About Steagal Font Family
I love geometric sans serifs, their crispness and rationality. Le Havre taps into this style, but for a while, I've wanted to create a font recalling the printed Futura of the 1940s, which seems to have an elusive quality all its own. After seeing an old manual on a World War II ship, I developed a plan for "Le Havre Metal" but chose to shelve the project due to Le Havre's small x-height. That's where Steagal comes in.
When Robbie de Villiers and I began the Chatype project in early 2012 (a project which led one publication to label me the Edward Johnston of Chattanooga!), we started closely studying the vernacular lettering of Chattanooga. During that time, I also visited Switzerland, where I saw how designers were using a new, handmade aesthetic with a geometric base. I was motivated to make a new face combining some of these same influences. The primary inspiration for the new design came from the hand-lettering of sign painters in the United States, circa 1930s through 1950s. My Chatype research turned up a poster from the Tennessee Valley Authority in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which exhibited a number of quirks from the unique hand and style of one of these sign artists.
Completing the first draft of Steagal, however, I found that the face appeared somewhat European in character. I turned then to the work of Morris Fuller Benton for a distinctly American take and discovered a number of features that would help define Steagal as a "1930s American" vernacular typeface--features I later learned also inspired Morris Fuller Benton's Eagle. The overall development of Steagal was surprisingly difficult, knowing when to deliberately distort optical artifacts and when to keep them in place. Part of type design is correcting optical illusions, and I found myself absentmindedly adjusting the optical effects. In the end, though, I was able to draw inspiration from period signs, inscriptions, period posters, and architecture while retaining just enough of the naive sensibility.
Steagal has softened edges, which simulate brush strokes and retain the feeling of the human hand. The standard version has unique quirks that are not too intrusive. Overshoots have almost been eliminated, and joins have minimal corrections. The rounded forms are mathematically perfect, geometric figures without optical corrections. As a variation to the standard, the “Rough” version stands as the "bad signpainter" version with plenty of character.
Steagal Regular comes in five weights and is packed with OpenType features. Steagal includes three Art Deco Alternate sets, optically compensated rounded forms, a monospaced variant, and numerous other features. In all, there are over 200 alternate characters. To see these features in action, please see the informative .pdf brochure. OpenType capable applications such as Quark or the Adobe Creative suite can take full advantage of the automatically replacing ligatures and alternates. Steagal also includes support for all Western European languages.
Steagal is a great way to subtly draw attention to your work. Its unique quirks grab the eye with a authority that few typefaces possess. Embrace its vernacular, hand-brushed look, and see what this geometric sans serif can do for you.
“Type is very much like music,” says Jeremy Dooley. “It is linear, and the notes or phrases have to fit the theme or song.” Jeremy, owner of the one-man foundry, insigne, is a self-taught type designer and a true self-made success story.
His label is home to over a hundred font families, many of which have seen great success. Aviano has made our Best of the Year list not just once, but twice and has been featured in Hollywood blockbusters. You may have noticed various iterations of Aviano in Wall Street, Harry Potter, and Thor, and it was used for the branding of Robin Hood.
Jeremy considers type to be the foundation of advanced visual communication. One form of communication that the Chattanooga-based designer is drawn to is branding. In 2011, Jeremy, took on the enormous project of coming up with a typeface that would communicate the tone and feeling of his hometown; a font that would effectively brand the city. In 2013, the result, Chatype, was named the official typeface of Chattanooga TN. “Every city needs a brand,” he says, “as every city needs to highlight its own distinctive offerings.”
Like many designers, his creations are often the result of his interests. “I especially like seeing my typefaces in movies, on luxury packaging, and for technology companies,” he says. “These are interests of mine, and I often design fonts with those specific applications in mind. It’s very interesting to me that I frequently see fonts used in exactly the way I originally envisioned.”
Since he began selling his first font on MyFonts in 2004, the man who will tell anyone who asks, “I’m not really from anywhere,” has continuously drawn inspiration from his many experiences gained from living all over the globe.
Want more of Jeremy? The designer sat down with us for an in-depth interview in this issue of Creative Characters.