Some of you may remember me excitedly gushing over Felix Braden’s experimentation and print process in developing his distressed Kontiki font (which was recently nominated for a German Design Award 2019). Kontiki was the most adventurous of design processes as he swung between analogue and digital to honor print and its distortions in the digital medium.
In developing Kontiki Felix began with a bold clarendon style form, which he began drawing with inspiration from one of his personal favourites of the genre, Century Schoolbook.
“To create the Kontiki fonts, Felix began by combining the shape grammar of Century Schoolbook with the contrast of Clarendon. He first drew a light and a black of his work-in-progress hybrid typeface before digitally interpolating to generate a bold weight. Then, Inspired by his wife's hand-carved woodcuts, Felix drew 193 glyphs which were manually cut (at a size of around 150 points) on wooden plates before being carefully printed by hand.“
After completing Kontiki to much celebration and admiration from our community, Felix set to work expanding the family by developing the characters that informed his woodcuts. The resulting font is Pulpo, a friendly and comfortable looking slab serif inspired by Century Schoolbook and Clarendon.
Pulpos longer extenders give text a bit more air to breathe and improve legibility in small text sizes. Despite the strength and sturdiness of the design, each letter shape carries warmth and an echo of the human hand. The familiarity of the letterforms also conceals some nostalgia.
The family has 10 styles, ranging from Light to Black (including italics) and is ideally suited for editorial, advertising and packaging as well as web and app design. A massive body combined with low stroke contrast, emphasizing the horizontal elements, make it very suitable on screen and for small text sizes on newsprint paper. Each cut includes 489 glyphs with four sets of numerals and extended language support to meet the needs of today’s complex communication.
Felix writes “The first Clarendon was released in 1845 by the Fann Street foundry, designed by Robert Besley and cut by Benjamin Fox. Planned as a bold expansion for the rational text typefaces of that time – an alternative to small caps or italics to highlight text passages – there were originally no light or text versions of the Clarendon and of course no italics. In the following century Clarendon has become a model for a variety of typefaces (e.g. Hermann Eidenbenz’s Clarendon and Freeman Craw’s Craw Clarendon), cut for hot metal type setting and expanded for phototypesetting which were digitized in the 90’s.
Century Schoolbook has derived over decades from the Scotch ancestors, over a newspaper typeface (Century) to a standard for educational texts in the United States. Today it has rightly become a synonym for readability and is for me the quintessential American typeface triggering a friendly, comfortable feeling. As the proportions of the characters are perfectly balanced it seemed to be a good source of inspiration for my Clarendon.
To create the uprights of “Pulpo” I drew over the skeleton of Century Schoolbook, and designed a Clarendon by reducing the contrast and adding typical elements like the long upturning tails and horizontal terminals. Some letters e.g. the “a” or the “g” had to be completely reworked because the letterform differs in the Clarendon tradition.
For the Italics, Jonathan Hoefler’s Sentinel was a great source of inspiration, but I wanted the Italics to be more static and less script-like. In my opinion Aldo Novarese has pushed it a bit too far with his “Egizo Serie Corsiva” but I love the Italics of Matthew Carter’s New Century Schoolbook.
As a very important design feature the upper left terminal of Pulpo’s “n” is still a serif and not a hooked finial. On the other side the horizontally cut upturning tails have been moderated and adjusted to forms derived from writing.
As I wanted the typeface to be very legible even in longer texts, I decided to remove a couple of ornamental features that don’t work well in small text sizes. Especially the less eccentric figures differ from the historic Clarendon examples.”