About this font family
Roller Poster is named after Alfred Roller. In 1902, Roller created a poster to advertise the 16th exhibit of Austrian Artists and Sculptures Association, representing the Vienna Secession movement. The exhibit was to take place in Vienna during January & February 1903. The location is not mentioned because everyone in Vienna knew it would be held at the exhibit hall in the Secession Building at Friedrichstraþe 12, a few blocks south of the Opernring, near the Naschmarkt. Designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich in 1897, the buiilding has been restored and stands today as one finest of the many fine examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Vienna (see vienna_secession_bldg.jpg). Because of its dome, it is called “the golden cabbage.” The poster itself is unique. The word “secession” is in one type style and takes up two-thirds of the elongated poster. At the bottom of the poster are the details in a different lettering style. It is this second style at the bottom that is the basis for the font Roller Poster. In keeping with our regular naming conventions, we were going to call it Roller Gezeichnete (hand-drawn), but the wonderful play on both words and the shape of the three S’s in secession was too compelling. More…
In November 1965 there was an exhibit of Jugendstil and Expressionist art at the University of California. Alfred Roller’s Secession Poster was part of that exhibit. Wes Wilson was designing promotional material at Contact Printing in San Francisco. Among their clients was a rock promoter named Bill Graham, staging dance-concerts at Fillmore Auditorium. Wilson saw the catalog from the UC exhibit and Roller’s lettering. Wilson adapted Roller’s letter forms to his own fluid style. The result was the poster for the August 12-13, 1966 Jefferson Airplane/Grateful Dead concert at Fillmore put on by Graham (BG23-1). Wilson continued to use Roller’s letter forms on most of the posters he did for Graham through May 1967, when he stopped working for Graham. The posters were extremely successful and the lettering style along with Roller’s letter forms were picked up by other artists, including Bonnie MacLean, Clifford Charles Seeley, James Gardner, and others. The Secession poster and the Fillmore posters have inspired a number of fonts in addition to ours. Among them are JONAH BLACK (& WHITE) by Rececca Alaccari, LOVE SOLID by Leslie Carbarga and MOJO by Jim Parkinson. Each is different and yet each clearly shows its bloodlines. Our font differs in two ways: 1) the general differences in the interpretation of the letter forms and 2) the modification of the basic letter form to incorporate the diacriticals within the implied frame of the letter, after the manner of the original design by Roller. We borrowed Carbarga’s solution to the slashed O and used it, in a modified form, for other characters as well to accomplish the same purpose. We recommend that you buy ours and at least one of the other three. According to Alaccari, a version called URBAN was released by Franklin Lettering in the 70’s (and is shown on page 51 of The Solotype Catalog). For comparison of our font to original design, see image files roller_poster_2s.jpg of original poster and roller_poster_2sx.jpg showing reconstruction using our font for the lower portion (recontructed area indicated by blue bar).
Please note the consistency of character width. In the lower case, 23 of the basic 26 letters are 1/2 EM Square wide. The ‘i’ is an eighth narrower, while the ‘m’& ‘w’ are one quarter wider. All the Upper Case letters are 1/8 EM wider than the lower case. This is to make it easier to fill a geometrical shape like a rectangle, allowing you to capture a little of the flavor of Wes Wilson’s Fillmore West poster using only a word processor. We have also included a number of shapes for use as spacers and endcaps. If you have a drawing program that allows you to edit an ‘envelope’ around the letters to distort their shape, you can really get creative. I used Corel Draw for the gallary images, but there are other programs that can accomplish the same thing. The image file “roller_poster_keys.jpg” shows the complete character set with the keystrokes required for each character (see “HiH_Font_readme.txt” for instruction on inserting the non-keyboard characters). The file “roller_poster_widths.jpg” shows the exact width of each character in EM units (based on 1000 units per EM square).
You will notice that the font is set wide for readability. However, most programs will allow you to tighten up on the character spacing after the manner of Roller & Wilson. In MS Word, for example, go to the FORMAT menu > FONT > CHARACTER SPACING. Go to the second Drop-Down Menu, labeled ‘Spacing’ and select "condensed' and then set the amount that you want to condense ‘by’ (key on the little arrows); two points (2.0) is a godd place to start. Let your motto be EXPLORE & EXPERIMENT.
Art Nouveau has always been one of my favorite movements in art -- I grew up in a home with a couple of Mucha prints hanging on the living room wall. Perhaps because of that and because I lived through the sixties, I have enjoyed researching and designing this font more than any other I have worked on. Let’s face it (pardon the pun), Roller Poster is a FUN font. You owe it to yourself to have fun using it.