Typeface for a small run, handmade photograpy book

paulraphael's picture

I'm looking for advice on type for an artist's book. The book will be mostly photographs, printed in warm quadratone, one to a page (in some cases one to a spread). There will type on title pages, acknowledgements, and on a one or two page essay. The type is set simply, fairly large (13pt) and the essay is set with very large margins. Page size is 15 x 13 inches.

The photographs are dense and lush, but of stark subject matter, and formally could be seen as late modern. The overall time feel of the images is "some time in the 20th or 21st centuries."

I've expermimented with a couple of treatments, including sans serif (which just seemed to plain in the context of the work) and traditional serif faces like Garamond and Bembo, which seemed to "retro" and to overemphasize that aspect of the work.

My current mockup uses Mrs. Eaves. I like the general look of it, but the letterspacing in the body copy is kind of wonky. Also, it seems kind of trendy right now ... I'd prefer something with a similar feel but fresher.

As a final note, I may end up having the text printed letterpress from plates made from digital files. Mrs. Eaves seems designed to give a "letterpress look" and I'm not sure if it's a good idea to print a face that mimics letterpress on an actual letterpress. However, I may end up printing conventionally, so ideally I'll use a type that would work with either approach.

Any thoughts on what I might look at?
Some samples of the photographs are at www.paulraphaelson.com

Thank you very much for any help.

paulraphael's picture

Anyone? I'll send you cookies if you can help.

John Nolan's picture

FontFont's Seria, or Seria Sans, Storm's Sebastian and Lanston's Deepdene.

dana's picture

When travelling in neighbouring states, I

paulraphael's picture

Thanks for all the advice, everyone.
I've been experimenting a lot, and nothing looks as good as Mrs. eaves for the title page and cover type. But it's not working for the body copy, partly because of the low x-height and partly because of the messed up letterspacing.

Of everything I've looked at for the text, the two faces that look best are baskerville (which I guess eaves is based on) and cochin.

Do you think it's strange to use two different serif text faces like this? They won't be on the same page as each other ... the mrs. eaves will only be at the front of the book, since there won't be display copy used with the text.

One thing I find I like for this project is a capital W without a center serif (as in the baskerville and the eaves, but not the cochin). I know this sounds nitpicky, but it stands out for me since the title starts with W.

martay's picture

How about Vendetta? It's got a bit of quirkiness that adds character (No pun), but it's not silly. It has an edginess that would stand up to the blackness of the photos (I took a peek; rich work

hrant's picture

If you want a Mrs Eaves that actually works for text, try The Foundry's Wilson:
For one thing, it's not trendy at all - it's pretty rare.

Another option is to use InDesign, since its optical spacing fixes Mrs Eaves's horrid spacing.

Photopolymer letterpress printing: since letterpress has notable gain while offset doesn't, you can't really have the same exact font come out nice on both mediums. But if you find a typeface that has many weights in a very tight range (or if you manage to tweak the weight of the font yourself, or maybe outsource that task) then you could just swap the two weights as needed. Just watch the linebreaks if the two weights are not uniwidth.


hrant's picture

Spooky. Today I got the latest issue of M-Real magazine (which includes an interesting co-interview with Spiekermann, as well as an article about the mechanics of reading/perception) and guess what font they're using for text and titling: Wilson!


defrancisco's picture

Hi Paul,
Looking at your photographs I keep thinking of Franklin Gothic. It may be the foreigner's romantic view of early 20th Century New York but, to me, those desolate industrial spaces are calling for some of Benton's faces.

I think a nicely spaced and carefully sized Franklin Gothic Heavy would work very well for titles and, specially, captions. And if you print photopolymer-letterpress it will help convey the strong human-scale dimension of that face.

Raph Levien has on his site some images of the 1923 ATF specimen book, with nice samples of both Franklin and News Gothic.
Link to Linotype's ITC Franklin Gothic.

I hope this helps, your work is really good and, regardless of your type choice, I'm sure it will be a beautiful book.

paulraphael's picture

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Thank you, Jesus, for the kind words about my work.

I'm interested in earlier the remark that Mrs. Eaves' spacing is fixed by Indesign. I thought this might be the case and printed a sample; indesign definitely flowed the paragraph better, but the letterspacing within the words was about the same. Is there a preference or something within the program that can adjust this?

I've also been looking at Veljovic. The color is a bit light, but otherwise I like the type very much.

I'm definitely sticking to serif fonts .. my experiments with sans serif just haven't worked out for this project.
Still looking, but I'm considering all the suggestions here and I greatly appreciate all the input.

raph's picture

Of the suggestions above, my favorite is the Wilson. If the Mrs Eaves is working for you, the Wilson will probably work just as well or better.

Especially if you're going to go through with the photopolymer, I might also suggest Centaur. The current digitization suffers from being a bit thin and spidery, but cranking up the press gain could fix that. I'm working on optically scaled versions, but it's going to be quite some time before those are ready.

The Sierra Club has used Centaur in their photo books to great effect. I was just looking at "This is the American Earth".

marcox's picture

Regarding your question about word spacing in InDesign:

Open the Paragraph palette. In the fly-out menu, choose Justification. Then set the Desired value to something less than 100% to tighten the word spacing. (I've used values as low as 40%-50% for headlines.)

Note that the Minimum and Maximum settings only come into play when text is justified, and that your Minimum percentage must always be smaller than the Desired setting.

John Nolan's picture

You are using "optical kerning" rather than "metrics", aren't you.

And, if you like Wilson, you really need to check out FF Clifford. There will be no need to fix the spacing with it!

paulraphael's picture

I was originally using metrics, which seemed quite uneven. optical kerning improves the evenness, but doesn't actually make it look right.

Does anyone have opinions on Storm Andulka? I've been looking at Storm's samples and I like it very much. I'm considering using it for text, and using Mrs Eaves for the titling capitals. I have a hard time trusting my judgement based on someone else's text samples (in Czech!).

jthomas's picture

Some really good suggestions here.

Keep in mind that with traditional letterpress, depending on the font and paper choice, the line weights can tend to come out appearing just a tad narrower than with other printing methods.

Have you considered using Democratica as a typeface? It's got a twist to it, and I particularly like combining the cap and lowercase letterforms in the same word, as they have the same height.

Might be a bit trendy, tho.

Stephen Coles's picture

I like John's direction. In the same vein: FB Calibornian, which
is akin to Deepdene and Berkeley but with the versatility of three
optical weight classes.

Stephen Coles's picture

I also have a feeling Elmhurst would do well on letterpress.

FF Atma is a nice alternative to Mrs. Eaves, with better spacing
and a ton of features.

Here are links to Seria, Scala (its cousin with a larger x-height),
Seria Sans, and Sebastian.

I want those cookies.

Stephen Coles's picture

Funny, Dana. I was about to fix my misspell but now I'll leave it
in favor of maintaining thread continuity. ;)

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