Plywood is based on a long lost American film classic: Franklin Typefounders’s Barker Flare from the early 1970s.
Helvetica’s 50-year anniversary celebrations in 2007 were overwhelming and contagious. We saw the movie. Twice. We bought the shirts and the buttons. We dug out the homage books and re-read the hate articles. We mourned the fading non-color of an old black shirt proudly exclaiming that “HELVETICA IS NOT AN ADOBE FONT”. We took part in long conversations discussing the merits of the Swiss classic, that most sacred of typographic dreamboats, outlasting its builder and tenants to go on alone and saturate the world with the fundamental truth of its perfect logarithm. We swooned again over its subtleties (“Ah, that mermaid of an R!”). We rehashed decades-old debates about “Hakzidenz,” “improvement in mind” and “less is more.” We dutifully cursed every single one of Helvetica’s knockoffs. We breathed deeply and closed our eyes on perfect Shakti Gawain-style visualizations of David Carson hack'n'slashing Arial — using a Swiss Army knife, no less — with all the infernal post-brutality of his creative disturbance and disturbed creativity. We then sailed without hesitation into the absurdities of analyzing Helvetica’s role in globalization and upcoming world blandness (China beware! Helvetica will invade you as silently and transparently as a sheet of rice paper!). And at the end of a perfect celebratory day, we positively affirmed √ la Shakti, and solemnly whispered the energy of our affirmation unto the universal mind: “We appreciate Helvetica for getting us this far. We are now ready for release and await the arrival of the next head snatcher.”
Over the past few years, every designer has seen the surprising outbreak of blackletter types in marketing campaigns for major sports clothing manufacturers, a few phone companies, soft drink makers, and more recently on entertainment and music products. In such campaigns, blackletter type combined with photos of usual daily activity simply adds a level of strength and mystique to things we see and do on a regular basis.
Lionheart is the digitization and expansion of Saladin, a neo-gothic typeface designed by Friedrich Poppl, long after he established himself as one of the greatest German designers of all time with some of the most “ausgezeichnet” scripts and text faces to ever come out of Europe. This typeface, though lesser-known among Poppl’s other masterpieces, was one of the first in its genre to abandon blackletter influence and attempt letter variations based strictly on Roman alphabet shapes. Poppl’s idea spawned a whole generation of neo-gothics that can now be found on many a movie poster or book cover where the design must hint at secrets and dark sides.