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TypograFriday: Fonts of 2009


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We’re a little late to the party here but the last month and a half has been a busy one. Here we are, weeks into 2010, finally getting around to bidding adieu to 2009’s year in type. Here’s some of our favorite typefaces released last year – please click through for larger more interactive samples:

mostranuevo
Mark Simonson’s Mostra was on my watchlist back when it was an all-caps display face a la AM Cassandre with a few weights and stylistic alternates. Mostra Nueva adds several more weights as well as lowercase, making it a useful contender that one can set shorter text in as well as display type. I often find retro letterforms like those curved-line “s” distracting or inappropriate: for me a type is profoundly better when it offers the standard forms as options as well.

lizapro
Underware makes our day with every release. Liza Pro, a lively upright brush script is perhaps their best yet. The caps version plays great with the script and the jauntiness of the whole thing is as right-on as House’s releases.

mreaves
Some people hated Mrs. Eaves, Licko’s mid-nineties Baskerville with a zillion ligatures. We really liked it, though over time it sort of faded from our hearts. However, Mr. Eaves, the sans companions, are fantastic: the “sans” form is like Gill but with fewer awkward spots (and more resolved heavy weights and italics) while the “modern” version changes out some details to become a warmer Futura. Both are well-proportioned and quite beautiful.

gothams
It’s funny to think of type as commerce, but on some level the idea of making narrow and condensed forms of Gotham is as clearly a good idea as making a sequel to a Hollywood blockbuster. Gotham has been used all over the place in the last few years, and extending its range by making more condensed versions will only heighten its ubiquity. The narrow in particular I think we’ll see a lot of in 2010.

catacumbo
While the standard forms of Catacumba Pro are interesting and charming in a decidedly pre-digital way, the floriateed/tuscaned display version really shines. It’s so expressive and unusual I have found myself stealing its forked tongue serifing for type in my sketchbook.

Eloquent
Although it was released in 2009, Eloquent is a revival of a late 60s ad typeface. Given the enduring contemporary trends (mostly in music/culture) for retro swash ITC and, say, Avant Garde Ligatures + the Si Scott et al maximalist hyperswashiness, it’s not surprising this would be revived in (or feel so at home in) 2009.

buttermilk
You know we love Jessica Hische. Buttermilk is only her first foray into commercial typemaking, but we hope not the last. She’s an ace with the letters, for sure.

trilby
We also love slab serifs and are always on the lookout for more really fine examples. We only sometimes love reversed stress type (Ben Shahn did some fantastic ones) – generally speaking they’re not fit for consumption outside of circusy/western posters. Where Trilby differs from the PT Barnums of the world however is that its stress proportion is subtle and very considered: the balance of form and counterform in the face are as beautiful as Caecilla or Clarendon.

vesper
This sample doesn’t do it justice. A very legible face with fantastic sharp curves and bracketed serifs, Vesper is like faves Vendetta and Freight Micro but with a more calligraphic basis.

hannah
Like the titles of Dr. Strangelove, and more current films like Where the Wild Things Are, Hannah is handlettering in a confident monoline. Charmingly, it comes in three degrees of compression, which mix and match to great effect.

libelle
2009 was the year I learned how to write pointed pen (copperplate) calligraphy. In the course of that class, I was surprised to see that, while there are dozens of digital models of the form, there are few that are anything but stiffly mechanistic. Libelle corrects that lack; with plenty of contextual alternates plus a very warm flowing line, it feels more like what I went into that class to learn than anything I have seen on a computer screen.

(texts from Time’s list of top 10 Animal Stories of 2009 except Libelle’s — dang LinoType doesn’t have a previewer)

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