One downside of being a font-designing typography dude is that I no longer get to use fonts by other designers. But I see fonts I like all the time, and wish I could. (Maybe it’s time to adopt a pseudonym for these activities.) In no special order, here are a few favorites I wish were used more often:
I mentioned this one in my introduction to Heliotrope. Unlike me, Lance Hidy knows what he’s doing with a pen. Penumbra is based on lettering Hidy developed in his work as a poster designer. AFAIK this was Hidy’s only font family, which was originally developed to take advantage of Adobe’s cursed Multiple Master technology in the 1990s. The technology died, and unfortunately awareness of this marvelous titling face went with it.
Stone trained as a calligrapher. He later became Adobe’s director of typography during the 1980s, their most consequential years as a type-development company. (These days, Adobe makes more money from digital-marketing tools.) Slab serifs can often go wrong—by being goony or boring—but Silica is smooth, punchy and organic.
John is arguably the best sign painter in America. Over the years he’s also made a series of fonts that have always been technically accomplished while also being full of energy and unusual details. Vendetta is an angular yet delicate interpretation of one of the oldest text faces, designed by Nicolas Jenson in Venice in 1470.
Among sans serifs, very unusual because the weight of the characters is distributed more in the horizontal direction than the vertical. This category of “reversed stress” faces is small to begin with. But pulling it off with such subtlety and credibility is very rare.
I love pretty much everything Zuzana has ever done. Which is a lot! What I particularly like about Base 9 is that she started with a strict constraint—take a 9-point bitmap font and wrap outlines around it—and turned it into something delightful and fluid, whereas a typical designer would have made it dreary and mechanical. She has a wonderful eye and impeccable taste, which she has latterly deployed in the realm of ceramics and textiles.
This is a face I’ve seen often while traveling in Europe; in the US, never. I’d suppose that’s because US designers resist the idea that fonts for body text can (and IMO should) be dark and punchy. Smeijers has designed a ton of beautiful fonts—I used his Quadraat Sans in the first edition of Typography for Lawyers—but Arnhem is a fantastic balance of practical and flavorful. Something I try to achieve in my own work.