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The Karloff typeface: Beauty and the Beast
Paper Boat Creative | October 11, 2012
As difficult as it is to define, we all have a sense of what beauty is when we see it. Typographers have long tinkered with the aesthetics of typefaces, adjusting serifs, proportions and font metrics. Of the most admired typefaces, the Bodoni and Didot families of fonts stand out.
But if it’s “standing out” from the crowd that a designer wants, then ugliness has a place, too. In this regard the Industrial Revolution era reverse contrast “Italian” typefaces are typical. Branded “degenerate” and “monstrous”, they have been dismissed as aberrations.
That is, until Peter Bil’ak decided to wed the Beauty and Beast typefaces to produce the Karloff, named after the mild-mannered British actor who so famously portrayed Frankenstein. Bil’ak, recognizing that the real difference between the two styles lay in the contrast between thick and thin, first designed two diametrically opposed fonts. He then combined the fonts, coming up with the low contrast Karloff Neutral, a result that he himself has called “surprising”.
Just as in the romantic fairy tale, the Beauty and the Beast do come together at last. See how it’s done at https://vimeo.com/typotheque/karloff
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Image from: Free Digital Downloads
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