Vintage Fonts in The Artist
After seeing it win all sorts of Oscars I had to sneak out for a matinee of The Artist yesterday. I had already been advised that it was worth checking out for its use of vintage fonts, including some of ours, and it seemed like I shouldn’t put it off any longer.
While the film was certainly enjoyable both as an unusual creative undertaking and as pure entertainment, and the performances from familiar and unfamiliar actors were very good, the use of period fonts in the film was problematic. Yes, it did feature some of our fonts and some fonts quite similar to others in our collection. It was nice to see Moravia and Amphitryon being used on posters for fictional movies starring Georg Valentin. But the irony of the inclusion of these two of our fonts was that they were largely inappropriate, especially Moravia. Both fonts fall into a category of late Art Nouveau fonts which are based on European hand lettering which would be very unlikely to have been seen on any product coming out of Hollywood, so they were sort of out of place, though not entirely out of period. Some of the other fictional poster designs were quite well done and included very appropriate font choices.
Perhaps more troubling was the way in which the largely silent film’s title cards were designed. They used a font similar to, but less interesting than our own title card font, Valentin (shown to the left). What a bizarre coincidence that the main character in the film should have the same last name as our silent film title card font, which pre-dated him by several years. Quite inexplicable. That aside, the design of the title cards was atrocious.
While they used an appropriate looking font, apparently someone in the production design department assumed that “vintage” means that proper spacing and kerning had not been invented yet. The text on the title cards was poorly justified and characters were often jammed together within a word while the words were generally spaced too far apart, plus there were obvious design flaws in the font, including consistently faulty spacing around some of the characters, most notably the “?” which was offset by a full em-space on each side whenever it was used. Because of my peculiar interests I may have been the only audience member to find this irritating, but someone should have told the designer that in fact fonts were properly spaced and kerned in the 1920s and that justifying the alignment of short lines of text was generally not done because of the spacing irregularities which it created then and still does today.
Seeing the use of vintage fonts in The Artist gave me an idea, so we’re going to be gathering together a special selection of our fonts from the silent movie era which have the appropriate art deco look for things like title cards, lobby cards and posters, and we will be releasing them in a package as our Silent Movie Fonts Collection sometime soon.
New Font: BigBlok
A great many years ago when working in game publishing I had a real fascination with doing titles in a strong, super-bold font called Bolt Bold. The truth is I rather overused it. In doing some research I find it on more than a dozen different game books I wrote in the early 80s, all quite collectable and out of print today.
Butterfield is based on letting from a poster for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It can be found as part of Psychedelic Fonts Collection package. It has a unique look particularly characteristic of the 60s and especially suited to use on posters. It has a full set of numbers and punctuation, plus custom small [...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Malagua was originally released in 1999 and has been revised several times since then, culminating in this new release with improved weighting and additional special characters. MAlagua is based on examples of rough hand lettering from the 17th century. It has characteristics [...]
Phaeton is one of our earliest Art Nouveau designs, a lovely example of period title lettering based on French samples. This new release has some significant improvements to the outlines and additional characters added to the basic set. You can find Phaeton in our Art Nouveau Collection or order it individua[...]
It has taken a lot of hours of development, but we finally have our promised Walter Crane Initials font. Or should I say FOUR fonts, because in the process of developing the font it turned out that we ended up with more than we bargained for. One reason that there are four fonts is that there was so[...]
Pyle Gothic is based on lettering designed by Howard Pyle, from his Adventures of Robin Hood and King Arthur and His Knights. It combines elements of calligraphy and a simulation of primitive printing techniques.The original characters were carved into wood blocks from which the black and white illustrations wit[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Doge is a new font based on samples of late-renaissance period lettering from Venice, preserved and reproduced by early 20th century calligrapher and designer J. M. Bergling. It has some similarity to some of our other fonts based on lettering from the same period[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Power tie is based on a design for hand lettering from the 1930s. It was originally done as a conceptual design for signage in a men's haberdashery. It is a handsome, muscular font in the Art Deco tradition. It includes a full character set with numbers and punctuation, and a se[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Roghwork is a unique font which combines a decoarative upper case character set with a simple set of lowercase characters. Designed primarily for use in titles and posters, the uppercase characters are based on samples of hand-drawn master designs for a set of roman-st[...]
In an article last week we explored the origins of the font used in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and a bit of the history of the Django genre of films. That was part of the process of the development of an original font based on the lettering used in the original Django, a process similar to what was p[...]
BUY NOW Cymbeline was one of our earliest font designs and has been fairly popular over the years, but some of the shortcomings of the font came to our attention after seeing the font on a book cover, so we decided to work it over and see if we could produce an improved version, while preserving the ca[...]
Wolfram is a great example of early 20th century type design. It is bold and intended for use in posters and signage, but it has rough outlines for a mock antique look. It also has an unusually wide footprint for a very striking look.We originally produced Wolfram in the mid-90s, and it has been somewhat revise[...]
Dahlgren is a heavyweight, square shaped font which works well for titles and display uses. Its an original design, with a standard character set and a set of outline characters. It takes its name from the Civil War era engineer who designed the Dahlgren Gun. You can try the DEMO version of Dahlgren for fre[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Cosmic Dude was designed as one of the special original fonts developed for our Modern Poster Fonts package. The character forms are based on samples of hand lettering from a late 1970s rock show poster. The character set includes numbers, punctuation, uppercase letter[...]
Film director Sergei Eisenstein was a major influence on the Constructivist movement through his collaboration with Alexander Rodchenko and by inspiring other artists of the era. Thus it seems appropriate that the final font in our Constructivist Font Collection should be named after Eisenstein, especiall[...]
BUY NOW TRY DEMO Custom Preview Lyceum has the stylized shape and look of a font designed for the program at a lecture hall, hence the name. It is super bold but remains highly readable at fairly small sized, though the contrasts are dramatic. It features only an uppercase characters set because the st[...]
Here's a little something from a more innocent age, a set of three decorative floral borders designed by L. E. Wright for the book Mary's Garden a collection of nursery rhymes together with explanatory/elaborative stories also by Wright. There are just three borders, so it's not exactly enough for a package in its o[more]
It's time for politics, with primaries coming up early next year for the presidential elections. That means that candidates and protesters and marching activists all need posters and we have the fonts to make them look good and draw the eye. Whether you're standing outside a milk subsidies townhall or marching for fe[more]
In our endless acquisition of graphic arts resources we come across oddities from time to time. One of those is this collection of classic fairy tales told through illustrations by Frank T. Merrill, which were published in a series of children's books called Heart of Oak. They are here free to download as a bonus for [more]
Too often when looking at antique books we concentrate on the contents and ignore the covers, but some book covers are artworks in their own right and cannot be ignored, this is even more true with eBooks which are more and more causing content to be divorced from packaging. In the early 20th century, before the adv[more]
At the dawn of the 20th century there was a real boom in the market for high end books. This created demand for really exceptional book illustrators and many traditionally trained artists brought their skills to publishers and were very well paid for their work. New printing techniques made it possible to publish ver[more]
As part of Great Britain's participation in the 1906 World's Fair in Chicago, legendary Arts and Crafts artist Walter Crane was comissioned to produce a special commemorative book in a limited edition. The result was Columbia's Courtship, an epic poem about American history, written and hand lettered by Walter Crane wi[more]
For years we've been adding to what has become an outstanding library of illustrated books by Arts and Crafts era designer Walter Crane, and all that work has come to fruition with the release of selected Walter Crane material in outstanding packages customized for contemporary designers who want to incorporate his uni[more]
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