New release: Winco

18 January, 2012  |   No comments

Winco family can be labelled a humanist sans-serif, but in spirit it is more closely related to that rather rare typeface category called ‘glyphic’ or ‘incise’. Glyphic faces occupy a place roughly half-way between seriffed renaissance book faces and sans-serifs. The classic examples are Optima (Hermann Zapf) and Albertus (Berthold Wolpe), with Pascal (José Mendoza) sometimes mentioned as a more calligraphically inspired cousin to Optima. Instead of serifs, these types have flared strokes, or, analysed the other way around, are tapered in the middle – they are characterized by what the Germans and Dutch call ‘Verjüngung/verjonging’, literally: rejuvenation.

This characteristic is generally seen as a reference to letters carved into stone or, in the case of Albertus, bronze. Hence the names ‘glyphic’ and ‘incise’. The proportions are generally humanist, i.e., closer related to those of oldstyle and renaissance book type than to the more mechanic construction of the industrial and geometric sans-serifs made popular by modernist graphic design.

While occupying a class of their own in most type categorizations, ‘incises’ seem an underrepresented genre when looking exclusively at printing types. Even in stone carving they can hardly be called the norm: straight-lined roman capitals and geometric solutions are at least as common. However, the balance is somewhat readjusted when taking into account the project-specific hand-lettering of the mid-20th century. Of the many individualist alphabets drawn for book covers and posters roughly between 1950 and 1965, a great many of them were calligraphically inspired letterforms with lively, tapered strokes, that could be labelled as ‘incises’. Their designers were based in Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and elsewhere; but their pedigree is essentially German and Austrian. In Holland and England a tradition of rather rigid, constructed lettershapes was loosened up and humanized by input from the German-speaking world. For instance, both Dutchman Boudewijn Ietswaart and British lettering artist Michael Harvey have stated that the post-1945 book jackets by Dutch-based German designer Helmut Salden were a crucial influence on their approach to lettering.

While conceiving Winco, Ramiro Espinoza studied the work of these masters of postwar book cover design. He also looked into German tradition of expressive printing types that had such a strong presence in the earliest decades of the 20th century – Espinoza mentions Arpke Antiqua and Globus Cursive as indirect influences on his new type family.

Having established a stylistic framework, Espinoza designed the typeface from scratch, independently from any existing piece of lettering. This allowed him to create an original, typographically consistent and versatile family in five weights, from Light to Ultra Black. Instead of taking cues from the details of any specific original, Espinoza worked with more abstract guidelines in mind: rhythm, angularity and calligraphic origin. This is specially noticeable In the italics, which are strongly calligraphic in nature. The step-by-step process has resulted in a typeface that successfully combines the high legibility and seriousness of a text face with the expressiveness, dynamism and subtle irreverence of the original hand-rendered alphabets.

Winco is a versatile family whose extreme weights – Light, Black and Ultra Black – make for striking headlines, while the middle weights work well in both display and text settings. Produced as CFF OpenType fonts, all weights come with small caps and multiple numeral sets, including superscript, subscript and fractions, alternate glyphs and ligatures, making Winco a typographically sophisticated family suitable for a wide range of editorial and corporate work.


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