Typography Update

  • UpdatedJul 19, 2021

  • Reading time2 min

After a lot of experimentation and staring at concepts, I have replaced GT America with Signifier, as my heading font.

Why?

While I was experimenting with pastel and warm theme palettes I kept feeling like GT America was getting in the way, I feel the brash sans-serif was overpowering the subtle colours. I was also getting tired of the stark contrast between the serif of Blanco and the sans-serif of GT America. I tried to reduce the amount treatments to GT America in the hope that I could balance out the folders aspects — the headings were larger and bolder than the body — but reducing the weight and size of GT America made me feel like I was putting a muzzle on GT America, it shines brightest in big, bold and playful uses.

Finding a replacement

Early on I knew that I needed to find a serif to pair with Blanco, which I was nervous about — it's not common to pair two different serifs, and not something I have lots of practice in — I ended up with two candidates: Self Modern, and Signifier 1. Self is round, friendly, and warm, while Signifier is sharper, and more confident. After experimenting with both I found that Self worked well enough, but did suffer from contrast issues in the lighter weights, upping the weight was too much. Signifier clicked immediately, at times feeling like an unofficial display family of Blanco, different enough to stand apart, but similar enough to gel together.

While reading about Signifier I found a deeper connection between it, and my work:

Signifier is a Brutalist response to 17th century typefaces...Sowersby worked consciously with the computer to recast the lead, antimony, and tin of the 17th century Fell Types into ones and zeros. Signifier emerged from this alchemy with Bézier curves and sharp vectors determined by machine logic and a Brutalist ethos.

This speaks to me as a former graphic designer, the warmth of printed design can bring otherwise stark work to life, whereas the digital world where I now live often considers that lack of warmth a feature. I've always felt like I sit somewhere between in my personal taste. That extra little bit of relevance cemented my decision to move forwards with Signifier.

Overall I am very happy with the move, the decision made designing per-page themes much easier and gave me new confidence in the design of the site.


References

  1. Self Modern: designed by Lucas Le Bihan and published through Bretagne in 2016
  2. Signifier: designed by Kris Sowersby and published through Klim Type Foundry in 2020