Font Junky (Day 128/365)

I took a break from the music today and instead went to http://www.myfonts.com to browse and see if I could find a typeface that absolutely must be the logofont for William Blake’s Inn.

I got through 50-something pages of 177, each with 24 fonts on it. I’ll do the rest today or this weekend. I love fonts. I absolutely love them. I don’t know why I’m this way, but I recognized early, like fourth or fifth grade, that I was really turned on by Old English or calligraphy. It is not a choice, it’s the way I was born.

It began when I discovered, hidden on a shelf, my father’s old Speedball instruction book. My pulse quickened, my breath came in short spurts, as I began to discover how beautiful letterforms could be, the power of downstrokes, the grace of a flourish, the delicate seductiveness of a serif. The fact that my father had Speedball nibs and a bottle of ink doomed me.

This continued in high school, when my girlfriend actually gave me for my birthday a catalog of typefaces, The World-Famous Photo Typositor® Alphabet Library*. (I’ve been blessed to have women in my life who understand my needs.) Ah, the insouciance of Windsor, the elegance of Vivaldi, the quirky fun of Potsdam, the stark beauty of Avant Garde!

Of course, I used to have to reproduce these by hand, and I highly recommend this for anyone who is serious about type: I learned exactly how the serifs joined to the stem, how the negative space made the letterform work, how the inside of the O related to the thick/thins of the strokes. Consequently, I can tell you exactly how Helvetica differs from Optima, or Times Roman from Goudy Old Style.

When desktop publishing entered my life through the Mac and Aldus’ PageMaker, I had version 1 of both, I was ecstatic. All those fonts I’d been drawing by hand, I now had literally at my fingertips. Nirvana!

As we progressed out of the twentieth century and into our current millenium, I noticed something interesting. Throughout the previous centuries, typeface designers and the artisans who turned their designs into pieces of wood or metal with which to print had a fairly uniform goal: clean lines, sharp edges, defined shapes. Avant Garde, Futura, Bodoni, every font strived for clean perfection.

But as we finally gained the means to achieve this sharpness electronically, unbound by the limitations of physical reproduction, a funny thing happened. Typefaces became stressed, messy, funky. We’ve entered a baroque period of type design. And typeface design has exploded across the internet.

All of which is to say, I really get off on fonts. And in my perusings yesterday, I found (among others) the following:

Allegheny:

Allegheny

Hoyts German Cologne:

St. Nicholas:

St. Nicholas

Relativity:

Relativity

Hesperides:

Hesperides

I love this. I absolutely freaking love this.

You too can play this game. Go to myfonts.com and start browsing. You can type in “William Blake’s Inn” for your default text. Anything you see that looks good, you can save by control-clicking (that’s right-clicking if you’re having to use Windows) on the font and saving the image. Rename it “wb-font-fontname.png” and email it to me.

*Putting The World-Famous Photo Typositor® Alphabet Library into Google earned me the thrill of having one and only one result pop up, a Swedish used-book seller! Isn’t there a name and a website for that?

4 thoughts on “Font Junky (Day 128/365)

  1. What’s the song: “My font is found, my website’s tight/ Now all I need is the girl…”?

    You know me. I want to look at plates of title pages from Blake’s original self-published books and see what’s there font-wise. Or his prophetic verses etched by hand, etc…

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