Digested on January 24, 2005
Posted by David Earls

I'm going to keep my ramblings brief this week, but a quick note about the next TypoCircle lecture at St Bride here in London. At 7pm, February 3rd 2005, Alessio Leonardi (the Italian delegate for ATypI) will be conducting a lecture with the enticing-sounding "From the Cow to the Typewriter: the (true) History of Writing". Beefy title (sorry). Alessio describes the lecture as an unconventional look at the religious and scientific perspectives on the latin alphabet's history, along with his own interpretation. The lecture culminates in a presentation of an experimental project demonstrating how it could all have been very very different. Talk about alternative truths! £15 entry for the general public, a tenner if you're a TypoCircle member or £7.50 if you're a student.

As mentioned in the last edition, Typographer.org is opening its doors to new contributors from all over the world. The first digests written by someone other than me will be published from next month, but we would still like to hear from those who would like to contribute. However, the first change to happen is the addition of our "Bald Condensed" column, written by everyone's favourite rock n roll typographer, Yves Peters. Each digest, Yves will be taking a critical look over the most recent typeface releases from around the world in the way that only a chocolate-munching beer-swilling Belgian can. Or indeed Yves.

So, without further comment, here is the man himself...

Bald Condensed
by Yves Peters

Last week, Mário Feliciano announced the release of two new type families - FTF Flama and FTF Garda Titling, both available exclusively from the designer. (Please note my judgement is based on the splash pages featured on the website, as there are no PDFs available for download.)

FTF Garda Titling is an all-capital typeface which revives the spirit of inscriptional lettering. It's a nifty little titling system, taking the Trajan cliché into less travelled territories. Number One follows the rule book pretty religiously, with serifs that have a soft, more organic quality. Number Two offers an interesting flare serif variant, and conjures up images of Parisian fashion brands and stone inscriptions on Italian villas. Number Two is halfway in between Number One and Number Three which is a sans serif, opening up even more options. There are a few nice alternates, both subtle (the alternate S) and striking (a gorgeous alternate R in Number Two and Three), as well as a (limited) number of ligatures.

When I read that FTF Flama was being described as a "neutral" sans serif, I grew a bit weary. Unlike Mário, I believe there are more than enough of those around, so he'd better have a damn good reason - and a design to match - to unleash yet another one of those on an unsuspecting crowd of goatee stroking art directors and architects. Surprisingly, when I headed to the website, it turned out to be about the most fun I ever had discovering a typeface.

What makes FTF Flama so enjoyable is that it is the typographic equivalent of a "supergroup" - you know, members of different legendary music bands form a new group. The type family wears its influences on its sleeve, but does that so well it's a delight when those influences reveal themselves across the several weights.

FTF Flama is a straight-sided sans. The light weight clearly shows it is influenced by the technical DIN model, especially the capitals and the lowercase e, g & l. The sturdy serifs on the capital I are a nice touch. When you look closely though, the subtle stroke modulation lends it a grotesque feel. This gets more pronounced in the middle weights, which are more akin European grotesques, specifically Akzidenz Grotesque. The heaviest weight then veers towards American gothics like Franklin Gothic for the capitals and Bell Gothic for the lowercase - check the d, e, s and definitely the g.

But it doesn't stop there. One can also find references to wood type models like H&FJ Knockout and FB Rhode - for example in the numerals - and even a wink to Rotis Sans: the lowercase c shows how it should be done. And the family doesn't disappoint in the italics, where a couple of design quirks get the opportunity to really shine.

To conclude, FTF Flama is a highly enjoyable family peppered with "typographical citations", with lovely true italics, and available in a comfortable amount of weights. So next time I'll read about yet another new "neutral" sans, I'll wisely shut up and check it out before passing judgement.

BTW, As I don't drink any alcohol, let's consider the "beer-swilling" as creative license by the esteemed Mister Earls.

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Digested on January 14, 2005
Posted by David Earls

Typographer.org (and.com) have been going for about five or so years now, and its time for a change of format once again.

But rather than a new design, or a change in content, I've decided it might be fun to move the site away from my ramblings into a wider community. As last year proved graphically, I no longer have the time to maintain the website as I originally intended to, but I still feel that the site can offer a worthwhile alternative to the other typography sites out there. But in order to keep the site current, and bring on some much needed diversity, I need a hand.

What I would like to achieve is to get a group of interested (and interesting) people to take it in turns to write a regular weekly digest. Ideally, you'll be known in the type community in some way, and have experience or interest in writing on matters type. I'd like to maintain the digest format, but I would also be interested in having longer, subject-specific works (such as the typography for on-screen usage article I wrote last year) integrated into the site more often.

So then, this is a call for submissions for those interested in contributing to the website. If there is interest, we can move forward and start to bring quality and worthwhile content to the type community once more. If not, well, so be it!

If you would like to be considered for a regular digest slot, please get in contact with me. I am thinking that 4 different voices including my own, taking weekly turns at the digest, would make for a jolly site. I'm also interested in those of you who would like to help write the longer subject-specific articles, and even those just interested in "filling in" from time to time with guest slots.

As people who appreciate the history of this site will know, it has always been a non-commercial site that has never featured advertising, advertorials or any other form of direct support from the commercial world. This means that, along with journalistic integrity, comes only the reward of contributing to our community. Thats a long way of saying that I can't afford to pay you, I dont make any money either, but neither will we need to temper our words for fear of commercial reprisal! The only thank you I can offer regular contributors is a voice on the site and a funky typographer.org email address (with a POP3 account) of your choice.

Interested parties, or those with comments on the idea in general, should email in at the address in the footer of this page.

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