Fonts I wish were used more

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:

Penumbra by Lance Hidy

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.

Silica by Sumner Stone

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.

Vendetta by John Downer

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.

Balance by Evert Bloemsma

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.

Base 9 by Zuzana Licko

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.

Arnhem by Fred Smeijers

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.