Don’t Believe the Type!

We will, we will Rockwell. Rock the Caslon. I Meta Girl. ITC Clearly Now. Tempted by the Frutiger ’nother. Weiss Do Fools Fall in Love? Rockwell Amadeus. Dax The Way (uh huh, uh huh) I Like It. Please Mistral Postman. If I Could Turn Back Times. Gill Sans in a Coma. Get Down Onyx. Myriad a Little Lamb. Clarendon (I Know This World is Killing You.) On the Wingdings of Love. I Wanna Bold Your Sans. Some Like it Haettenschweiler. Janson Queen. I Do Not Want I Avant Garde. Scenes From an Italic Restaurant. Hang On to Your Eagle. Take a Janson Me. My Name is DIN (and I am Fonty.) Font Like an Egyptienne. Hotel Caledonia. Electra Avenue. Garamond (My Wayward Son.) My Tahoma. Fear of a Black Italic. I’m So X-Heighted. Nothin’ V.A.G. Thing.

Twitter is reaching a cultural apotheosis right now with the #fontsongs topic, still trending strong. (Ms. American Typewriter Pie, Burning Down the House Gothic, Love Me Two Times Roman, Ring My Bell Gothic...) Special thanks to everyone who included an H&FJ font in their title (We Are The Champion, Knockout on Heaven’s Door, Whitney Baby One More Time, Dirt Didots Done Dirt Cheap, Auld Verlag Syne, It’s a Hard Knox Life, Chronicle Man…)

Yesterday I asked — rhetorically, I thought — “who can work Arnold Böcklin into one of these?” Meeting the challenge triumphantly came @mattwiebe with It’s Arnold Böcklin Roll (But I Like It), @mlascarides with Keep Arnold Böcklin (In the Free World), @angvalenz with Block Böcklin Beats, and @e_limbach’s No Sleep Till Böcklin. (I would also have accepted They Say The Arnold Böcklin Roll Is Still Beating.) Anyway, next challenge: “Figgins’ Two Lines Pica Antique No. 2.”

The thread’s still running if you want to join in. And if you really love me, darling, bring me Exocet. —JH

Fantasy League Typography

One of the things I most love about the design of the late nineteenth century is its unpredictability. Across all of the decorative arts there was a strong emphasis on novelty, and a succession of new technologies made it easier than ever to execute these strange and untested ideas. (You can see this in the terra cotta work of architect Louis Sullivan, or the elaborate inlays of furniture designer Gustav Herter.) The period was a riot of ornament, and to be sure, much of the work was awful: most of what we remember today is hopelessly cliché, or cloyingly overwrought. But then there are moments like these.

Above is a piece of nineteenth century engraving, which looks as if it might have been the product of a CalArts group project by Wim Crouwel and Louise Fili. (The rest of my fantasy league is no less oddball; images after the jump evoke Jonathan Barnbrook vs. John Downer, and Max Kisman vs. Marian Bantjes.) These excerpts come from an incredible collection of American sheet music from the period 1850-1920, currently being exhibited online by Duke University. The documents from the 1870s are my favorites, many of which are from the hand of an engraver named Reed (note his signature hiding in the fourth image below.) His stylistic pairings are among the more remarkable — above, the constructed sans serif and swelled rules are unexpected bedfellows. But some of my favorite moments are those in which unrelated visual agendas collide in the letterforms themselves. Is there anything more fabulous than the monoline blackletter of “Mazurka Elegante” below, or the squared-off shapes of the final line, “Tiny Birdlings of the Air?” Will you check out that lowercase g? —JH

Greek Week Continues

Typeface: Acropolis Black Italic

Right on the heels of yesterday’s post about Grecian italics comes this, a reminder that Swing University is back in session. Swing U, a production of Jazz at Lincoln Center, is a terrific series of courses directed by jazz authority Phil Schaap. Design Director Bobby Martin Jr. developed this identity for Swing U using none other than Acropolis Black Italic, what was heretofore the world’s only Grecian italic typeface, and certainly one of the most exotic faces in the H&Co collection. Every octagonal typeface has a collegiate quality, and Martin cleverly teased this out of Acropolis by adding a double outline that’s right off a varsity jacket. That he’s got the swash T in there adds a nice note of syncopation — a great way of marrying academics and bop. It makes perfect sense and looks great; to paraphrase Count Basie, “if it looks good, it is good.” — JH

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