Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Helvetica Movie

Before I watched Helvetica I never realized how frequent the font was used. After watching the movie, I realized that the Font Helvetica was used in so many advertisements and businesses. For example they flashed through New York City and almost every or every other sign or type, was done in Helvetica. It is such a simple and sophisticated font that works well with the style of designing today. In the movie, one speaker made a very interesting comment on graphic designers, he said that graphic designers are basically in charge of illustrating and interpreting the way people picture concepts or images in their mind, because they are in charge of designing what people visualize. Those are not his exact words, but I just liked the way he explained a graphic designer's job and importance. Overall, Helvetica was a very interesting movie on design that had a lot of speakers with excellent points and thoughts for the design world.  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jonathan Hoefler was born August 22, 1970 in New York, where he still remains today. His parents are Doreen Benjamin and Charles Hoefler.  His mother Doreen was from Yorkshire and bought imported groceries with English labels with type unlike anything Jonathan was familiar with seeing in the United States. This sparked his fascination with letterforms, which played a huge role in his future. Hoefler became a self-taught typeface designer and an armchair type historian who specializes in the design of original typefaces. His main inspiration was from his collection of antique type specimen books, because historical revival played a huge role in his early typography designs.

Hoefler did not go to college, but instead at the age of 18 founded The Hoefler Type Foundry in 1989, in New York City. Before opening up his own business, he spent one year working with the magazine and newspaper art director Roger Black. Black taught and introduces Hoefler to type specimes, which hes been collecting and using ever since. He designed and redesigned magazines, and his first typefaces were very suitable for magazine headlines. Hoefler educated himself very well on the history of typography that he took it upon himself to write a letter to Spy Magazine criticizing the magazines critique of postmodern typography. After opening up the Type Foundry, he received a commission and designed fonts for Sports Illustrated, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, and Esquire. One of his early accomplishments was his typeface design Hoefler Text family of twenty-seven, which was a contemporary Antiqua font inspired by the seventeenth century baroque types of Jean Jannon and Nicholas Kis. It was designed for Apple Computer in 1991 in order to demonstrate advanced type technologies of the Mac, and is now appearing everywhere as part of the Macintosh operating system.


Hoefler takes so many factors into consideration when designing a typeface. These factors have changed since he has gained much more experience with type over the years. His first years were spent focusing on historical revival but his taste has somewhat evolved so he can create new styles. After ten years on his own, he teamed up with Tobias Frere-Jones in 1999. In 2004, the business was renamed as Hoefler and Frere-Jones Type foundry. They had been rivals and competitors for certain jobs and their alliance together was a very good solution for their careers. Since collaborating with a partner both of their thoughts and style are incorporated into the process of designing a typeface. "Working together has diminished by half the number of opportunities that are available to us individually," Mr. Hoefler said, "but it's doubled our ability."   Hoefler and Tobias have developed a routine to work together successfully, one way is to take turns over who has the micro and macro perspective on a project. They both find interest in late 19th century and 20th century, the Bahaus, and Morris Fuller Benton. Their collaboration has made history with the world’s leading publications, corporations, and institutions. Hoefler and Frere-Jones Type Foundry has grown into such a successful type design business, Time Magazine stated,“Hoefler and Frere-Jones create fonts that stand out with the clarity, elegance, and durability, of a well-cut diamond…. An H&FJ typeface is always exquisitely legible without sacrificing high style.”    

Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones have created over 1,000 fonts, but have only released 500 for Tiffany & Co., Nike, New York Jets, and the rock band They Might Be Giants. The ultimate duo works extremely hard in their development process. They vigorously research and carry around small notebooks everywhere they go. Hoefler and Frere-Jones are capable to reconstruct fonts from a few elements, which means they are not exactly creating a new font. For instance, one of their clients Bierut needed them to help reconstruct a font based on a few clues to create a new sign after the renovation of the Lever House in 2000. Bierut stated, “Here, they’re like anthropologists who can reconstruct a whole lifelike representation of an extinct beast from just a few random fossils.” Both of them were also needed in a similar situation, when they redesigned the fonts for the Wall Street Journal. Their job was to create the typeface Retina, which was supposed to be 5pt and used on the stock pages. Hoefler and Tobias analyzed 129 foreign and international papers. After coming up with the typeface they spent an extensive amount of time double checking and testing the font, so it could stand up to the effect of spread and ink squeeze that can happen in newspaper printing.  They always double-check and test their font solution so no one comes to them with a complaint or reason why they can’t use a particular font. They did everything they could to satisfy their clients and by doing this they have created a well-respected typography business.

In an interview with The Typographic Times Hoefler talks about what he specializes in and what influences his work.

 You’re known as a specialist of revival typefaces ? Why this specialization ?

It’s funny; I do think of myself as someone closely involved in historical revivals, but most of the work I’ve done in the past ten years has been outside the historical continuum. This has been especially so in the last five years, during which Tobias Frere-Jones and I have worked together. We always keep an eye on history, but we’re ever more interested in designing new typefaces rather than interpreting old ones.

The typeface history, before the 20th century (and even) is very European. Do you find historical materials to design typeface in the American printing heritage?

Absolutely! I suppose the most obvious example is my Knockout typeface, which is an interpretation of specifically American forms. Tobias and I are both really interested in late 19th and early 20th century American typefounding - the organization of the American Type Founders company (ATF) at the turn of the last century being an especially important event, as it pitted an old approach to typefounding against a new one. (Where 19th century typefounders anthologized as much as possible, 20th century ones tried to organize and rationalize what had been done.) The work of Morris Fuller Benton is especially interesting in this regard.

What are the other factors, except history, you take into consideration when you design a typeface?

History takes a back seat to the most important thing we consider, which is application. By this I’m talking not only about a typeface’s material considerations -- at what sizes it works best, in what sorts of media it will be rendered -- but what it’s for in the first place. We’d always 
rather begin a conversation about a new typeface by talking about application rather than history: the person who wants "a nice Bodoni" is probably going to be well-served by a typeface that already exists, though the one who wants a more legible stock listings page may actually need something new.

You have the reputation to design some very beautiful typeface specimens. Like the punchcutters of the past...

Thanks very much! It’s nice that you noticed -- I do labor over them quite a bit. One of the reasons I decided to start the business back in 1989 was that I was disappointed to see how typefaces were presented. I couldn’t think of anything more depressing than spending years of your life working on a new design, only to see it showcased as nothing more than an alphabet at twelve point. I really love using the typefaces that we produce here at H&FJ, and there’s nothing I look forward to more than getting to work with the fonts that we have in development. Mind you, as the library grows, it’s increasingly difficult to find novel ways of presenting new typefaces, but figuring out a solution is one of a designer’s great satisfactions.


Major businesses and corporations aren’t the only ones who rely on Hoefler and Frere-Jones, graphic designers are always stopping by in need for new fonts. This happens all the time since New York design community surrounds their type foundry, it is located on the intersection of Houston and Broadway.  They also have their information and fonts available on www.typography.com and this extends their business and allows them to be available to anyone. Hoefler has basically dedicated his life to his type foundry even his wife Carleen  takes part and works for the type foundry as it’s business and marketing manager. His hard work and dedication has paid off with all his awards and honorable mention. I.D. Magazine named the forensic typographer one of the forty most influential designers in America. He has award winning published original typeface designs for Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire. His work has also been exhibited internationally, and is included in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (Smithsonian Institution) in New York. In 2002, Hoefler received another remarkable mention, by received the most prestigious award from the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI), known as the Prix Charles Peignot for outstanding contributions to type design. Hoefler’s accomplishments and dedication has also earned him profiles in The New York Times, Time, and Esquire. Today, he still remains President of Hoefler and Frere-Jones Type Foundry, where he still dedicates his time to type design by creating new typeface designs and striving to reach his goals as a designer.

Hoefler’s Fonts

HTF Acropolis 1993, HTF Champion Gothic 1990, HTF Didot 1992, English Textura, Fell Type, HTF Fetish, HTF Gestalt, Great Primer Uncials, HTF Hoefler Text 1991, HTF Leviathan 1991, HTF Requiem 1992, HTF Saracen 1992, St Augustin Civilité , HTF Ziggurat 1991, Ideal Sans 1991, Mazarin 1991, Knockout 1994, Quantico 1994, Troubadour 1994, Guggenheim 1996, Kapellmeister 1997, Mercury 1997, Chronicle 2002. Whitney, Numbers 2006, Verlag, Topaz, The Proteus Project, Shades, Knox, Hoefler Tilting, Historical Allsorts, Giant, Archer (his main fonts, hundreds more listed on his website)

Hoefler Text (1991)


Oldstyle typeface

Characteristics: automatic ligatures, the round and long “s”, real small capitals, old style figures, swashes, ornamental

When Hoefler created Hoefler Text during a time where he wanted to show typography on its highest level. He blended characteristics from Garamond and Janson fonts to create a very descriptive font.