FontFont TypeBoard let loose on stage

167 designers and counting. And perhaps a few more could soon be enlisted into the mighty FontFont family.

FontFont TypeBoard at TYPO Berlin 2013 © A. Blumhoff
Thinner thins, bolder bolds.Serif, sans serif, double serifs and swirls.

Glyphs, cyrillic, greek, latin.

Stencil, humanist, conical, diagonal.

F’s with flavour. Curves with character.

Q’s with tails turned upside down.

Spiekermann, van Blokland, Coles, Frohloff, Siebert, Gabrowitsch.

Hearing these heavy weights talk the talk was typographic music to my ears. I’m no font designer but as a graphic designer it’s almost a given that I’m a type lover. Plus I’ve done a fair share of work with type in my time, so you could also say I’m an advanced font enthusiast.

I must say, I felt a little like a fly on the wall, being privy to the open type review. It was almost as if I was eavesdropping, listening to and observing the masters critique the dozen or so shortlisted submissions hoping to earn a place in the ever so renowned foundry. The speed and pace in which they could rattle off fonts, the origins, identify a designer’s skill and level of experience, and convey the good and bad of each letter was just phenomenal. No surprises, they mind-blowingly know their stuff. It would be too much to try and re-cap specifics of the fonts in review. I also probably wouldn’t do the masters or any of the font designers justice.

But here are 5 things I learnt from the type casting:

  1. FontFont usually do families and not single weights. Families are expected.
  2. An idea should not be applied to one or several letters only. ALL the letters need to support one another.
  3. How would your font fit in the foundry? Difference is welcomed but would it sell? Do they need another geometric sans? How many more square typefaces does a foundry need?*
  4. Present well. Make it clear what you are submitting. Is it just one typeface or twenty? Standout specimens expressed clarity and details. Or at least they made sense.
  5. Arrows. They all seemed to really like arrows. Might just be worthwhile weaving in an arrow glyph or few.

Were any of the submissions accepted? We’ll just have to wait and see. All I can say is that the font enthusiast in me is still very much overwhelmed. But in the best kind of way.

*Side note: FontFont have more humanist sans serifs than any other library.
It better be pretty darn good if you go there.

Maggie Tang

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