Designer Jeremy Tankard describes his latest release as ‘expressive, emotive and explosive’.
The Brucker family has 4 weights in 2 styles, and is designed as a ‘restless typeface’ which adds drama and energy to text through the use of interrupted curves, a dynamic rhythm and disjointed baseline.
The forms are commanding, and I was captivated so I caught up with Jeremy to learn more…
The ‘restlessness’ and movement is wonderful how did the expressionist art challenge you break rules and test convention?
Looking at the Expressionists was one part of it. I was also captivated by the work of Spanish fashion designer, Cristóbal Balenciaga. In 2017 the V&A in London held a solo exhibition on his work. He wasn’t afraid of challenging convention and making new ‘silhouettes’ to reshape his vision of fashion – the ‘barrel line’, the ’semi-fitted jacket’. I took this idea and instead of looking at the ‘skeletal letter’ that underpins a letter shape, changed my thinking to the outside edges of the shape and pushed and pulled those around to make different spaces. Just approaching it from a different angle. This way I could ‘break’ a curve, or as I thought it ‘interrupted a curve’.
The work of the Expressionists, made shapes that we still understand to be what they are supposed to represent, but they come from a different angle. Angry lines, chaotic colours. Flat planes, slabs, proportions. There was also a fantastic programme on Egon Schiele this was brilliantly done with a fantastic soundtrack. It was this energy and contrast to what I see every day in type, that I aimed to capture.
You note that you wanted to ‘avoid the cleansing mechanical line of the computer’ how did this inform your production methodology?
I generally start in an A5 sketchbook. This was no different. But what I did do this time was to spend far more time drawing. I moved from sketchbook to A4 paper and did loads of pencil drawings – fast to capture the energy. Then I made pretty much a full set (letters) of drawings on tracing paper. I’ve increasingly worked this way as it retains the rough unfinished shape, they are quick to do and can be moved around, together, viewed from all angles. I can see how the shapes are fitting and make small changes. Just the same as on computer, but I’m not controlled by the ‘clean, accurate line’ I want to enjoy the basic shapes as they are and not be distracted by trying to make the developing letter shape ‘correct’. From trace drawings I also made a few ink drawings. Not done this before. But I just wanted to see a solid shape with raw edges. Some of these are shown at studiotype.com. Once I was reasonably happy and had waited long enough, I moved to computer. As I had the type pretty much sketched out I just replicated it on screen. The shapes remained the same to some extent, well the ideas did, but they change as always. One thing I did want to keep was the the informality across all the alignment and that all stems are different, but harmonised together. Also, there are no alternate characters and the letter shapes are created as a response to the shapes of neighbouring letters.
What are your favourite details in Brucker?
I like how a line of caps bounces along. I like the black italic, the deep cuts – this was a solution to maintain the stem weight, but also give the idea of cursive structure. I like the push and pull of both edges of the outline
I feel like joyous counter shapes are a reoccurring triumph in your typefaces - do you pay particular attention to these negative volumes or are they a byproduct of your craftsmanship of the positive shapes you are drawing?
Yep. you’ll read this over and over in type design – negative spaces make the positive ones sing. Ying and yang. The negative is as important as the positive. With Brucker, the negative spaces were made more abstract where I could – you can see this more in the italic (certainly black italic) the v, w with their left stems twisting.
How do you hope to see this typeface used?
That’s up to designers. I’m constantly surprised how a type is used and were it ends up. There are obvious possibilities such as titling, posters, packaging. But it would be great to see it big extruded signage, perhaps pushing the depth in an idiosyncratic way as the 2D is – so not just even. Who knows. I increasingly want to design type that I want to make, irrespective of ‘following trends’. I like not knowing where a design can go instead of knowing what I’m going to end up with.
What are you working on now Brucker has been released?
I’m in Porto, about to give a talk at ‘Plug & Play 2019’ I’ve decided to take about ‘Principles of type’ (as I see them). Its pretty much all questions to get the students to think. Once that is done. I have a few ideas of the next type. Both are display, one more so. We’ll see.