost identical), and their response was that they were assured by the reseller that they did not copy! Since they were calligraphic it was a no brainer for me. Like I cannot tell the difference between ******* and ********. I did that to protect the frickin guilty!

blank's picture

@James Brioso? Warnock? Sanvito?

I was thinking something less along the lines of Robert’s calligraphic designs—although you are right that these designs are pretty out there when it comes to complex families—and more along the lines of stuff from the artistic printing or postmodernist movements that starts to really break away from traditional western models for serifed letters.

Michael, I know where you’re coming from; there need to be more “Typeface No. 2s” if people are going to keep writing variations on a theme.

Nick Shinn's picture

Paul, yes I like Capucine, I like all the student work. I like type!
But the beautiful Capucine is nonetheless a workhorse with the Reading look: micro-detailed styling on a frame that is low contrast, semi-condensed, large x-height, ascenders taller than capitals, and conventional letter-forms (with the exception of "backwards" W and tail to italic G). And Greek that is more casual than the Latin.

typerror's picture

Thank you James. I know I am not going to get a lot of support for that "rant."

Michael

Miguel Sousa's picture

> What evidence do we have to prove that a good workhorse face must tack close to tradition?

I didn't say anything about tradition. The terms I used were functional, readable and legible.

What I can say, from my attempt at designing a text typeface, is that when I tried to take an unconventional approach, and add some quirkiness and distinctive features, the design became too distracting, which is definitely a quality you don't want to see in a text face. This doesn't mean that it's not doable to some degree. Warnock and Alisal, already mentioned, are two good examples. To those I would add Vendetta, by John Downer, and Prensa, by Cyrus Highsmith, for example.

My opinion also comes from observing Robert Slimbach's at work and from discussing the subject with him.

typerror's picture

"This doesn’t mean that it’s not doable to some degree. "

Miguel
I was designing a catalogue for a war exhibit years ago. Jovica had just released his face and I found it idiosyncratic, sharp, disquieting and a bit angry. A perfect fit for the catalogue, as a text and titling face. Now I see that fonts can be used to imply a mood to those sensitive people who can see it, BUT the font can be used in "obscurity," as the other dunderheads who read it will not apply any personality to it... at least if it sets well.

Michael

William Berkson's picture

Actually, Slimbach's work is quite a contrast to the look that people have mentioned. --Which shows that there is some kind of strong influence going on that's not simply a matter of the demands of a good text face.

Nick Shinn's picture

...a bit duplicitous to target a young aspiring crop of potential designers..

Hey, I've spoken out, and my peers say hell no, Myriad ain't no Frutiger, and Helvetica is quite different from Akzidenz!

But who's targeting students?
They're getting much praise, and as James M explained, cannot be responsible for certain similarities of their work.

The important issue is whether it's good, bad, or irrelevant, in terms of the educational outcome.

Not a lot more for me to say, without some comment from the faculty.

.00's picture

They’re getting much praise, and as James M explained, cannot be responsible for certain similarities of their work.

How did I get dragged into this? I just made a stupid comment regarding bad martial arts students!

Nick Shinn's picture

Sorry, I must have misunderstood. "Actually Bill, these [opposites] both seem to be saying the same thing" was a bit cryptic!

fermello78's picture

Sorry again, for more off-topic.

Nick: That most calligraphic of modern classics, Palatino, has symmetrical serifs, demonstrating that serif style is not bound to stroke style.

I dunno. Definitely when I think of a new typeface, I don't necessarily take every little detail of what is more classic or established as the general rule. So I think it really depends. When I cited Jenson, I was just pointing that yes, there may be cases in which asymmetry in serifs isn't a redundant thing.

F

Graham McArthur's picture

Michael: Thank you James. I know I am not going to get a lot of support for that “rant.”

I support you 100%

John Hudson's picture

Miguel, I think we're looking at the same phenomenon from two different perspectives. One perspective looks at ‘functional, readable and legible’ as necessary goals of text typeface design, and hence considers what is extra to these -- the art, if you like -- as a small percentage of the task of type design. The other perspective considers ‘functional, readable and legible’ to be prerequisites rather than goals, which means that what is extra to them is something close to the whole matter of type design: it is to make typefaces that are not like other typefaces that is the raison d’être of most type design, certainly for the Latin script. We've got hundreds of ‘functional, readable and legible’ typefaces. The only possible justification for making more is that they are different.

Michael Hernan's picture

We’ve got hundreds of ‘functional, readable and legible’ typefaces. The only possible justification for making more is that they are different.

....or perhaps work within a (wider) system better. Allot of designs seem satisfied with just *one* instance. Its like: "Here I am - I'm a very legible font" – and then that's it. This is so for the 'Legibility Group' Fonts Ionic, Excelsior et al even Times Roman. (list goes on...) So even though a vast number of legible fonts exists does not mean they are particularly useful other then being fine models and fantastic influence. I will back-track a little by saying though optical sizes did exist as metal, this is not the case for the notable revivals in the digital era (I don't think Time 327 exists in digital?). [I will back-track even further, yesterday I realised that Times 327 wasn't actually optical, but was simply more compact... but anyway...)

The systematic approach *is* being dealt with by Adobe (Pro Fonts), Font Bureau (Readability) and others... etc.

Check Paul Shaw's article for this which covers contemporary examples: 'Scale and Spirit'. Eye 71. Volume 18. Spring 2009 pp. 62—69.

I see the work in this area still valid (yes it is very niche) when a broader net is cast. When solving more problems [i.e. creating a Bold for a Footnote (which is already bold)] will inevitably force the design to look different and so perhaps here on the outer limits of type design will then do a 'switch-back' and intern re-influence (the look or mechanics) of the rest of the typeface system?

...but once this work is done, perhaps will I have to agree, just changing the style a little is all that is needed and at which point I need to look for something else (more worthwhile) to do...

linking back to the argument: This is the stuff that is involving me now Where I was only allowed (time permitting)the concept of legible fonts working as part of a systemwas only able to exist as a *seed* at Reading.

To reflect a little on the theme of the thread, (and @John Hudson also alludes to this) in hindsight what my typeface *looks like* is insignificant just as long as it honestly is trying to accomplish set tasks (goals) (as was the orientation of my Reading Practical typeface brief). That being said, it is interesting get John's insight into to goals verses prerequisites. You could liken it to a shopping list with what you absolutely need and then the nice cakes (or shoes??)!

What would be particularly interesting is a distilling of this years designs shown with their original briefs [which are unfortunately hidden inside their RoPs (Reflections on Practice)] - Whether or not a student actually met their original goals would certainly be something to discuss rather then our feelings based on a cursory glance.

Idefix's picture

> Fermello:
Adobe Jenson looks similar to the original Jenson but you cannot compare those two fonts, in my oppinion. The Original Jenson is extremely fine elaborated but even looks strong and though, as compared with Adobe Jenson, and that is the importance of a readable font. Morris tried to improve the fonts performance, doing his Golden Type. Adobe Jenson is just a modern interpretation with calligraphic feeling of designer now. Typography should be though, Calligraphy smooth.

I think the most fonts made as Master works in Reading look like the same, generally they are outstanding, but it is getting boring to see where the tendency is going year by year; just a harsh mixture of heavy rectangular and calligrahic shapes. Doing a serious Textfont in nearly one year, is sheer impossible.

A very readable and successfull work of a modern interpretation with classic shapes is EASON from Randy Jones. He shows how to combine classic rules (and shapes) with the boundless possibilities of new computer software.

Cheers!

fermello78's picture

Idefix: Adobe Jenson looks similar to the original Jenson but you cannot compare those two fonts, in my oppinion. The Original Jenson is extremely fine elaborated but even looks strong and though, as compared with Adobe Jenson, and that is the importance of a readable font. Morris tried to improve the fonts performance, doing his Golden Type. Adobe Jenson is just a modern interpretation with calligraphic feeling of designer now. Typography should be though, Calligraphy smooth.

Agreed! I was never comparing Adobe Jenson to the original. I cited Adobe Jenson for the easiness of reaching its samples online (i.e. in MyFonts).

I think the most fonts made as Master works in Reading look like the same, generally they are outstanding, but it is getting boring to see where the tendency is going year by year; just a harsh mixture of heavy rectangular and calligrahic shapes. Doing a serious Textfont in nearly one year, is sheer impossible.

Well, it is a course, a school, it doesn't necessarily has the duty of releasing the best typefaces in the world every year to please the international type scene. ;)

I think David Brezina made the point some comments up. The 'sameness' come from similar briefs chosen by the students, being newspapers/dictionaries the preferred lately. And without a doubt, work from previous years end up having some influence on the new classes.

I think most of the students that go to Reading go there not only to learn how to do a text font properly, but also for what the program offers. The course is not only about the practicals, there is a lot of research and writing involved, like already pointed by David, which can be related or not to your practical chosen brief. The main goal of the practical part is to fulfill your initial brief with an "as finished as possible" typeface, but as already said, all published fonts that came from Reading took some more time to be produced before being released, of course all students are very aware of that.

Idefix's picture

Sorry Fermello, I just saw, you did not compare Original Jenson and Adobe Jenson!

You are right, if you say, Reading is more a school, a course for drawing and
designing letters.

What I want to say is, if Reading is just a school or a course, I would call it a very expensive course, just to learn the basics of Typedesign. Next is the degree, you get out there and call yourself Master of Typedesign, but what is the Title good for? I think if you get a Master Degree, your Master Work (Fonts, Typefaces, Thesis ...) should also be very excellence. About Research and writing, you talked about, I think it these two things for example are essential requirements if you apply for an Higher University Degree, or isn´t it?

blank's picture

…but what is the Title good for?

Getting student loans so you can spend a year on type design and still eat. ;-)

fermello78's picture

Idefix:What I want to say is, if Reading is just a school or a course, I would call it a very expensive course, just to learn the basics of Typedesign.

Next is the degree, you get out there and call yourself Master of Typedesign, but what is the Title good for? I think if you get a Master Degree, your Master Work (Fonts, Typefaces, Thesis ...) should also be very excellence.

Nothing new here, if you come from outside the UK (and specially from outside of Europe!), it is a very expensive course. It is more an UK-standards thing than the course being expensive on purpose.

The background of the students vary from people totally new to typedesign to people already doing typefaces. So it is much more about the experience of learning typedesign in a proper environment for that, rather than just learning the basics, or paying expensive to become a famous typedesigner. Your own process in learning/producing, your own achievements during the year, these kind of things end up being more important than anything else.

Read some of the RoPs and have a look at some of the essays and dissertations to find out more.

The title of 'Master' is academic and fair, since we research/write a lot, and in accordance with academic moulds. It may be of good help for bringing good opportunities such as a job in the area, the chance of writing articles, etc, but of course that will depend a lot on you, on how far you dig for it. Fair enough, IMHO.

Nick Shinn's picture

Whether or not a student actually met their original goals would certainly be something to discuss rather then our feelings based on a cursory glance.

Whether an individual student met their goals doesn't address the issue at hand--which is the similar look.
The cursory glance is not judging the individual face, it is noting the similarity between (many of) them. The subsequent feeling is wondering whether this conformity serves any purpose, educationally, or might even be detrimental.

It would be interesting to hear what the faculty has to say.

You are using "cursory" as a disparaging term, but it would be short-sighted to dismiss what is immediately obvious to a great many people. The essays and dissertations are irrelevant to this.

paul d hunt's picture

Whether an individual student met their goals doesn’t address the issue at hand—which is the similar look.

Then let's address this question even more broadly as this isn't only a feature of the MA program at Reading. Why do professional foundries also issue very similar typefaces? For example, why are we currently being inundated with slab-serifs? That is to say, I don't think the 'problem' of typeface design being a bit of a fashion industry and designers wanting to do 'what's hot' can be confined to the output of one school program. As with any any discipline, typeface design is subject to the ebb and flow of various trends. Why do all those impressionistic paintings all look blurry? Why can't I tell the difference between Didot and Bodoni? Why is a certain amount of 'sameness' such a bad thing? How divergent would you hope to see student projects?

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Re teachers: Strong personalities tend to impress themselves upon students. That has been happening for ages. In my art school a few teachers had whole slews of lookalikes in tow. In most cases these students find their own ‘voice’ after a couple of years.

It’s not a bad thing. Strongheaded teachers are mostly good teachers.

Considering the line up at Reading I can see that most of the teachers there are in this category.

In another context: this thread is way off topic now. How about starting a new one to discuss the merits ‘one’ face versus ‘another’?

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Michael Hernan's picture

You are using “cursory” as a disparaging term,

Not knowingly.
But that shouldn't detract from what I meant.

Hence suggesting something 'interesting' rather than fixating on similarity.

fixating

Yeah, I know – I'm not allowed to use verbs. They get me in trouble.
I'll leave it at that.

I am pretty comfortable that all fonts look 'similar' to a greater or lesser degree. They can't help it. They are all based on the same archetypal forms and readers are very conservative tending to be shocked at unusual letterforms - surely?

Idefix's picture

As far students project divergent from each other. In principle it should not be difficult, because like as students (normally humans at all), Fonts also are not alike and could be different in schools.
It depends also on the time, which one has available to create a font. Straight ones with a text fonts needs much time. It would be perhaps useful to sketch just a small part of a Typeface. For example just a regular type. In my opinion, to create a complete typeface (with italics too) it is too much for one year. Among them the quality suffers. Possibly not only the teachers affect the students separate themselves the students mutually.

More is less!

One said, if someone really wants to waste time by creating a Diplayfont, then he can do it. That sounds very negative, which it should not be however. Better a high-quality display font, than a indifferent text font. I think that is probably because of the guidance of the university, which exerts influence as good and various the fonts are.

Bert you are right, the thread is way off topic!

Nice day to all!

Michael Hernan's picture

@Idefix - Its the experience of trying the different styles out that is really important in the 6-8 months. And it is amazing what you can accomplish in that time. By trying out many things, you will end the course with the confidence that you indeed can do... an italic, a greek, a non-lat and a roman, and a bold and an italic - is that 2 italics, i just did one (in 2 days) wow!!! (that's alot) Then some people do more!

I also have high regard for Anette's Display face because of how she has pushed the style to work under reading conditions, but the person you mention being a bit negative about this also was correct because this is the time (on the course) to really learn the knowledge that you would otherwise not have an easy time getting at.

I am going to touch back on the dissertation - which I am busy finishing off now. It is only recently that I have fully appreciated how important it is in ordering out thought and clarifying ideas and concepts. Even though the knowledge is there in my head and I can use it instinctively in my work, trying to verbalise is a massive challenge. But now it has been forced out and fought with - to try and make coherent, its value shows.

@Nick is right that you dont need the written work to evaluate a type design. My angle on this that if there is no perspective - ie the brief or some note of intention then we are fumbling (Slap. Can't use verbs) around in the dark.

Nick Shinn's picture

...the thread is way off topic!

Discussing the educational process is just as much on topic as discussing individual typefaces.

k.l.'s picture

What a discussion. After remarks that many Reading typefaces are stylistically similar, a blast of replies:
-- We are informed about "similar briefs". I do not think that similar briefs need to result in similar typefaces. One can achieve similar effects in very different ways.
-- We are pointed to "research and writing". This discussion is about the typefaces, not about research and writing which, by the way, do not explain away anything. To the contrary. If research plays as an important role as has been emphasized, I wonder why, despite of it, the practical work is based on an ever same collection of ingredients or tricks.
-- We are advised to "address this question even more broadly". This discussion is about Reading, not about each and every typeface out there. (Of course type design is a fashion industry too. So it is even more important that students are made aware of it if they follow a current -- or outdated -- trend and are advised to look beyond that. Reading with its emphasis on type history should be the ideal place for this.)
-- And we are told that these are just "feelings based on a cursory glance" and we better "look more deeply". Sirs, this is outrageous. It is wonderful to hear that you, during a year of studying at Reading, have learned to 'see' type. But if now you think that everybody else is blind then you must be kidding (yourselves).

Karsten

Michael Hernan's picture

@Karsten. Nice. All of the comments that you have selectively highlighted (I believe) were made, when originally written – in the spirit of investigation, discovery and discussion. Somehow you have made them appear (with what I assume are your comments) to the contrary?

Though you have made a fantastic summery (ironically making it easier for someone to skip the entire thread), moving on... anyone might feel like they would be in for a 'right propper bashing' if they were to say anything beyond the obvious.

This is *way* too serious for me.

Being relatively 'new', I have realised I haven't gauged the tone quite right in this thread, but am still optimistic about further contributions from all typophiles on what is some *really cool* work.

/michael

fermello78's picture

Karsten: — We are informed about “similar briefs”. I do not think that similar briefs need to result in similar typefaces. One can achieve similar effects in very different ways.

I think we all agree on that.

They don't *need*, but *may*.

— We are pointed to “research and writing”. This discussion is about the typefaces, not about research and writing which, by the way, do not explain away anything.

That was a bit of a (off-topic) reply to Ideafix about what happens in the course. I wasn't trying to address the discussion with that.

paul d hunt's picture

We are advised to “address this question even more broadly”.

i'm sorry if suggesting a more personally interesting tangent to this conversation was taken to mean that others had not considered these ideas. that was not my intent. let me try again:

it seems that many critiques are based on the assumption that student work should be producing something new or different should that be the primary aim of education in typeface design. is it the novelty of a typeface that makes it worth the time of its development? is originality the most important aspect for design students to be learning? or what skills should students of typeface design be trying to develop?

i've attempted to answer as best i can from my perspective questions that people have made of the program, answering as someone who as done the program. i have no vested interest defending the Reading MA program. I have no interest in defending my own work as I feel that I don't have to as I am satisfied with the skills I learned through the program. the reason i have engaged in this conversation at all is because i feel that i have much yet to learn and am still asking questions in this thread, and then being chastised for stating my feeling and trying to better understand others' opinions on what makes for a good type design education. if this type of openess, and honesty and curiosity is 'outrageous' to you, then i'm sorry that i have not adequately contributed to this conversation.

Chris Dean's picture

@ Hunt: Well said.

k.l.'s picture

The 'outrageous' refers to the way Eben cut the discussion short: "look more deeply". In his later explanation he mused: "So some, even many, (most?) graphic designers will not be able to quickly assess the MATD designs, or to be fair, any other group composed of text faces. I have been a member of that group." In sum this says, albeit in thoughtful and somewhat paternal tone (yes young man I once was like you), you who dare say that some Reading typefaces look similar are not able to judge type at all. The words are "in the spirit of investigation, discovery and discussion" but the message is not.

Mr Mello, I took the phrase from your post but could have quoted from Eben's posts as well. I addressed topoi running through the discussion rather than choosing bits and pieces "selectively" as Mr Hernan suggests.

There are no reasons for me to bash Reading. Reading does a good job. What's worse to me, that would offend people who and whose work I like. (Actually, it already did.) What I am talking about is the discussion about Reading. I was and still am astonished to see how observations that are far from new -- and can be and have been made about KABK too -- resulted in partially fiercy replies.

ebensorkin's picture

I had been wondering if I was the one who had been outrageous. :-P It may be that the tone of what I was saying is being misread or that I am being outrageous or that I have expressed myself poorly. Or perhaps all three.

I am sorry if I came across as paternalistic. Or made it look like I was squashing debate. That wasn't my intent.

I do think that to many designers one text face looks very much like another. When I have net designers in the past and they find out that I am into type/a surprising number ( surprising to me ) have asked how they can better assess or choose a text face. They confess that that they have a hard time seeing differences. And as I said the pattern I described is also one that I have experienced as well, so to me it really rang true. It is also true that while this doesn't make us good or bad people but realistically we don't all have the same ability to asses type, especially type for text. This idea doesn't seem outrageous to me. Certainly I think my ability to assess text type has improved greatly while at Reading. But even more certainly I know I have much much further to go.

Also when I said look more deeply it wasn't meant to stop the discussion but literally to encourage people to look at the designs a bit more carefully than they seemed to be doing. I don't deny that things that seem similar are - on some level - similar irrespective of if you look deeply or not. So point taken.

I haven't had time to talk about the details of what I meant, and if I had then I would have to think about if it was appropriate to do it or not. What I can say is I do like much of the type my classmates made - some of that is probably the result of knowing them, watching their process and liking and or admiring them as people. But some of it is genuine admiration of the work.

Karsten I suspect than none of these ideas are in any way new to you. Moreover, I appreciate your being willing to take me to task if you feel that is what is appropriate. Feel free to continue if that is what you think best.

hashimpm's picture

Fiona Ross is credited with the design of Linotype Manorama, designed for phototypesetting in the 80's, converted to DTP by Summit as Panchari, cloned by C-DAC as Revathi and with many other clones in many different names. Despite C-DAC's 50 typefaces and my 30 typefaces in Malayalam, the same font in its various cloned versions remains the most popular typeface in Malayalam—even after three decades—which speaks of its quality, historic relevance and more importantly Fiona Ross's ability to assimilate the spirit of the language. One cannot blame her if Reading students' donot match her skills. They have just started and have a long way to go and whatever glimpse they have shown is promising.

I have always felt that Reading fonts have a marked Gerard Unger stamp on them, though I am a fan of his style, with Swift being one of my all-time favourites.

It is a different matter designing fonts for Indian scripts, most of them look like clones of existing fonts and nothing more. But I have always felt that one need to know a language (and culture) in depth to design something original (just how original can a font be is itself contentious) in it. We Indians often fail miserably when we try to design in another language other than our own mother tongue.

I am glad that Reading students have started looking beyond Roman, there are about a dozen Indian scripts which lack good variety fonts and if Reading students can create better Indian fonts after longer study, they would be as invaluable Ross's.

theplatypus's picture

Is this an MA focused completely to the art and design of typography? I am enjoying the work I see. :) Perhaps a study abroad is in order...

best regards,
daniel

Reed Reibstein's picture

Daniel, this discussion is about the MA in typeface design. Reading also offers MAs in typography & graphic communication, information design, and book design.

pinakide's picture

I am reading all the comments regarding non latin typefaces in this forum...i cannot vouch for other indian languages but as far as bengali is concerned we wake up everyday reading the linotype bengali in ananda bazar patrika...i personally find it pleasing to the eye...maybe you can always call it a bit of a habit but still it is also a testament of the strength of the font that others find so little takers...i agree with Jo that most of the graffiti we see in the streets of kolkata are derived from the basic font structure of linotype bengali. i acknowledge that of late indian designers are also doing great work (it is high time that we do a bit for our language) i like some of deborani duttagupta's work from whatever little i have seen...here is an interesting write up: http://www.colorsofindia.com/ajanta/writings/deborani-final-12-12-97for.pdf to be Still to be dismissive of a typeface that stood the test of time seems to be a motivated act...we should give due to a fantastic typeface that is now a springboard for further experiments...there will always be personal choices but lets not decide it here in the forum...designers for all their magical ideas are also very shortsighted in a way...the common readers sometimes ensure that the best one survives...

ebensorkin's picture

Another specimen went up recently. My very late one. ROP to come next.

http://www.typefacedesign.org/2009/

related thread from my typophile blog
http://typophile.com/node/62683

stormbind's picture

While I attended Goldsmiths, it was suggested that the strongest UK art/design institutions typically produce students with an 'in house' style. The reason is that those institutions recruit new students who share the 'in house' vision.

Put another way, the practice courses recruit new students with a portfolio that is compatible with the current strategic vision of the institution. That vision is predetermined by committee. My source is a well respected Goldsmiths researcher.

Consequently, it is expected that the majority of graduates will share a certain style. I think this comes across in the current thread.

I quite liked Okapi, but preferred the font selected for the reflections on practice.

neverblink's picture

Eben, there is a little mistake in your specimen on page 31

f+i = ffi

Oh, and I might add it's a lovely font you have created!

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