So here is the deal…I am feeling rather graphically minded this evening, so I have decided to do a blog post everyday on a different typeface. Each day I will go to the next typeface in my typography book, Typographic Specimens: The Great Typefaces by Philip Meggs and Rob Carter, and do a little blog post on the typeface and on feelings towards it in multiple aspects. There are a total of 38 typefaces in this book so this will be a 38 day venture and I hope people decide to join me in my quest for familiarizing oneself in the great typefaces. I decided to do this to keep my mind sharp in the ways of typography and design.
Okay here we go! The first face is a personal favorite, because of the name and look and feel of the body copy. Akzidenz-Grotesk was first introduced to me by my typography professor, Bruce Campbell, and the way he spoke it made the name even more German that it already was. It was first issued by the Berthold type foundry of Berlin in 1898. In England and America it was distributed under the name Standard, which, let’s be honest, sounds lame compared to Akzidenz-Grotesk. An interesting fact about the face is that it was never released in italics. It was used during the first decade of the century very often until the 1930s and 1940s when geometric sans-serif fonts were popular. But in the 1950s it again became widely used under the Swiss design movement. And lastly it inspired probably one of the most widely used sans-serif font, Helvetica.
Now let’s talk about the design of the typeface. Akzidenz-Grotesk has minimal changes in the stroke weight, the upper case A is cut off at the top making it flat, and the upper case G has a spur that comes down at the base. The lower case a and t have a curved serif at the foot and the x-height is bigger than most typefaces of its time. And lastly the ascenders and descenders are both on the shorter side. Personally I like this font, but only in body copy and in a few letters.
As body copy it looks best in 8 point with a little more tracking that normal. It also looks good in larger point sizes, but again I think having more than normal tracking make it look a lot better. Also with the tracking bigger than normal it creates an interesting and less distracting space around the words and between the lines. As far as overall size goes I think this typeface looks better smaller and in lower case. Although I think the upper case Q is great I don’t find the other upper case forms appealing. The most appealing letters are probably the lower case f and j because of the long thin forms with the a hook at one end. I also show favoritism towards modernist design, so I will tend to gravitate towards more simple forms.
The typeface doesn’t envoke any stong emotions or even give me a sense of any emotion at all, which makes sense since Helvetica is derived from this face. I personally like Akzidenz-Grostesk and I hope you do too. Comments are always welcome.