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Ivy crops up at Type Network

Named after the hedera symbol, or what Robert Bringhurst calls a “horticultural dingbat,” The Ivy Foundry offers a cool quartet of type designs from Denmark.

The Ivy Foundry, based in Aarhus, the second-largest city in Denmark, is owned and operated by Jan Maack. Like many of his contemporaries, Maack had no formal training in typeface design. In 1989, right out of high school, he took an apprenticeship at an advertising agency called A5 Marketing. This was the predigital era, when you had to be able to draw and visualize ideas to get anywhere professionally. Maack practiced a lot, kept on drawing, and soon realized that his main strengths lay in logo design and packaging. He also had a keen interest in typography; when not relying on Letraset’s dry rub-down Instant Lettering, he occasionally ventured into drawing letters with a Rotring Rapidograph pen.

A mid-1990s stint as a freelance illustrator turned out to be poorly timed as demand for illustration in advertising was dwindling. Maack took a job as an art director at Danish advertising agency NP/3. There, he worked under the tutelage of Jørgen Hjorting, a skilled creative director with a passion for typography. Hjorting introduced Maack to The New Guide to Identity, the book by internationally renowned branding company Wolff Olins. A whole new world opened up for Maack. The book inspired him to make a few trips to London to see how big brands were handled, and how choosing the right typeface is crucial to a brand’s identity. Maack managed to arrange some meetings with branding and design firms; in 1999, he visited strategic design agency 20.20, which had just launched Sainsbury’s new identity. He got an inside look at this major project—examining 20.20’s work for the well-known retailer and visiting stores—before taking many new insights back to Denmark. From that point on, type and identity became the primary focus of Maack’s design work.

IvyStyle
The neohumanist sans serif IvyStyle Sans and the friendly typewriter-style slab serif IvyStyle TW can each be used independently or as an editorial system of coordinated typefaces.

The next logical step for Maack was designing his own typefaces. In 2005, he was introduced to Fontographer by Kenn Munk, who already had a number of grunge typefaces under his belt. The following year, Maack took a FontLab course led by Trine Rask at the Danmarks Medie- og Journalisthøjskole. His humanist sans FF Speak was approved by FontFont’s Type Board that same year. Maack traveled to their Berlin offices, where Andreas Frohloff helped him finalize the fonts. “I really liked FontFont back then, and owe them a lot,” Maack said. He released several other designs with the then-independent foundry: FF Cube in 2008, FF Marselis in 2012, FF Marselis Slab 2013, and, finally, FF Marselis Serif in 2016. A high-profile usage of one of Maack’s designs was the Brussels International Airport’s adoption of FF Marselis as their institutional typeface.

IvyStyle
IvyStyle Sans and IvyStyle TW feature arrows, pointing hands, and fleurons in all upright and italic styles, with line widths that are consistent with the weight of each style.

In 2016, Maack had the opportunity to spend time launching his own independent foundry. He rented an office in Aarhus, built a website, and began developing new typefaces. He now balances his position at a branding firm with his role as type designer for his new foundry, an arrangement that is turning out to be quite successful.

While working to get the Ivy Foundry off the ground, Maack was casting about for an online sales platform to join. That’s when Type Network came onto the scene. It didn’t take Maack long to make a decision: “I have great respect for Font Bureau and their history. From the get-go, I was very impressed by the excellent foundry partners that made up the Type Network roster, and by the talented, competent people behind the scenes.”

IvyJournal
IvyJournal was originally intended to be part of the IvyStyle family, but as the design progressed it took on a life of its own and became a standalone workhorse serif face, a welcome alternative to overused text faces.

Ivy joins Type Network with a duo of matching typefaces, a workhorse serif, and a fun one-off. FF Marselis had already demonstrated that Maack could master superfamilies, and now he introduces IvyStyle, a type system currently consisting of two families with coordinated yet distinct flavors. IvyStyle Sans is the sans serif component, a Scandinavian design reminiscent of the classic American Gothics. With open apertures and clean lines, the slightly narrow neohumanist letterforms abandon geometric rigidity in favor of improved reading comfort. The five weights and their italics offer extensive language support and advanced typographic features. Its serif counterpart is IvyStyle TW, a friendly slab serif with ball terminals. Unlike the typewriter faces it takes its cues from, IvyStyle TW is a proportional design with a large number of weights. The result is a distinctive text face with a wide expressive range. In combination, IvyStyle Sans and IvyStyle TW make up a formidable typographic solution for a variety of publishing needs, from editorial design to advertising, packaging, and corporate branding.

Swing King
Erik Sørensen illustration style is given typographic form with SwingKing, a fun and irreverent casual sans complete with dozens of icons and symbols.

IvyJournal premieres exclusively on Type Network. This transitional serif face is loosely based on both the seminal Roman inscriptional capitals and classic movable type in the vein of Bembo, Baskerville, and Times New Roman. With a large x-height, moderate contrast, and only a faintly inclined axis, IvyJournal is a strictly rational contemporary serif built for nimble, easy reading. The italics have a slightly more calligraphic look that beautifully complements the roman styles. The result is a multifunctional, elegant alternative to overused text faces that feels equally at home in a book or magazine, or in an office environment.

Swing King is a casual sans serif created in collaboration with Danish illustrator Erik Sørensen. Throughout his decades-long career, Sørensen always had a hard time finding the right typographic voice to complement his drawings. He teamed up with Maack to produce a useful typeface that was neither cartoonish nor handwritten, but a joyful illustrated font imbued with the warmth and charm of his drawings. As the project evolved, Sørensen and Maack added a plethora of unique signs and symbols in Sørensen’s recognizable style to match the alphabet. Use it to lend a personable, quirky voice with humor to your text.

“The talented designers joining Type Network continue to impress,” said Type Network General Manager Paley Dreier. “Jan and his foundry are another welcome addition to our growing family!”

All Ivy Foundry fonts are available for print, web, applications, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days. To keep current with Ivy and other foundry partners, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.

The Type Network staff is climbing the walls.