TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Thu Mar 30 08:01:44 EDT 2017






Call it what it is [John Downer]

Great article by John Downer on the various categories of historical revivals. He classifies them as follows:

  • "Revivals/Recuttings/Reclamations": Closely based on historical models (metal type, hand-cut punches, etc.) for commercial or noncommercial purposes, with the right amount of historic preservation and sensitivity to the virtues of the original being kept in focus-all with a solid grounding in type scholarship behind the effort, too.
  • "Anthologies/Surveys/Remixes": Closely based on characters from various fonts all cut by one person, or cut by various hands, all working in one particular style or genre-like a medley or an overview done more for the sake of providing a "sampling" than for the sake of totally replicating any one single cut of type.
  • "Knockoffs/Clones/Counterfeit": Closely based on commercial successes (of any medium) to belatedly muscle in on part of an unsaturated market, often by being little more than a cheap imitation of what has already been deemed by experts as a legitimate revival. "Me Too" fonts, or "Copy Cat" fonts, as they are called, tend to focus on opportunism rather than on originality. These don't rate as revivals because they don't revive.
  • "Reconsiderations/Reevaluations/ Reinterpretations": Loosely based on artistic successes (of any medium) as a kind of laboratory exercise, often without much concern for their immediate or eventual commercial viability.
  • "Homages/Tributes/Paeans": Loosely based on historical styles and/or specific models, usually with admiration and respect for the obvious merits of the antecedents-but with more artistic freedom to deviate from the originals and to add personal touches; taking liberties normally not taken with straight revivals.
  • "Encores/Sequels/Reprises": Loosely based on commercial successes (of any medium) as a means of further exploring, or further exploiting, an established genre; milking the Cash Cow one more time.
  • "Extensions/Spinoffs/Variations": Loosely based on artistic or commercial successes (of any medium) for only rarely more than minor advancements in a tried, popular, accepted style; akin to previous category.
  • "Caricatures/Parodies/Burlesques": Loosely based on prominent features of the model, often with humor or satire as the primary objective, but quite often also with humor or satire as an unexpected effect.
This piece is wonderful and timely. The only category missing is that of the "scanned type": a digital typeface created from a scan of the original typeface as a digital and historical record, without any attempt to modify or interpret. Scanned type is usually created hastily, often by type historians or type addicts to illustrate documents, and sometimes by typographers commissioned to quickly create certain designs.

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html