Sunday, October 3, 2010

Meet Mrs. Eaves!

Here is my font for the next type project! I'm lucky enough that I snagged this super sexy font :) <check out this video>

Mrs. Eaves was designed by famous typeface designer, typographer and innovator, Zuzana Licko.  It was released in 1996, the same year as the opening of "Rent" on Broadway, the finding of a the new element copernicium and the raising of minimum wage to $5.15 and hour. She is the co-founder of Emigre, a magazine and now font gallery, together with her husband Rudy VanderLans. She is also the creator of original handmade ceramics and many inventive font families today. Licko was born in 1961 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia and emigrated to the U.S. in 1968. She studied architecture, photography and computer programming before taking a degree in graphic communications at the University of California at Berkeley. Being left-handed, she hated her calligraphy class, where she was forced to write with her right hand. She graduated with a degree in Graphic Communications from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984.
          Emigre Magazine was founded in 1984 and garnered much critical acclaim when it began to incorporate Licko's digital typeface designs created with the first generation of the Macintosh computer. This exposure of her typefaces in Emigre magazine led to the manufacture of Emigre Fonts, which Emigre now distributes as software, worldwide. Vanderlans was editor of the magazine, while Licko was responsible for many successful Emigre fonts. Mrs Eaves was Zuzana Licko’s first attempt at the design of a traditional typeface.  As a member of the vanguard of postmodern typography, and through Emigre the foundry and Emigre Magazine found herself on the forefront of type design in the late 80s and early 90s.
          Her father, a biomathematician, provided her with access to computers and the opportunity to design her first typeface, a Greek alphabet, for his personal use. Working with the newly invented Macintosh computer and a bitmap font tool, Licko began creating fonts for the magazine. Emperor, Oakland, and Emigré were designed to accommodate low-resolution printer output. They were used in issue two, and, after several readers inquired about their availability, she began running ads for them in issue three. In 1985, Licko and Vanderlans launched Emigré fonts to allow them to market their own typefaces and those of other young designers.
Licko's fonts are also evolving in reflection of the magazine's changing contents. After a variety of releases, including a set of pinwheel dingbats and a French-tickler version of Modula, she is putting her own spin on classical serifs with Mrs. Eaves and Filosofia, reinterpretations of Baskerville and Bodoni.
At first, her fonts were criticized by traditionalists and0 designers.  They attacked her for promulgating visual incoherence while her new typefaces were viewed as a threat to Modernist ideals and an affront to universal notions of beauty. Licko rejected standardized formats in favor of organic grid structures that reflected his enthusiasm toward the contents. "People read best what they read most" has become a credo for Licko and VanderLans and has been adopted as a rallying cry by designers eager to challenge preconceptions of type design and magazine layout. Licko's ascendance in a primarily male-dominated profession and her bypassing of traditional training have been an inspiration to a generation of font designers with access to computer technology.  Her and her husband both won American Institute for Graphic Art (AIGA) gold medals for their work in the world of typography and design.

Transitional, also known as modern transitional or baroque, style are serif typefaces formed in the late 17th century as "improved style". Only later was it named "transitional" (as a bridge between Old Style and Modern). They are among the most common, including such widespread typefaces as Times Roman. Transitional fonts fit somewhere in between moderns and old style fonts. Many of the transitional letterforms have the same kind of readability as the old styles. However, they are based on slightly later design. While a move in the direction of the moderns may be visible in these fonts, they are still much more subtle than the moderns. Serif fonts are a type of typeface characterized by small details in the form or tiny lines or hooks at the tops and bottoms of certain letters. These details are called serifs. The four types of serif fonts are old style, transitional, slab serif and modern. Serif fonts are considered somewhat better than sans serif fonts for body text. A common rule of thumb when selecting typography is to use a sans serif font for the header text and a serif font for the body text. They are considered to be a neutral font and work well for body text.
The late 17th century and early 18th was known as The Enlightenment, a time that was to sow the seeds of revolution in France, North America and beyond. The Age of the Enlightenment was marked by resistance to tradition, whether that be art, literature, philosophy, religion. But we stand in the cobbled streets of 17th century France; Louis XIV is on the throne and Jacques Jaugeon is working on what is now considered to be the first Transitional (or Neoclassical) style typeface, the Romain du Roi or King’s Roman, commissioned by Louis XIV for the Imprimerie Royale in 1692. The type designs were produced by a committee set up by the French Academy of Science. One of the committee members, Jacques Jaugeon, at that time better known as a maker of educational board games, in consultation with other members, produced the designs constructed on a 48×48 grid (2,304 squares). The designs, also known as the Paris Scientific Type, were engraved on copper by Louis Simmoneau, and then handed to the punch cutter Grandjean, who began cutting the type in 1698. Interestingly, Jaugeon also designed a complimentary sloping roman (often referred to today as an oblique) as an alternative to a true italic. However, Grandjean himself was to produce the italic from his own designs.
In 1758 Baskerville met Benjamin Franklin who returned to the US with some of Baskerville’s type, popularizing it through its adoption as one of the standard typefaces employed in federal government publishing. Franklin was a huge fan of Baskerville’s work, and in a letter to Baskerville (1760) he enthusiastically defends Baskerville’s types, recounting a discussion he had with an English gentleman who claimed that Baskerville’s ‘ultra-thin’ serifs and narrow strokes would blind its readers. Another notable character from this period in type history is Pierre Simon Fournier who developed the ‘point’ system. William Caslon is yet another notable figure, though his types were based on the Dutch Old Style; however, some modern interpretations of Caslon’s types would sit more comfortably in Transitional.
Transitional style shares some characteristics of Venetian Old Style. Whereas the earlier Humanist and Old Style types owed much to the handwritten letter form, the pen’s influence has all but disappeared in the Transitional types. There are three main characteristics that identify a typeface as transitional. The first being its vertical or almost vertical stress in the bowls of lowercase letters with the stress, like the minute-hand moving from the humanist axis to rationalist axis at 12 o’clock. This is most notable in letterforms like a lowercase "o". Another distinction of this classification is a greater contrast between thick and thin (sub-) strokes. From the Old Style low contrast in thick and thin strokes, Transitional fonts show much more contrast, especially in the legs of letters like M, W and N. Finally, this classification maintains generally more horizontal head serifs. For example, the head of the lowercase d has a smaller angle from the baseline than the Old Style fonts. Examples of Transitional fonts include traditional Baskerville, Times New Roman, Bell and Perpetua as well as the much more recent Mrs. Eaves.
Mrs Eaves, named for John Baskerville's lover, is a mildly stylized Baskerville revival known for its profusion of colorful ligatures and "petite caps", a unique variation on the theme of small caps. Mrs Eaves is a technical tour de force, formerly being accompanied by a program from LettError intended to help designers manage its unwieldy set of ligatures, and recently being converted to an overwhelmingly full-featured OpenType family by John Butler. Mrs Eaves was Zuzana Licko’s first attempt at the design of a traditional typeface. It was styled after Baskerville, the famous transitional serif typeface designed in 1757 by John Baskerville in Birmingham, England. Mrs Eaves, the revival of Baskerville, was named after Baskerville’s live in housekeeper, Sarah Eaves, whom he later married after the death of her husband.
The typeface family includes roman, italic, petite capitals, small capitals, bold, and roman and italic ligatures. Ligatures in all variants of Mrs Eaves include the standard fi, ffi, and fl ligatures, and resurrect the classic eighteenth century ct and st ligatures. A Just Ligatures variant, available in roman and italic, contain a vast array of new ligatures, many incorporating intertwined and swash characters. Identifying characters of this font family, similar to Baskerville's types, are the lowercase g with its open lower counter and swash-like ear. Both the roman and italic uppercase Q have a flowing swash-like tail. The uppercase C has serifs at top and bottom; there is no serif at the apex of the central junction in uppercase W; and the uppercase G has a sharp spur suggesting a vestigial serif.
One element of this font that gives it a unique feel is the slightly undersized lowercase letters. The measurement from the baseline to the top of lower case letters with no ascenders or descenders, is smaller in relationship to their upper case counterparts than many other fonts. Therefore, this must be taken into consideration when specifying font size and leading. For general use, 11.5pt with 12.5pt of leading, is recommended. In other typefaces, this setting may look large and crowded, but with Mrs Eaves it is still quite open, and sizing the font may take a little getting used to. Mrs Eaves has been criticized by typographers for its very loose and uneven spacing, and for having few kerning pairs. Mr Eaves is the often requested and finally finished sans-serif companion to Mrs Eaves, one of Emigre's classic typeface designs. Also, the WordPress logotype is set in Mrs Eaves. Bowdoin College also uses this font in the college wordmark and in many other official materials. This family was voted among I Love Typography's Favorite Fonts of 2009. “Reading text set in Mrs Eaves, I feel like I’m in a gracious home, where eloquence is permitted, gaffes are made endearing by their surroundings, and manners are observed without fussiness.” -Tom Biederbeck of Felt and Wire.

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 “Mrs Eaves” Identifont. September 30, 2010. <>
Tracy, Walter. Letters of Credit: A View of Type Design. London, G. Fraser: 1986
Updike, Daniel Berkley. Printing Types Their History, Forms and Use.  Dover Publications, Inc.:1980.

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