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Category Archives: sans serif

Designed by Harmann Zapf in the mid 1950’s in Germany. Optima is classified as a “Sans-Serif” but it has a slight smelling near thr terminals of easch character giving it a slight serif feel. The italic form is more an oblique then an italic. The capital letters seem based on traditional Roman models, just like many serif faces.

McCain’s Optimum Look

Can a typeface truly represent a presidential candidate? It depends on the typeface and the candidate. John McCain’s printed material relies on Optima, a modernistic sans serif designed by the German type designer Hermann Zapf in 1958 that was popular among book and magazine designers during the 1970s.

“Optima is one of the worst pre-computer typefaces ever designed. It was created to satisfy everybody’s needs. A straightforward, no-nonsense, no-embellishment face, it comes in regular and bold but little character can be found in either weight.

Optima is not inappropriate for use by Senator McCain.” -Seymour Chwast

“The moment of typographic truth will come when Senator McCain picks a vice presidential running mate and two names have to be combined on banners and bumper stickers. By choosing Optima, a rather distinctive typeface, he may have seriously limited his options.

I set the possible names in a bold weight of Optima caps and certain things became clear. HUCKABEE looks awkward in Optima, and ROMNEY is afflicted with the same difficult ‘EY’ combination that has plagued the current vice presidency. Perhaps because Optima is a German typeface, the word SCHWARZENEGGER looks predictably good.

Although it’s German, Optima took its inspiration from Quattrocento inscriptional lettering in the cathedrals of Florence and Siena, which may explain why GIULIANI looks so simpatico. In the end, however, my research suggests that the optimal running mate — so long as you don’t have to typeset her first name — is RICE.” Matthew Carter


The mets family features a serif and a sans serif, officially called ff meta sans and ff meta serif. The sans was designed by Spiekerman in the 90’s. Meta is a very popular and well known sans serif face, small intricate make it a very interesting face.

After much love for the sans, he attempted the serif.

3 years and help from Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby he accomplished the goal of a serif counterpart.

The 2 are made to compliment each other. One could easily use the 2 face at the same size in the same line without problem.

This write up is really half assed and not giving meta the praise it truly deserves.

Serif and sans

René Albert Chalet is the typographic (and fashion) genius behind hit self titled typeface. House Industries (foundry who released chalet) considers him “he most underappreciated yet arguably greatest typeface designers in history.”

Although he never fully received the recognition he deserved, René Chalet was better known in fashion circles for his contributions to developing the prêt-à-porter clothing market of the 1960s and ’70s. His bold departure from the Haute Couture establishment helped to build the commercial model around which the present fashion industry is structured. In fact, the Swiss-born designer embodied the very same daring and adventuresome attitudes he brought into vogue during those explosive decades.(house ind)

serif: none
Usage: Chalet felt this typeface was good for display. Functional type, with flair.
characteristics: geometrical and humanist. There are many variations of each letterform. for example there is a single and two storey a.

René’s work has not been resurrected from the pages of fashion history simply for empty nostalgic reflection. With the release of the CHALET type collection, House Industries hopes to finally bring recognition to the fashion and font legacy of René Albert Chalet.(house ind)

(note: René Albert Chalet only exists in the minds of those at House Industries he was created to help market the typeface.)

Frere-jones designed Interstane from 1993-4. He used the familiarity of the highway signs to create a very legible sans serif. This family includes 40 fonts in 3 widths and 7 weights.

Serif: sans
Classifications: neo-grotesque.
Characteristics: terminals of the ascenders and descenders are cut at a 45 degree angle, open counters, curved strokes have a terminal at 45 from the baseline.
Usage: the legibility and amount of weights/styles of this font make it a good choice for display or text.

Frere-Jones designed this while at Font Bureau. He currently works with Johnathan Hoefler at their type foundry, Hoefler & Frere-Jones.

Peter Biľak was Born in the Czech republic, went to school in England, the US and France, and ended up in the netherlands. He does work in type, editorial, graphic and web design. He also is a teacher at the Royal Academy in The Hague. Biľak started Typotheque in 1999.

Fedra was commissioned by Paris-based Ruedi Baur Integral Design and developed as a corporate font for Bayerische Rück, a German insurance company, as part of their new identity. The objective was to “de-protestantize Univers.”

Bayerische was acquired by a larger company, ending the production of Fedra. However since a lot of the work had been done, Biľak decided to finish the typeface, including more weights and expert fonts.

Unfortnatly, about 3 months before the release of Fedra, Biľak’s studio was broken into and he lost all of the work. This became beneficial to the typeface becasue it gave him time to rethink some of his design decisions with the original (he still had his sketches.)

The typeface reflects the original brief “it humanises the communicated message and adds simple, informal elegance”. It attempts to reconcile two opposing design approaches “rigidity of a typeface designed for the computer screen and flexibility of a handwriting.”

Fedra is a multiligual font, in over 70 languages.

Fedra Sans
serif: sans
characteritics: Each weight of Fedra sans includes 4 different sets of numbers, Tabular figures, Lining figures (for use with upper case, and small caps), Old style figures, superior/ subscrupt figures (make nice fractions). Designed to work equally well on screen and on paper.

Fedra Serif
serif: serif
chacteristics: Version A: Low contrast with extremely short ascenders and descenders, worked very well at small sizes.
Version B: Higher contrast, longer ascenders and descenders, comtempory design. good for high resolution printing where its shape can be appreciated.

Lucida is an extended family of typefaces designed by the team of Charles Bigelow and Kris Holmes in 1985. There are many variations in the Lucida family.

Bigelow ans Holmes worked with a vendor to create a full set of mathematical symbols. These symbols help make Lucida one of the most complete type families.

Serif, Sans serif… blackletter, caligraphy, handwriting, Fax, Bright, Sans Unicode, Grande, Sans typewriter.
Lucida Grande has 2,245 characters. Grande is a Humanist Sans Serif.
Used: Mac OS X, Front Row, Windows’s Blue screen of Death

Xavier Dupré began sketching Vista while on vacation in Sumatra. He noticed many of the hand made signs with interesting decorative letters, slab serifs and triangular serifs. His plan was to create a semi serif typeface based on this characteristics.

Dupré had difficulties early on and stopped the creation of this typeface. After 2 years he revisited his sketches and removed the Serifs, simplifing the entire face.

Dupré feels that Vista combines a humanist and blackletter typeface.

Vista Sans
Serif: sans
Usage: text and display.
Characteristics: Vista combines curves and sharp points nicely.
The a: “…In Vista, the “a” became the most characteristic letter. It’s the soul of Vista. The “a” has a special appeal to me; when I was a student, I learned to recognize and identify fonts by observing this character.

The “a” in Vista is inspired by blackletter. I wanted to incorporate the rhythm of blackletters; big contrast, emphasis on the vertical, graphic and strong looking. I combined this with humanist shapes to make a well-working text font. So the form and the rhythm of Vista are a blend of blackletter and humanist writing.” ~Dupré

note: there is also an alternate version of Vista.

Top: vista, bottom Vista Alternate.

Neutraface is based on the architecture designed by Richard Neutra and his signage. Neutra’s designs usualy showed a connections between man and nature, biorealism (as he called it). This was accomplished with elements such as reflective pools and large floor to ceiling glass windows.

Neutraface reflects Neutra’s attention to detail and his architecture. The letterforms are open and neutral. Modern and simple. the typeface can be though if a hybrid geometric and humanist sans serif face, like Richard Neutra’s Biorealistic designs

serif: non, geometric
usage: originaly it was meant to be a display face. however, House made it into a text face as well.
characteristics: geometric, even strokes, low x height.

House Industries is located in Yorklyn Delaware.

Eric Gill was a sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker from England. He is a controversial figure because of his religious views, “relationships” with his children and dog and his erotic art.

His self titled typeface was based on Johnston Sans, the typeface used for the London Underground. which Gill worked on as Johnston’s apprentice.

Gill Sans
Serif: Humanist Sans
characteristics: Uppercase modeled after letters found of the Column of Trajan and Caslon and Baskerville. The M is based on the proportions of a perfect square, where the strokes meet at the center of the square. Less mechinal feel the futura. proportions of letters based on realist sans serifs.

Starting in Advertising, then left to start his own studio, Herb Lubalin became a designer for a series of magazines, Eros, Fact and Avante Garde. It was after the collapse of Fact that Lubalin, with Publisher Ralph Ginzberg, started Avant Garde

The Typeface was based on the Magazines logo (see above)

ITC Avante Garde
Serif: geometric sans (designs were drawn with compass and t-square)
usage: display and small amounts of copy
characteristics: Tight fitting letterforms, circles and clean lines,

After the typefaces release Lubalin realized it was being misunderstood and misused by inexperienced designers. Its overuse made it a stereotypical 1970s font.

“Avant Garde was Lubalin’s signature, and in his hands it had character; in others’ it was a flawed Futura-esque face.” ~Steven Heller