blazoned arrangements
February 23, 2005 7:26 PM   Subscribe

Typographica presents their favorite fonts of 2004.
posted by The Jesse Helms (18 comments total)
Wow, those are gorgeous... I'm drooling.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:34 PM on February 23, 2005

One day, I am going to learn about fonts. Great link!

(Question: why are fonts so pricey?)
posted by Quartermass at 8:06 PM on February 23, 2005

Lots of great fonts with nice clean lines - nothing too gimmicky. I was really glad to see the inclusion of Ed Interlock from the Ed Benguiat Font Collection at House. All the fonts in that series look great, but since I have no practical use for a good font set outside of mix disc covers I can't justify paying the money to own a set for myself. And of course, I pick what is most likely the most gimmicky font from the list.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:06 PM on February 23, 2005

Avenir is so not the better Futura, but it's quite nice. Crazy-mad props to Richard Lipton for Bickham Script Pro. That must have been insanely difficult to get to kern right.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:12 PM on February 23, 2005

May I just take this opportunity to say that Trebuchet turns my stomach. </offtopic>

And I agree with C_D.
Bickham is wonderful! Now if I only had a web site to design on the subject of Civil War era penmanship.
posted by spock at 8:34 PM on February 23, 2005

Are these fonts all commercial? What I really want is a big ol download link on that page for a zip file of the lot...

Does that make me a cheapskate?
posted by anthill at 8:48 PM on February 23, 2005

Quartermass: Fonts are pricey because of the incredible amounts of time that go into their creation. About half the time of making a solid, quality typeface goes into things that most end-users don't notice: for example, kerning (the process of going through a huge list of letter pairs and making sure the letterspacing looks right when the two glyphs are set next to one another, eg the letter e is often kerned to fit under the righthand whitespace of the uppercase T. This is considerably more difficult for script typefaces, since each glyph must connect to the next one.)

And this has to be done meticulously for every font in a family. A good type designer usually won't just use an automatic increase-weight or slant filter to produce bold and italic variants.
posted by tepidmonkey at 9:07 PM on February 23, 2005

Of the Honorable Mention fonts: Didot Elder is waaay to clever for its own good. I like Andulka (with the possible exception of the capital "Q"). I also like Lexicon but for the undersized lower-case "a" and the pidgeon-toed looking capital "A" and "X" (thanks to the positioning of the serifs). Billhead is OUTSTANDING and I think I need to purchase THAT at once.
posted by spock at 9:23 PM on February 23, 2005

I like Typographica, but I wasn't impressed by a few of the choices in this list. There are faces in the small "honorable mentions" list at the bottom that are far better than some of the ones showcased.

Quartermass, high-quality fonts suitable for book work and other professional design require a lot of time and skill to develop. Some designers take years to refine a design until it's released. The devil's in the small details of weight, proportion, and spacing. It's easy to knock out a crappy display font (there's a ton of free ones online).

Postscript-based publishing has reduced the cost of fonts a lot and opened up the market for competition from small foundries. I do think that Avenir Next (and the other Linotype "Next" series fonts) are overpriced. ($995!!!)

On preview, tepidmonkey beat me to it.
posted by D.C. at 9:35 PM on February 23, 2005

As much as I love Futura for headlines and signage, Avenir Next is better for setting body text as it includes small caps and a true italic.
posted by Monk at 9:40 PM on February 23, 2005

UM, is it just me, or did we just have a post on this subject?

MetaFilter, all font, all the time.<small

posted by berek at 10:01 PM on February 23, 2005

Hallo. I finally wised up and joined the MeFi Nation.

Thanks for the linkage, Mr. Helms. A few responses:

spock - I think the lc 'a' in the Lexicon preview is a victim of the screen-res rendering process and not what you'd see in print. Enschede, the foundry that produced Lexicon, is one of the premiere foundries and I don't see them making a mistake of that magnitude. You should request their printed catalogs to get a better look at their work. Beautiful stuff.

D.C. - I'm interested to hear which of the Honorable Mentions should have made the cut. It might help to know I developed the article by starting with a list that included of every font on that page and asked the writers to select their favorites. I'd like to expand the idea next year with more contributors and hopefully a broader perspective.

On the $995 Avenir - It's easy to look at a font package's price tag without noticing the # of fonts you'll receive for that cost. Avenir Next is a pretty hefty bundle at 97 weights. When you check the $/font it starts to make more sense. That said, I wish they'd break down the pack to more digestible chunks.
posted by Typographica at 10:13 PM on February 23, 2005

UM, is it just me, or did we just have a post on this subject?

I thought so too, at first, but I'm not finding one. It has been on HotLinks and for days though, so perhaps you saw it somewhere else. Or perhaps you are thinking of the comment that linked to Typographica in this discussion.
posted by spock at 10:21 PM on February 23, 2005

PS... "welcome", user Typographica!
posted by spock at 10:29 PM on February 23, 2005

As the founder and "other" (i.e., mostly silent) editor of Typographica, let me also welcome new user Typographica, and we both thank you, thejessehelms, for the props.

I am left out of this one as when Stephen passed around an email asking for favorite releases in 2004, I wrote him that I thought it had been a uniformly poor and unsurprising year for type design. I am glad to have been proven wrong.
posted by luriete at 10:40 PM on February 23, 2005

Billhead is OUTSTANDING and I think I need to purchase THAT at once.

Ooh, didn't notice that one... looks like we've finally got an 19th century type alternative to Bodoni. W00t!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:43 PM on February 23, 2005

UM, is it just me, or did we just have a post on this subject?

You, Sir, are still a philistine.
posted by ninthart at 2:40 AM on February 24, 2005

welcome back, Senator
posted by matteo at 6:34 AM on February 24, 2005

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