Planet typography MyFonts
The typographic Times
[May 2007]
by Mark Simonson
The Coquette origins

I got the idea for Coquette in the early 1990s when I was designing a logo for a mail-order catalog called “Signals”. It was one of several  designs, but was not the one that was chosen. (The one that was  became Blakely.) The idea in my mind was a sort of European style sans serif script reminiscent of the French script style, such as Typo Upright. To me, the result had a familiar look, but I could not place where or when I had seen it, if indeed I had seen it. It maybe never existed before. To this day, I am still not sure.

In any case, the concept stuck in my head and I began to imagine what the rest of the letters and numbers would look like. Everything seemed to fall into place. It was almost as if it designed itself. For years I continued to redraw refine the letters in doodles and sketches. It seemed inevitable that it would be a font someday.

I attempted to digitize it in 1995. At the time, I was not confident enough in my ability to draw its curves by eye and thought it would be easier to start with circles. I was wrong. It looked stiff and ungraceful. Although the letters at first appeared geometric, they weren’t.

Coquette 1994 Coquette early doodle, 1994


In 2001 I tried again, only this time I took a different approach. I did a rough sketch on paper of all the characters in the font. I scanned this into the computer and used it to get the correct proportions, not for the exact shapes. I drew the letters over these scans in Adobe Illustrator using only Bézier curves--no circles except as necessary. I made very few measurements and trusted my eye for most of the curved forms, and to get the weight and details 
right. Unlike the earlier attempt, this time everything once again fell into place, almost as if the font drew itself. The lesson I learned from Coquette was to trust my hand and my eye.

Coquette 1994
Coquette production sketch, 2001
the sketch is not very “tight”. Its purpose was to capture the spirit of the letters, not the details. The “tight” drawing was done in the computer

The name of a typeface

At first I was going to call the font Ruby Script. But I soon discovered that this was already the name of a programming language (not very well known outside of Japan at the time). Instead I chose the name Coquette in honor of its inspiration from French scripts. In the end I think it was the perfect name.


Coquette in action



Related article: Mark Simonson interview (March 2007)