The 'Rising Stars' banner font is Hopeless Heart

the MyFonts newsletter of features and fonts - Jan. ’07 (issue 34)

This font is LTC Jacobean Initials

n this month’s Rising Stars, we feature both grunge poster fonts and elegant scripts. In Know Your Type Designer, you’ll meet Jeff Levine, who designs an eclectic mix of stencil fonts, fonts based on rubber stamp printing sets, cut-out showcard display letters, ceramic movie titling type, and other original designs.
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bulletIN THIS ISSUE: Four Rising Stars, Know Your Type Designer, Follow-Up, Have Your Say

Four Rising Stars
Every month we add new, innovative fonts and sign up new foundries. In this 34th issue of Rising Stars, we want to show you 4 of our top-selling new fonts.

Mehriban
Mehriban is a deconstructed revival developed from the designer’s previous work: Formasi and Disjecta. Formasi characters were morphed with their Disjecta counterparts, resulting in a grunge font with its own unique swagger.


Ultinoid
Ultinoid is a fun, blocky, “damaged,” 3D font that works best at large sizes. We like its slightly messed up appearance, which gives the design a comic flair.

Contempo Elan
Contempo Elan is a new script that comes in two flavors. Contempo Elan Grand Script is an elegant, hip alternative to a more traditional formal script. Contempo Elan Ornamental is a fun calligraphic script, perfect for any announcement that requires a classy, celebratory typeface design.

Fete
Fete is a format script that works well for invitations and projects requiring a little bit of elegance. It comes in two weights, Regular and Super. The challenge for the designer was to see if he could apply a common design element across all capitals to create a uniform appearance. We think Fete is a smashing success!



Fete


Mehriban
Ultinoid
Contempo Elan
Fete

Album
Find, try, buy this month’s Rising Stars


Know Your Type Designer
Jeff Levine
Jeff Levine

Jeff Levine fonts come, naturally enough, from Jeff Levine himself — a Miami designer who´s been in love with letters since the third grade, when a schoolmate brought a lettering stencil into class. He has worked in both the graphics and music industries, and began his work with digital type via his own site. Although these fonts were experimental at best, Jeff received ‘thank you’ letters from points all over the world for making his designs available. Encouraged by these responses and through the urging of fellow designers, Jeff decided to set his sights on creating interesting and commercially viable fonts. In 2006, he started offering his fonts on MyFonts.

Sporting Life
Stylor
Rockaway
Groovy Happening

Jeff just released Sporting Life, currently #6 on our Starlets page. Sporting Life scores when you need lettering for sports themes. Sis-Boom-Bah!

Inspired by various designs of the past, Stylor is Jeff’s personal take on a classy form of art deco lettering. Because of its clean legible look, Stylor is useful for both text and display work. It is another new release that you can find on our Starlets page.

Jeff must be keeping himself busy, because his new font Rockaway is also climbing up our Starlets chart. Rockaway is a big, friendly sans serif that can add a human touch to your projects without seeming too informal.

Other Jeff Levine releases include:

  • Groovy Happening, a hip 1960s´ inspired curly typeface
  • Doowop, a fun and playful font with a decidedly ´50s flair

We interviewed Jeff about his background as well as his take on all things typographic.


Jeff, please tell us a little about your background and experience.
I’m a bit of an old-style seat-of-the-pants graphic artist. By this I mean that I have no formal training, I’ve been blessed with a little bit of natural talent and am basically a hands-on learner. I was always a doodler... even getting into trouble in school for drawing during class time. Typical of most artist-types, I bounced around over the years from various and sundry jobs and through unemployment periods... mostly because I hadn’t found my niche. Always having a fondness for graphics and printing (which had mostly been my hobby rather than a chosen vocation), I eventually landed a job at a gun and tackle distributor where I learned the basics of the paste-up trade... layouts with Rapidograph pens, hot wax machines, clip art and stat camera operation.

How did you get started in font design?
My foray into type design began way back in elementary school in the early 1960s, when a fellow student brought a Stenso Lettering Guide into class. I immediately was taken with the ability to trace an outline and produce fancy letters, and started voraciously collecting all of the stencils I could find. I eventually discovered other forms of alphabet creation, including water-applied decals, gummed letters and rubber stamp printing sets.

Simply put, I was hooked. Here it is, some forty-odd years later and many of my designs are modeled after many of those original items (which I’ve been fortunate enough to locate) as my personal valentine to their influence on me.

I hadn’t really given any thought about designing my own digital fonts until I contacted Larabie Fonts and Typodermic’s owner, Ray Larabie, some years back to chat about some of his designs. One thing led to another in our e-mail exchanges, and he kept suggesting that I try my hand at font design.

However, my first text font came about in a roundabout way. I was working at a local record label and recording studio co-owned by former singer Steve Alaimo, who had co-hosted Dick Clark’s 1960s after-school music TV show “Where the Action Is.” Steve had a ring binder with some 8x10 souvenir photos from the show, and in the first page protector of the album was a fun, 60s’ era typeface I knew would make a great freeware font (at that time I wanted to make something to “give back” to the the web community that offered so many free goodies).

I traced the existing letters and created the rest on my own... but I had no way to turn this art into a digital font. At that time I was chatting with a number of type designers online, and I mentioned my idea to Brad Nelson of Brain Eaters Fonts. He offered to create the font if I’d send him my sketches, and so was born “Action Is,” one of the most popular freeware downloads on the web. We shared the copyright on that release, but people kept telling me, “It needs a lower case,” so years later, armed with Fontographer and CorelDRAW and with Brad’s blessing I reworked the font into Groovy Happening JNL... still a popular design to this day.

You grew up in Brooklyn. Your fonts have an in-your-face quality but we don’t mean that in an intimidating sense. Big and friendly, like your Rockaway, Doowop, and Mrs. Shmelding typefaces. How much of your designs are a reflection of your personality?
Some might say that describes my personality to a “T,” but like everyone, we tend to adapt to our mood and environment at any given time. My strength lies in designing (mostly) display type, where a wide variety of styles and designs reflect a certain period or look.

How do you decide on the kind of typeface design you want to develop? Can you tell us the process you go through in designing a font?
What usually inspires me is a typeface created for a project years ago... such as movie titles, packaging, print ads and even the old lettering devices I mentioned earlier. Many of these type designs were forgotten and were either hand lettered for a specific job or a font design that never made the transition to digital media until I chose to re-draw it.

Occasionally, I do my own take on a past favorite... but for the most part my designs are either purely original or those lost typefaces.

I must take a moment and once again bring up Ray Larabie. He’s been my font mentor. I once mentioned to Ray that I can create font designs and even get them into Fontographer, but had little patience for the time-consuming job of spacing and kerning issues. He pushed me to go ahead and make my designs, send them to him and he would handle the fine tuning as well as converting them to Open Type and Postscript for Mac. He insisted that I join up with MyFonts — a decision that I’ve enjoyed since day one. We’ve become friends not just professionally, but personally, and if I didn’t take a moment to publicly thank him, I would be remiss.

What typeface designs are you working on now? When can we expect to see them at MyFonts?
Gee, there’s a bunch... a couple more stencil fonts (always paying homage to those old stencils), other fonts based on rubber stamp printing sets, cut-out showcard display letters, ceramic movie titling type, lettering found in an old movie, and some original designs. Look for Aisle Seats, Penmanshift, Willoughby, Hand Stamped, and Printing Set.

What’s your favorite typeface, and why?
My favorite typeface is an old, old serif font called DeVinne. It has very unusual stroke weights and character shapes, and has worked well both in paragraph text and as a display face. There have been various reworkings of the design over the years, but up to this moment, none can compare to the original design’s charm.

What font do you never, ever want to see used again?
Park Avenue, Helvetica, Times New Roman... All over-used ad nauseum... and Park Avenue (in my opinion) is probably the ugliest script type face ever created. To me, it makes my worst fonts look like works of fine art!

Do you work full-time as a font designer?
At this point in time, yes. A sad reality of getting older in the 21st century is that we become less marketable to the outside work force. Type design was my saving grace, for the alternative was ongoing unemployment and financial problems.

A high compliment to any type designer is to have one of his creations chosen by someone for a project. Make no mistake about it... when your font is chosen at that particular time, something about your design was considered unique to another designer’s concept, and your font beat out all of the competition.

When I see sales from many parts of the globe, I’m humbled at how one person’s work has traveled so far to be put to use. It makes me wonder why I didn’t do this years ago!

Thanks, Jeff! We look forward to seeing your new typeface designs soon!

Album
Find, try, buy Jeff’s fonts


Follow-Up

Last month we featured Joanne Script as one of our four Rising Stars. Currently #34 on the MyFonts Best Sellers list, Joanne Script is an informal handwriting design. This fun font has a sharp, angular feel, which lends itself to casual messages, greeting cards, post-its, journals, you name it!

Joanne Script


Joanne Script

A fun and casual design, Joanne Script includes a large complement of international characters, allowing you to send your thoughts in multiple languages

If you like this font from BluHead Studio, be sure to check out these other popular releases:

Design CW
Sally Script
Marianna
Design CW
Sally Script
Marianna

Album
Find, try, buy this month’s Follow-Up fonts


Have Your Say
“Wow! What an amazing site! After wasting an hour trying to find a specific font I came across a link to your website and soon found WhatTheFont. Just in time to save me uttering a similar but less savoury statement. In mere minutes I had a selection of near matches, the second of which was identical. Thanks! This is pure genius!”
— Jacqui from New Zealand, January 1st 2007

Click here to see comments from others and to add your own. We’re always interested in your opinion.


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Fonts used in this newsletter include: Hopeless Heart, LTC Jacobean Initials, Mehriban, Ultinoid, Contempo Elan, Fete, Sporting Life, Stylor, Rockaway, Groovy Happening, Joanne Script, Design CW, Sally Script, and Marianna.

Albums: Four Rising Stars, Know Your Type Designer, Follow-Up

MyFonts and MyFonts.com are registered service marks and Rising Stars, Starlets, and WhatTheFont are service marks of MyFonts.com, Inc. Other technologies, font names, and brand names are used for information only and remain trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.