Focus :: Contemporary Type Foundries :: Part 2

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Following on from Contemporary Type Foundries Part 1, presented below are the final six type foundries I’ve chosen to display. So, without further ado…


Author: Bradley Hotson for The Graphic Design School
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The Foundries

Exljbris

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The distinctively coloured Exljbris homepage and a sample from their Didone-like typeface Questa. Imagery used with kind permission of © Exljbris.

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Striking artwork by graphic designer Kristian Bjornard who has experimented with and modified Exljbris’s font Geotica Three.

Described on its blog as a ‘one-man Dutch font foundry’ Exljbris was founded by Jos Buivenga. Exljbris is where Jos releases and offers his typefaces. For 15 years, his online friends and fans could follow the development of his typefaces and download the results at no cost. In 2008, while still working as an art director at an advertising agency, he released his first commercial typeface Museo with several weights offered for free. That strategy paid off and Museo became a huge bestseller. Partly thanks to that success he now calls himself a full time type designer. Recent projects include a custom version of Museo & Museo Sans for Dell and the Questa project, a collaboration with the well-known type designer Martin Majoor.

Linotype

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(Top) The Linotype homepage is a portal to typographic manna; (below) a tantalising collection of Linotype specimens. All imagery used with kind permission of © Linotype.

Linotype should need no introduction, being at the centre of typographical innovation (and upheaval) for the past 120 years (in one guise or another). This from their website: “The day Ottmar Mergenthaler demonstrated the first linecasting machine to the New York Tribune in 1886, Whitelaw Reid, the editor, was delighted: “Ottmar,” he said, “you’ve cast a line of type!” The editor’s words formed the basis for the company label, and marked the beginning of Linotype’s success story. Four years later, the ingenious inventor founded the Mergenthaler Linotype Company. Little did he know that after more than 100 years of successful business the Linotype, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Monotype Imaging Holdings Inc., would be following in his footsteps.”

Today, Linotype sees itself as a partner to typographers and designers and has one of the world’s largest font libraries (10,500 typefaces and counting). Its comprehensive website is a masterly feat of navigation; visitors able to search for fonts not only through technical specifications but also by intended use (text, corporate, screen etc.), type foundry and character set features. In addition the Linotype Form Finder makes it possible for users to reshape a font sample displayed in order to select the kind of typeface he is looking for. There are so many other useful services and products on the Linotype site that it’s probably better you just have a peruse rather than read me prattling on.

HypeForType

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(Top & middle) HypeForType’s homepage complete with arresting 3D type artwork and type specimens of Killer, Neo Deco and Links, which form distinctive pieces of design in their own right. HypeForType turned 1 recently and posted this announcement on their blog. Imagery used with kind permission of © HypeForType.

“A labour of love for founder Alex Haigh” is how HypeForType is described on its website. The foundry is 1 year old now and already has an impressive collection of high quality, new and exclusive faces as well as some esoteric and unusual ones. Their blog is a good read, you’ll find competitions, interviews and exciting announcements there. Perhaps most striking of all is HypeForType’s predilection for working with some of the design industry’s big names, collaborations which produce unique one-offs available exclusively through HypeForType.

LucasFonts

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LucasFonts’s website embodies much of what might be termed International or Swiss style design. Beneath are two examples from Germany of their fonts in use. Imagery used with kind permission of © LucasFonts.

Lucas De Groot founded his own type foundry, LucasFonts, in 2000. Its aim, in a few words: “to make the world a better place by designing typefaces that look good and work well under any circumstances and in many languages.” The website claims “Graphic designers across the planet have discovered the special qualities of Luc(as)’ fonts. They are attracted by their functionality and friendly appearance and love the enormous range of possibilities that each family offers. Many also appreciate the idiosyncrasies – a quest for extremes that has resulted in some of the narrowest, thinnest, wittiest or boldest typefaces around.”

LucasFonts has a sister company, FontFabrik which specialises in custom typefaces and is now world-renowned, having designed fonts for Microsoft, Heineken, Siemens and Volkswagen.

SMeltery

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Shown above are SMeltery’s idiosyncratic homepage, type specimens of Heretica, Geronto Bis (which Jack is particularly proud of) and Enfer, and engagingly designed samples of Sans Merci and Soupirs. Imagery used with kind permission of © SMeltery.

SMeltery is a French type foundry founded by Jack Usine in 2002, which offers a very attractive range of display-type faces. There are some gems to be found in the ‘free’ section, though Jack’s currently most proud of recent works like Vidange, Megalopolis and Geronto Bis. A Bordeaux-based graphic designer, Jack also maintains a vigourous involvement in various aspects of visual culture, which seems to have influenced his energetic SMeltery typefaces in an intriguing way.

Typonine

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Typonine’s homepage devotes a lot of space to new faces such as the elegant, high-contrast Marlene. Shown bottom is a spectacular selection of typographic posters from Tipoplakat of which Nikola Djurek is a member. Imagery used with kind permission of © Typonine.

Typonine is a digital type foundry and graphic design studio based in Croatia and The Netherlands. It is run by graphic and type designer Nikola Djurek who founded Typonine in 2005. Their fonts have a precision, tension and elegance about them which would make them a good choice for discerning clients. The Playground page of their website is a mischievous patch dedicated to type experiments and projects, and through Tipoplakat, customers can order from a collection of stunning typographic posters designed by Djurek and his close associates.

Summary

Unobtrusive in their way, type foundries have made the transition from Old Trade to the digital age with élan and are a vital pillar of the modern design profession, indispensable to studios and those clients willing to commission bespoke fonts. But they should also become indispensable to students and fledglings, for even if unable to afford some of the fonts, it pays to be aware of things at the top end of the profession, and the services, guidance and free downloads make foundries an invaluable resource. You might be so convinced of a font’s appropriateness for a particular job that it’s possible to argue a client into parting with the funds for it. So captivated by the ligatures of a typeface that the 70 pounds/dollars/euros you had set aside for a big night out you instead divert for its purchase. Unrealistic? Maybe, but you live in hope!

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