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his month’s Rising Stars are a diverse and unpredictable bunch, and we’re proud of that. It shows that type is alive. It also indicates that, whatever the effect you want to achieve with your graphic designs, MyFonts probably offers the font that is just right for the job.
Plumage is one of the liveliest scripts that have come out recently. By George Titling is an amazing movie title font (of the silent kind). And then there are two faces from Holland, as wide apart as Dutch fonts can possibly be. Fancy Pens is a script that seems to have been written with two pens at once; Dutch Mediaeval is the first serious digitization of a great classic from 1912. Also, check out our revealing interview with Professor Brian J. Bonislawsky – the mysterious Mr. Astigma.
Among the many well-made script faces that have come out recently, Plumage is special. It is a passionate homage to the quill, our forefathers’ writing tool. Robbie de Villiers made a font that has elements of calligraphy as well as informal script, with interesting stroke terminals that lend a unique energy to the typeface. He also did some interesting research. For instance: did you know that when making quills from goose feathers, pens for right-handed writers come from the left wing, and pens for left-handers, from the right? Read the designer’s notes for these and other amazing facts about feathers and pens.
With his work for the Amsterdam Typefoundry, designer Sjoerd H. de Roos heralded a new age in Dutch typography. When Dutch Mediaeval was released in 1912, it was the first original Dutch text face to come out in over a century. The face never received a worthy digital treatment until now. Designer-researcher Hans van Maanen has produced an exemplary revival, turning Dutch Mediaeval into a more versatile typeface than it has ever been before. The gorgeous Ornaments fonts is included with all packages as a free bonus.
JoeBob is a Dutch illustrator and painter, and the maker of a series of highly idiosyncratic fonts based on handwriting. Recently, his fancyPens has been a cult hit on the MyFonts Starlets list. It has been described as “an erratic, inconsistent and loose free-style calligraphy font”, for which the designer used several pens in several ways. If you like your scripts slightly messy, fancyPens is the way to go.
By George Titling is based on an alphabet originally drawn for title cards in silent movies. Nick Curtis of Nick’s Fonts found it in the 13th edition of Ross F. George’s Speedball Text Book from 1938. For non-Americans: Speedball is a brand of pens used for making line drawings and constructed alphabets – rather like the famous Redis pens in Europe. Speedballs are unique tools for creating sharp detail, and there’s plenty of that in By George. Its letterforms are crisp, wide and quirky; its capitals feature subtle diamonds in the verticals that add just the right touch of sparkle.
He is sometimes referred to as “Astigma” or “Prof. Bonislawsky.” He is the heart and soul of Astigmatic One Eye Typographic Institute, a microfoundry with maximum output. His font styles range from retro-futurist streamline via the hand-painted and the hard-rocking, to cool, clean digitech. Between Astigmatic and the Breaking the Norm project (more about that later), he has over a hundred font families on MyFonts. He is a real person living and working in Las Vegas. And he has loved and lived typography and lettering ever since his father gave him a Speedball lettering booklet.
On the Astigmatic website there is a compelling account of the Bonislawsky family history and the foundry’s Central-European roots. Something tells me that story is a clever mixture of fact and fiction. Would you mind telling our audience how you really got into type?
The fantastic nature of the Astigmatic roots is definitely a mixture of fact and fiction, weaving in numerous personal interests I hope to incorporate into my designs as time goes forward.
How I really got into type is quite simple. My father gave me a 1973 Speedball Lettering booklet when I was in fourth grade and I’ve been lettering in one way or another ever since. I just eventually found a way to make my hobby into a living.
Are you astigmatic? How many eyes have you got?
Yes, I am astigmatic. Early on it was just my left eye, but now in both eyes. I only have two eyes though, unless you count my mystic third eye.
You sometimes use your ‘Professor’ title. Is that: professor of Fontology?
A self-proclaimed professor of Fontology & Typographic Engineering, indeed. When I started, sharing information or schooling on how to make fonts really didn’t exist. You had to figure it all out as you went along. To a degree, that is still the case today.
I’ve been lucky to connect with various individuals and share knowledge over the years to improve my own skill and proficiency, and I’ve tried to help young designers starting out in the same manner. I love to pass on knowledge and help others when I can, and so came the title.
When I first started out, I was labeled the Darth Vader of type, or the grunge fonts guy, and I wanted to break out of any labeling as soon as I got it. Ever since, I’ve been trying to cover every genre of typestyle out there, and I’ve still a lot left to do. I wouldn’t call myself a master of any style, just well rounded in a lot of styles. Would that be a Jack of all Types, so to speak?
Among your own fonts, which are your favorites? Which were the most fun, or the most rewarding, to work on?
Among his own fonts, Quick Handle is one of Brian's personal favorites.
My favorites would be the Digital Disco Family, MoTenacity, Manic Tambourine, and Quick Handle. Typefaces like Manic Tambourine, Mother Hen, Tapehead and other offbeat styles were definitely the most fun to put together. Fonts like Quick Handle, Library Report, and Digital Disco were the first typestyles I made in those genres, which made them the most rewarding for me personally in moving forward.
What are the main sources of inspiration for your typefaces? Have you got a large collection of old magazines, photos of lettering, etc?
Inspiration is easy. It’s all around us. I find myself influenced not only by visual resources like old magazines, lettering books, and movie posters, but also by more abstract influences like song lyrics, movies, and strange word combinations. I currently have a ridiculously large specimen resource library which would last me the rest of my life if I stopped collecting today, but I will still collect more books, shoot more photos, and continue to expand on my reference library. I’m always looking for opportunities to work with other designers collaboratively to try and make as many of these specimens into digital reality as is humanly possible.
Who are your heroes in typography?
My heroes would be both fellow type designers I’ve worked with closely, and some with whom I have only had limited contacts, but who have inspired me through their designs, work ethic, and personalities.
Some designers I’ve worked more closely with are: Stuart Sandler (Font Diner), Jim Lyles (Bitstream), Mark Simonson, Rich Kegler (P22), Brian Jaramillo (VersusTwin / Foundry X), Eduardo Recife (MisprintedType), and Jess Latham (BlueVinyl). Others that I’ve had more limited connections with are: Matthew Carter, John Downer, Ilene Strizver, and Jill Bell – to name a few.
Text type families are definitely in my list of goals and genres to journey into, along with more scripts and historical revivals. I have made some basic text families already through the Breaking The Norm project such as Revelation, Register Sans, Register Serif, and Unknown Caller, but I would definitely like to expand into more refined text styles.
Could you tell us a little more about the Breaking The Norm project and your collaboration with Stuart Sandler?
Stuart Sandler of the Font Diner and I have been collaborating on various font projects and other side ventures like the Machine Wash Image Filters for almost 8 years now. Working together on Breaking The Norm was just another extension of that. We worked together with Bitstream on this project, for which we each created 250 fonts, a total of 500 fonts, within a 3-month period. It was a lot of long days, sleepless nights, and intense work, but it was also great to work so tightly with Bitstream and get this incredible range of typefaces available to the general public for such a great price. This project not only challenged us, but helped us improve our skills and proficiency.
Finally, do you have any message for our readers?
To the font buying public, thank you for supporting not only myself, but type designers in general, because without you, we wouldn’t have our bizarre yet wonderful careers as alphabeticians. I look forward to inspiring and facilitating your designs with typefaces I will create far into the future.
Thank you Brian! We look forward to seeing many more of your fonts in the future!
April interview: correction
Copying and pasting can be hazardous practice. In using the March edition of Rising Stars as a template to create the April edition, the first paragraph from an old interview managed to avoid being removed. So you were very right if you frowned when you read that our April interviewee, Bob Alonso, who started his career in 1964, did an internship in 2003! The intern was in fact Rebecca Alaccari, the subject of our March interview. Apologies to all.
Chunky Meloriac, with Japanese Katakana characters for putting some J-pop flair into your designs.
Meloriac by Ray Larabie of Vancouver, Canada, has been one of our best selling fonts since it came out in early March. It’s a pretty straightforward Ultra Black all-caps face – until you need to use the E (and who doesn’t?). Then it suddenly becomes something really special: a streetwise, heavy-duty unicase headline font. Those who bought the font during the first two months have already received an invitation to download an update, free of charge, with a few refinements; needless to say, all new buyers receive the improved version!
If you like this typeface from Typodermic, check out some of their other fonts:
Cutiful. A warm, friendly, button-cute script. Depending on your choice of color, it’s ideal for packaging fruit yoghurt, romantic novels or tissues.
Meposa. A mutated mélange of 70s custom van culture, historical wood type and retro-tech, Meposa OpenType offers an enormous selection of ligatures and custom pairs. Bold is better. Put your stamp on the future with Meposa.
Korataki. A tribute to that 1970s futuristic classic, China (also known as Chimes). Keywords: audio, computer, fast, futuristic, geometric, japanese, modern, robot, square, techno. Alternates are included for A, G, Q and 4.
—Mindy Sommers from Color Bakery in Poultney, Vermont
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