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The Festival of Type returns

In 2016, Type Network celebrated its first holiday season as a team with a cheery Festival of Type. We’re continuing the tradition this year, and we want you to join in the fun!

Here at Type Network, we have long been toying with the idea of making a card generator for special occasions; this fall, we finally buckled down and got serious about it. What could be better than dipping into our extensive type library and setting beautiful holiday messages in some of our favorite faces? Involving the community on top of it! We’re pretty pleased with the results, and it gives us great pleasure to share our holiday spirit with you. We would also like to take you on a little tour behind the scenes to give you a glimpse into our process.

We designed custom icons for the card generator to guide users through the steps of creating a card.

After churning through dozens of iterations, we came back to the simplest version of the card generator. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to choose a card and insert a custom message before sharing. To start with, for the layout, we devised a system of rules: every foundry had to be represented and featured in two cards—once in a display setting and once as a text face. (There’s only one exception to this rule. Can you spot it?) We didn’t want to make just one card per foundry—that would be too easy. Instead, we resolved to highlight how well the diverse typefaces across our catalog mix and match—much like our team, moreover. And, wow, did we ever have fun with it!

Every foundry is represented and featured in two cards—once as a display face and once as a text face. At left, Newlyn’s New Farm stars as the display face, with CSTM FontsKazimir Text in a supporting role; in the middle example, Newlyn resurfaces as the text face with New Hero, while Retype’s Krul takes the lead; at right, Retype’s Laski Sans accompanies Victoria Rushton’s exuberant Gautreaux.

Next, we came up with a bunch of messages and winnowed down the pool to our favorites. One consideration was language; even though Type Network is based in the United States, we are fortunate to have an international audience. Our foundry partners and staff also represent a broad range of languages and nationalities, so we decided to sprinkle in messages in Portuguese, Spanish, German, and French. We also broadened the focus of the messages from the New Year to more general affirmations of joy and peace—and, of course, Festivus.

We tested our favorite messages to determine which words looked better set in various display faces. We ended up with a few different options for each of the twenty cards. Once we had the display faces sorted, we moved on to finding the right text faces to pair with each greeting. We looked at how to balance weight and proportion among typefaces most effectively, and how letter shapes and design details relate to one another. We love seeing Gasket with Axia, Meno with Georgia Condensed, and BigCity with Nordvest. We love the power of these combinations so much, in fact, that—spoiler alert—we’ve already started exploring other matches for Valentine’s Day.

What makes for a good partnership? Combining Meno with Georgia Condensed had to do with proportions and narrower counterforms; when pairing Gasket with Axia, we looked at overall structure, terminals, and stem/curve connections; BigCity and Nordvest both have a funky, groovy, happy e—and that ear on the g is just the cherry on top.

The palette was our next concern. For many people, this holiday season is associated with winter and all that comes with it: snow, silent nights, holly, pine trees. But I’m originally from Brazil. I grew up surrounded by decorations featuring snow, polar bears, and a Santa Claus all bundled up for winter in the middle of a hot summer. Such decorations always felt extraordinarily disjunctive and disconnected from reality for me—as I imagine they do for many others in the Southern Hemisphere. With this in mind, we infused our palette with some vibrant colors alongside the more expected “traditional” ones. This holiday season is anything but gloomy!

Finally, it was time to hand off wireframes to Chris Lewis, who put all of the pieces together and made them work. In Slack and in GitHub, across multiple time zones, we tested, brainstormed, joked, laughed, wept, filed issues, squashed bugs, and joked some more. And then tested some more.

All of our projects represent a team effort, and this one was no different. Everyone in the Type Network family played a role: from our foundry partners, who designed the typefaces displayed on the cards; to the people on our quality assurance team, who made a list and checked it twice; to our content folks, who came up with the strategy underpinning the interface, graphics, and copy; to—last but certainly not least—our web wizard Chris Lewis.

We hope you will have as much fun sharing these cards as we had making them. Be sure to include the #FestivalofType hashtag in your posts so we can share in your holiday happiness! Even better, when you share your customized card, tag us @typenetwork, and use the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, you’ll automatically be in the running for a special gift from us.

Originally from São Paulo, Marina Chaccur is a type maker and rule breaker based in The Hague. A graduate of that city’s Type and Media Master program at the Royal Academy of Art, Marina exhibits, speaks, teaches workshops, and organizes conferences around the world. She works in marketing and editorial for Type Network, capably assisted by Oprah, the glamorous tuxedo cat who oversees her studio.