The succinctly named Switzerland-based type foundry Swiss Typefaces just launched the third issue of its Type Life publication, celebrating “non-Swiss typefaces” from 1569-2018. It’s certainly a broad remit – especially considering that the choice across that 449-year period is reduced to just 19 typefaces. According to Florian Hardwig of Fonts in Use, who penned the essay introducing the publication, that final selection “transcends being a subjective hit list, and gives an illuminating overview of the current scene, in terms of stylistic trends, but also in regard to other, less obvious factors”.
Each spread in the magazine showcases two typefaces, with lettering often deliberately spilling into the gutters and sweeping onto the next pages, “remind[ing] us that nothing exists in a vacuum,” says Hardwig.
The oldest typeface in the magazine is shown on two plates from Italian calligrapher Giovanni Francesco Cresci’s Il Perfetto scrittore, showcased alongside what Swiss Typefaces dubs “the best typeface ever made”, Caslon Old Face. Other highlights across this whistle-stop tour of type history include a celebration of Letraset face Vincent, “cheeky 1970s display faces” like Sally-Ann Grover’s Block Up and Benoit Brun’s Japanese-inspired Shakotan.
Among the 19 international type foundries featured are Commercial Type, Dinamo Typefaces, DSType, Linotype, Milieu Grotesque, Or Type, Production Type, Sharp Type and Velvetyne Typefoundry; with distribution models ranging from traditional licensing to subscriptions, free and open-sourced fonts, as well as experimental and unfinished releases.
For each issue of Type Life, Swiss Typefaces appoints a guest contributor, and for issue three, French lettering artist and All Eyes on Type festival organiser Julien Priez was brought in to pepper the mag with his own work. A still from his animated Nightmare Alphabet graces the cover as a screen shot, with two of his in-progress fonts Boogy Roma and Boogy Link working alongside the lurid green and yellow palette to create a 1990s Net Art vibe. These sit next to the Type Life masthead, which is set in SangBleu Empire Black.
Type Life magazine was started by the foundry “to give our customers and followers something tangible, a physical object from us they can enjoy and collect,” says Emmanuel Rey of Swiss Typefaces. Prior to issue three, the publications had only showcased the foundry’s own work, but felt that it was time to “take a look beyond our own work and celebrate contemporary type by showcasing excellent work done by other talented type designers,” says Rey.
The design of each issue looks to go beyond traditional type specimens, “which are usually very dry, conservative and made to boost sales by highlighting the characteristics of the fonts featured,” says Rey. “The design has to bring something that can capture people’s attention, it has to be visually strong and attract people even if at first that’s by disturbing them with something unusual,” he explains.
“It has to be innovative enough and visually fresh. The layout has to be consistent enough to allow a series of publications, but with as few constraints as possible to give space for our experiments to express themselves.”
You can order copies of Type Life issue 3 here