XKCD Guest Post



Baskerville is a transitional font that came about during the middle of the 18th century. John Baskerville, a man who had made a great deal of money hardening furniture and other objects through an varnishing process, once established, turned his interests to printing. J. Baskerville designed his typeface and had his employee, John Hardy, cut the punches for him. The work took several years because of Baskerville’s perfectionist behavior. He also went on to find new ways to improve upon the printing press to allow for greater precision.

Design Differences

Baskerville, the letterform, is known for its wider form and moderate stroke. It is noted that Baskerville gives a page a light gray appearance because of its form width and balance with the pages white space.

Another characteristic to point out in Baskerville is the tail of the capital ‘Q’ – it first sharply strikes to the left and then folds to the right, slightly tucking under the next letter, similar to the finish of a calligraphic capital ‘Q’. An interesting characteristic can be found in the tail of the lowercase ‘g’. Its descender does not make a fully closed loop, but tucks around itself like the tail of an animal. Additionally, the cross bar of the lowercase ‘e’ is high and the lowercase ‘j’ descender tucks to the left.

Famous Fans

Ben Franklin was an admirer of the Baskerville letterform. Being a printer himself, he could appreciate the simple and delicate lines that Baskerville offers.

Visual Study

'A Study in Q' - Shading provided by the first chapter of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Carter, Rob, Philip B. Meggs, and Ben Day. Typographic design: form and communication. 3rd ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Print.

Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to opentype: an illustrated history of type from the earliest letterforms to the latest digital fonts. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 2006. Print.

Images used with permission:



Hermann Zapf was born in Nuremberg on November 9, 1918. At ten years old, his father, active in the trade unions, was taken to Dachau when the National Socialist Party came into power and brought down the unions. Due to his father’s political record, Hermann was not able to go in to the electrical trade as he had wished. In 1934 Hermann started as an apprentice lithographic retoucher.

Inspired by seeing a Rudolf Koch calligraphy exhibition on 1935, Zapf began teaching himself calligraphy. Zapf’s new talent was noticed and through the D Stemple AG typefoundry in Frankfurt and in 1938 he designed his first typeface, a blackletter design called Gilgenart.

His love for calligraphy grew with time. Zapf went on to design several very now famous typefaces like Palatino and Optima, both of which are heavily influenced by his appreciation of calligraphy.

In 1948, Zapf designed a calligraphic script font – based on samples from his sketchbooks – call Virtuosa. He was disappointed with restrictions of designing the script font using metal plates. Zapf felt the kerning was wrong and the slant was too harsh. He intended for “exuberant flourishes” which the metal could not provide.

In 1993, with the help of another typographer, David Siegel (Tekton) and programmer Gino Lee, began digitizing Zapf’s original script concept, calling it Zapfino. Zapfino, completed in 1998, finally realized Zapf’s original concept for his calligraphic font. The Zapfino fontset includes One, Two, Three, Four, Ligatures and Ornaments, and is essentially a complete digital calligraphic kit.

Visual Study

I use Zapfino when a client is looking for an “elegant” wedding invitation design. It is a clean and whispy font that has plenty of variations to avoid repetition that comes from using digital script fonts. The only complaint that I have is that (for some clients) the weight of the font is not heavy enough (i.e., there is no ‘Zapfino Bold’). When this is an issue, I outline the font and offset it by one or two pixels (depending on the font size being used), which typically satisfies the client and doesn’t detract from the design of font.


Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to opentype: an illustrated history of type from the earliest letterforms to the latest digital fonts. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 2006. Print.

"Download Zapfino® font family - Linotype.com." Download fonts from classic to cool - Linotype.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. .

"Linotype Zapfino™ - Desktop font « MyFonts." MyFonts: Webfonts & Desktop Fonts. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. .

"Virtuosa - Font News." Download fonts from classic to cool - Linotype.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. .

"Zapfino - Fonts.com." Fonts.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. .

"Zapfino - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. .

Images used without permission:


Chunk (Five)


The reason I choose to write this post about Chunk (Five) – referred to in the rest of this post as 'CF' – is, I was working on a project for a colleague a few weeks ago and I had to download it for a design that I was given to edit. I became so enamored with the font that I decided to update my website logo using CF (see Goodarts dot Net, above). I was curious to se where CF came from and decided to spotlight the typeface in today's post.


CF is a modern, ultra-bold slab serif designed by Meredith Mandel circa 2009. Very little detail is available on CF. Meredith Mandel says on her website that she designed it to be "reminiscent of old American Western woodcuts, broadsides, and newspaper headlines". Font-A-Day notes that CF was designed for The League of Moveable Type. The League is a collaborative of designers seeking to advance the use of type and available typefaces on the web.

With the advent of the css styling @font-face – first with IE4 and Netscape 4, then revitalized with Safari 3.1 support, now all modern browsers support the @font-face technique. @font-face allows front-end designers to code in a reference to a font file that is hosted on their server, then assign that font to a css font tag (e.g., h1, h2, p, a, etc.) that will then display that font the same to all users. This was a huge leap forward in text layout for web designers.

I started using @font-face for my own projects a little over a year ago. It is very beneficial for web designers to be able to choose what font every user will see, rather than relying on system fonts to show an approximation of what the deign intended. An alternate option was to create images for each instance of that font (e.g., headers, titles, etc.) which, in turn adds increased download to a website and lends to accessibility by allowing screen readers to directly read the instances rather than rely on alt tags.

Visual Study

For today's visual study, I submit the new Goodarts dot Net logo (also at top of page) and my new Ciricullum Vitea design:


"Chunk | The League of Moveable Type." The League of Moveable Type. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. .

Cuppyhouse, Ronald. "Chunk Five | Font-A-Day." Fontaday - A new free downloadable TTF or OTF font every day!. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. .

Hermann, Ralf. "The @Font-Face Rule And Useful Web Font Tricks | Smashing Magazine." Smashing Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. .

Mandel, Meredith. "meredithmandel." meredithmandel. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. .

Images used without permission:

The Next Web: 5 Awesome Experimental Typefaces That Bring Together Tech Art Design

I found this while broswing for new design and font ideas.




Helvetica was designed by Max Miedinger, Alfred and Edouard Hoffman in the mid 1950s. The three worked for the Haas typefoundery in Munchenstein, Switzerland. Their intent was to produce a competitive, new san-serif typeface. At the time Switzerland was known for its clean, high-end design. Miedinger, the lead designer on the font project, based his first designs on Schelter Grotesk, a popular sans-serif from the late 1800s. Helvetica was originally released in 1056 under the name Neue Haas Grotesk. Neue Hass wasn't very popular in Switzerland after its release because Swiss designers were very happy using Akzidenz-Grotesk.

In 1961, Neue Haas was released by the Haas parent foundry, D Stempel AG, in Frankfurt, West Germany. The typeface was then renamed to the latin name for 'Swiss', Helvetica (the full latin name for Switzerland being 'Confoederatio Helvetica'). The reasoning behind the renaming was to encompass the world-renowned Swiss design style.

In 1983, D Stempel AG licensed Linotype Design Studio to digitize and update Helvetica for use as a digital font. At this point Helvetica became very popular, much like Times New Roman for similar reasons. Helvetica is one of those fonts that you either love or hate – much like Arial or Verdana. This tends to be because of availability of these font sets on every digital text interface; availability then leads to misuse and overuse.

Design Differences

Modern, digital Helvetica has about 19 variations (regular, condensed, compressed, rounded, roman, narrow, etc.). It can be identified from other sans-serif fonts by its very round capitals in the 'C', 'G', 'O' and 'Q'. The terminals of the 'C', 'G', 'S', 'a', 'c', 'e', and 's' are horizontal, unlike Akzidenz which have terminals closer to 45 degrees.

The Movie

In 2007, Gary Hustwit created a documentary on Helvetica, celebrating it's 50th anniversary. The documentary goes in to detail the history and uses of the typeface. The movie is very interesting for those interested in design and typography.

Watch Helvetica on Netflix Watch It Now

Visual Study


Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to opentype: an illustrated history of type from the earliest letterforms to the latest digital fonts. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 2006. Print.

"Helvetica - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2012. .

Images used without permission:


1920 / 1912 Font Books Digitized!

1910 German Font Book

1912 American Type Founders specimen book



Blackletter was born from regional handwriting types in Europe around the 15th century. Originally it was a script type mimicked by those copying books, manuscripts or other parchments. In northern Europe (Germanic regions) this script type became known as Gothic (script, miniscule) or Blackletter. Textura was the first known variant; others that followed were Schwabacher, Fraktur and Cursiva. It was from Textura that Johannes Gutenberg, also known as the father of the printing press, modeled his first movable type press letterforms.

Blackletter was the letterform of the Renaissance period. Additional variants arose like “white letter”, a more Roman style of Blackletter, but still retaining a heavily Gothic form. Blackletter is commonly associated with Germany, specifically Fraktur, which appeared on many of Germany’s flags. It was the font the was adopted early by the National Socialist party for use of their propaganda materials. Leni Riefenstahl’s pro-Nazi film, Triumph of Will, promotional materials and titles were created using Blackletter (Fraktur and Schwabacher). It was during WWII that Blackletter became recognized more as Nazi type than German type.

Current Uses

Post WWII, after the defeat of the Nazi’s, use of Blackletter in Germany quickly ended because of its association. Modern uses tend to be associated with bands like AC/DC, metal bands or motorcycle gangs.

Visual Study


"Blackletter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. .

Dodd, Robin. From Gutenberg to opentype: an illustrated history of type from the earliest letterforms to the latest digital fonts. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks, 2006. Print.

"Typography | Retinart." Retinart - Reflections on the Joyous Elegance of Graphic Design and Creative Thought. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2012. .

Images used without permission:



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