Monday, November 5, 2012

The Designing of Simon Sans.

AFTER devouring "Designing Type" by Karen Cheng in a weekend's read, I decided it was finally time to roll up my sleeves and take a stab at creating my own typeface. Since this was my first foray into the world of designing letters, I opted to start with a more forgiving all-caps, sans serif display face.

For the longest time, I've wanted a typeface that was inspired by turn-of-the-century designs, like Venus, Monotype Grotesque, Franklin and Johnston, while re-introducing some of the idiosyncratic elements that often get polished out of modern characters. It tends to be difficult to distinguish type set in uppercase, so I created the letters with unique features: The I's and J's received short crossbars for easy identification; the G has a notched spur and the vestige of a serif; the capital U also got a spur; the K was treated with a classic two-stroke junction; the M has a very high vertex; even the Z was adorned with a slash. With regard to their width, I chose classical proportions with tall, slender R's and B's and letters with wide, open apertures. The numerals received a similar treatment: the 1 with a notched flag and serif base; a continental 7 with its European moustache; and a 0 with a diagonal slash.

Since I intended on using this for print, the final polish introduced a small ink-trap for congested corners, and I rounded off the sharp edges to introduce some warmth and create a letter-press effect. I designed two weightsa regular and a bold for different applicationsthough I still have some work left to even out the overall colour of the bold.

In the end, I named it Simon Sans after the lake situated just outside my studio: Lac Simon. With its vintage nautical signage, I figured that the word play of "Simon Says" / "Simon Sans" was rather appropriate. I've been smitten by the overall process, spending a week obsessing over tiny, incremental details, and nothing compares to finally loading it up in illustrator and typing combinations of words and sentences! The potential for personalized typefaces is one I'll continue to explore.

The Ampersand:


  1. Very cool. Now you have to tackle the ampersand!

  2. Lana, some very elegant and subtle notes.
    Cheers - Miles

  3. Cheers guys!

    Sean, I looked at plenty of ampersands and decided to reflect the origin of the glyph, the "Et", while keeping it consistent with the rest of the alphabet!