End of an era?

matt_desmond's picture

There have been a lot of very nice typefaces released in the past couple of years and it seems like the number of grunge/badly drawn typefaces is waning.

Has this been influenced by the design market wanting different/better products? Is it related to changing styles? Do you think that the digital fontmaking craze that Macs/PCs/fontographer brought about is over?

It seems to me there is still experimentation going on but it has shifted from "How illegible can we make this?" to making more technically enhanced and feature-packed fonts.

I'd like to hear what everyone thinks. Hopefully this topic isn't too outdated yet.

matt_desmond's picture

So, are you saying that evolution is the answer? ;-)

as8's picture

LOL

dan_reynolds's picture

The legibility debate seems to be so over. The little voice in the back of my head says, "that is so 1999," but the current movement has been building up speed since at least 1994. I don't know.

If the point of the moment is trying to figure out how many features can be packed into one font, then we still have a long way to go, as the current crop of tricked-out OT latin-based fonts only has two members to choose from.

russ's picture

I've always been a fan of clean, electro fonts, so I can't really say that grunge fonts are dying out - I rarely get to use them in my work.

But out of the whole discussion - isn't design all about progression and recycling. After all designers are constantly cutting and pasting and reforming, no matter what field of design you're in. (As I'm sure you all know.)

I just always look forward to new design (or rehashed) no matter where it's going.

hrant's picture

> House Industries has had a huge influence on the sway away from the total grunge.

I don't see that at all.
My impression is that during the "transition" all they did was basically abandon ship. It's only since then that their work has become notable, although as Paul Shaw remarked in his superb review of House in Print magazine something seems to have been lost as well - although it can always be regained, and with some of the stuff we saw this year maybe it already has.

Matthew, I think mainly what happened at first was a natural ignorant over-enthusiasm with the so-called "democratization" of type design. Then some of the well-meaning hooligans left and some others got serious, coupling their creativity with good craft. I think it's become really quite a promising time right now in type design.

hhp

pablohoney77's picture

i think like grunge music, grunge type went out with the '90s.

tal's picture

"as the current crop of tricked-out OT latin-based fonts only has two members to choose from"

Um, you are completely wrong about that. House has been producing (and promoting) OpenType fonts since 2001 -- essentially all of our fonts since the Las Vegas Font Collection have been shipped in OpenType format. The features in these fonts have become increasingly complex over the last three years. Our most recent release features a font that contains 1,384 ligatures that are intelligently placed via a complex range of contextual rules. I think this qualifies it as a "tricked-out OT latin-based font." Considering this, I've found the recent claims of "my feature is bigger than your feature" to be quite amusing, yet sadly pointless and misinformed.

Sorry to hijack this thread, but I felt compelled to clarify.

You may now return to your comments about us being washed up.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Hey, I didn't realize the Benguiat collection was actually shipping. Ed Interlock is one hip and wacky font! Congrats to all the hep cats at House.

I think the question would be what constitutes "tricked-out," but at the very least there are four families (Ed Interlock, Zapfino Pro Contextual, Caflisch Script Pro and Bickham Script Pro).

Interestingly, the typefaces with with the most different *kinds* of features are usually text faces, while it's display faces which seem to be making the most extensive and intricate use of contextual features.

T

hrant's picture

> I felt compelled to clarify.

Thank you! But of course now that we know you're here I hope you also feel compelled to participate outright. :->

BTW, does anybody really think House is washed up? The worst thing I for one would say is that you're just less innocent now - part of growing up (typographically speaking). And the fonts are certainly way better now.

Oh, and I totally agree about the Size Matters complex of late. To me there's something unhealthy in the "never use the same glyph twice" mentality for example. The stuff of yours that you showed at TypeCon is much more to my own liking, although still maybe a touch too mechanical/predictable to fully compete with the "real thing". The question is, at what point of complexity do you cross over into "worth faking"? House may have already crossed that line, although the closer you [try to] come to handwriting (as opposed to lettering) the farther the line escapes.

hhp

hrant's picture

Does Underware's new Bello cross that line?
Are variant letterforms enough to adequately mimic handwriting?
And does anybody mind that the brush was not the true source of its forms?

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I think the question would be what constitutes "tricked-out," but at the very least there are four families (Ed Interlock, Zapfino Pro Contextual, Caflisch Script Pro and Bickham Script Pro).

Four Latin script families/fonts. There are considerably more Arabic script fonts that make extensive use of contextual lookups, plus dynamic mark positioning and contextual repositioning, one-to-many glyph substitutions, and numerous other things that these 'tricked-out' Latin fonts don't do.

dan_reynolds's picture

Tal, sorry for rounding down to such a small number. Ed Interlock is indeed wicked cool, and certainly qualifies as being tricked-out. And I also think that the just-released Bello counts, too, if we are counting tricked-out latin fonts. So, at the moment we have between five and ten. I suspect that by this time next year, we will probably have closer to 100. So, instead of this being the end of an era, maybe it is the beginning of a new one. What do you think about that, Matt? Do you miss the grunge-era's style? Or do you think that our new era will be too technically oriented?

hrant's picture

Typical.

hhp

tal's picture

> Typical.

What does that mean?

hrant's picture

Actually, it's your turn first. :-)

hhp

John Hudson's picture

You're being more than usually gnomic, Hrant. To which post above does your monologue apply?

hrant's picture

Come on, anybody who's spent more than a month on a discussion board knows that some designers (especially those who make good fonts it seems) need "help" jumping in for real. And aren't you the one who doesn't like everything spelled out, Mr I'm-too-good-for-smileys? :->

hhp

John Hudson's picture

I just wasn't sure to what you were responding, that's all. I didn't know whether you were remarking that Dan was describing something that you consider 'typical', or that you thought his comment was 'typical' of some attitude of his own, or if your terse response was to something that someone else had said. Not every inference, touch of irony, or allusion needs to be spelled out, but complete sentences containing whole thoughts are appreciated.

hrant's picture

Fair enough.
It does seem Tal got it the first time though. :-)

hhp

John Hudson's picture

My post crossed your exchange with Tal: I hit preview, and then started answering an e-mail on the ATypI list, and then came back to finalise the post. Multitasking: inventing new ways to be late at everything.

matt_desmond's picture

So, instead of this being the end of an era, maybe it is the beginning of a new one. What do you think about that, Matt? Do you miss the grunge-era's style? Or do you think that our new era will be too technically oriented?

I definitely don't miss the grunge style. It lasted for long enough for me. I think that type design is headed in a good direction. I don't have any issues with having to be part programmer and part designer as long as the end product is an improvement on previous designs.

Miss Tiffany's picture

As long as there are design schools and new students attending those schools there will be more people wanting to know more about type design. Think about how often we get new threads repeating old questions about the technology.

I'd take a stab and guess that House Industries has had a huge influence on the sway away from the total grunge. If you look at there library's timeline you can see that they have been moving toward cleaner, more perfect, letterforms. Maybe they are unique, but I think that is also why they are ahead of the curve. Of course this is talking display and so maybe not answering your question.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Less innocent? Perhaps wise for their years, but the level of creativity coming out of House keeps me going back for more.

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