For many Japanese designers, the cultural and historical nuances of Western typefaces can seem obscure, making choosing a typeface a daunting task. As a result, many Japanese designers stick with familiar favorites like Helvetica or Garamond, or grasp at decorative fonts that lose their flavor after a few bites.
This series was originally conceived for Japanese designers, to introduce well-crafted Western fonts and the contemporary designers behind them. In the end though, we enjoyed these interviews so much ourselves, we decided to publish them in the English too.
What was your inspiration for this typeface?
Amalia developed naturally from practice sessions writing with a pointed pen. Soon after, I designed the first, one-weight digital version, and then completed the family with three more weights and some final adjustments to the original design.
The typeface was named after my grandmother Amalia, who was extremely handy with a pointed pen and embroidered her sketches into table cloths.
Serif families usually have fewer weights than sans-serifs, but Amalia has four nicely unified weights. How did you go about designing the heavier weights?
For a text typeface, you really don’t need a lot of weights, but I wanted Amalia to also be used as a display face, thus the extra weights.
After designing a normal and bold weight, I used the software Superpolator by Erik van Blokland to create intermediate weights.
I started to use Superpolator during its early test stages a few years ago. Erik van Blokland was my teacher at the time, so I was very interested in using it in my work. During my design process, I was dealing with lot of variants like x-heights, stenciled, many weights and heights. Superpolator helps you manipulate all these things, so it was logical for me to use it.
Of course there’s always a need for fine tuning by hand, especially if some details change drastically from one extreme to the other, but these can easily be controlled by Superpolator.
Another important tool for me is prepolator by Tal Leming. This software prepares masters so they are compatible before you use Superpolator’s Robofab interpolation.
What are some of the ideal uses for Amalia?
Amalia is great for composing text like poetry and novels, but I’ve seen people use it for very different things like annual reports and CD covers. I’ve been quite happy to see it used in ways I never would.
Which single character do you love the most in Amalia?
This is a hard question, and I think I have an answer. I’m more interested in the small details. For example, the asymettrical, slightly curved serifs, add a liveliness, especially with the pointed pen, where details are already very playful.
Do you have a favorite typeface, or one that has influenced you the most?
Rather than a typeface, I think my surroundings have influenced me the most. I lived in The Hague and studied at the Royal Acadamy of Art (Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten) in the Type & Media post graduate program, where I learned from some amazing teachers and a great type history (both from The Hague and Netherlands).
The Hague, KABK and Type & Media are for sure amazing places to be if you are interested in typography, especially type design. Their great type history and teaching methods (Gerrit Noordzij must be mentioned here) from writing to stone carving to the most current digital tools make a complete circle for anyone who wants to become a professional type designer.
Amalia is available at OurType.
August 26, 2007