What is P22?
The name P22 has no known significance. It was a found object (a rubber stamp in a sans serif with just “P22”) The name was applied to several art/commerce projects in college and grad school.
Can you explain why the types distributed on the P22 website are divided between P22 / IHOF / Lanston / Rimmer / Sherwood collections ?
P22 started first- all font “sets” that were packaged and sold in museum gift shops. All designs were created “in house” many were licensed from museums and foundations IHOF (International House of Fonts) was created to accommodate a) fonts that were not packed in sets b) only sold online and c) from designers not in house at P22...all things P22s were not.
How have you discovered your taste for type design ?
Looking for things that didn’t exist. If you cant find it...then you make it. If it exists but not in a a form that is acceptable...make it better.
You often propose your thematic typefaces pack with a dedicated dingbats font...
The initial marketing of P22 fonts in sets had fonts but also in trying to appeal to a more general market, dingbats or ornaments become much more obvious to the non-designer about how they might be used in a unique way. So just about every P22 package has a dingbat font included. Plus they are fun to make and use.
You like to design typefaces with a strong historical connotations (Modernist, Arts & Craft, Constructivist). How do you choose your themes ? Where do you find your sources ?
Sources are found everywhere. We have built up a very large design library but we also have had access to the collections of the Museums we have worked with. Choose the themes has evolved. In the early years of P22, the set had too be able to sell enough to cover the production costs of the packaging and later on the CD pressing costs. Now that P22 doesn’t necessarily have to issue packaging, we can be more flexible and experimental in the titles we release. Almost all of the P22 sets features designs that were famous lettering in Design or Art history but never made available digitally. P22 is like an interactive history of lettering. Looking at Bauhaus lettering is one thing. Setting type with it is something very different. I would like to think our fonts open up Design history to a wider audience. I think of much of what we do as typographic archaeology
This is related to the Design and Art history themes of the P22 museum fonts. Cezanne was initially commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a Paul Cezanne Exhibition. They didn’t ask for a handwriting font, they just had an exhibition coming up and they wanted a font. The team we worked with was previously at the Guggenheim museum and we had worked on the Josef Albers set using the artwork in their collection. Cezanne was more of a free form idea we had. There were not really any casual and convincing handwriting fonts out there when we did Cezanne. Again filling a perceived void.
On a typographic point of view, is it the same work to digitalize an handwriting and to design a roman typeface ?
Very different approaches in doing the digitizing. A handwriting font is more like doing a painting and a Roman is more like Architecture and construction (actually a Geometric Sans is very much like Architecture sometimes like Frank Geary).
As far as I know, you have only designed titling typefaces ? You have no project to design a complete family like the one you sell in the Lanston typefaces collection for instance ?
Myself, yes, I have only designed display faces. I see amazing work being done with text faces, but don’t feel I have a contribution to make in that area. I may change my mind and become obsessed someday with making a complex type system that breaks new ground and fills a niche not yet covered, but not right now.
What will be your next historical inspired typeface ?
One that was started about 5 years ago. An early Roman digitized in three very different ways by 3 different designers. Again and experiment that will hopefully be very useful to designers. One by myself that is an approximation of how the type would have looked as cut by the punchcutter with minimal ink gain but some natural irregularities. Another by Paul Hunt that takes the same design and makes a very clean digital rendering with minimal distortion (as if the 16th century punchcutter had access to fontlab) and a third by Colin Kahn that uses direct under inked digitizations of the printed pages with random Opentype features to give a random distressed look. All three will have the same metrics. So there.