Role: Designer, Illustrator
Duration: 2 months (lower-case, no glyphs)
Target User: 2020+ Design Community
Villiers is a typeface that was created almost serendipitously. My wife came home one day with what seemed like 20 pounds of books from goodwill, and showed me she found this beautiful hardback book titled “Men, Ships, and the Sea” by author Alan Villiers and thought I’d be interested.
The sea has been one of those places that feels deeply embedded in my bones. My grandfather was a sailor and a fisherman, and I grew up visiting and exploring the Oregon Coast twice a year to visit my grandmother, being shown photos of his catches, or hearing tales of their trips. While I didn’t know anything about the book, I was instantly drawn to the type on the spine and the author. It had so many unique characteristics. The counters in the p and the d seemed to almost twist, and the s seemed hand done. It was sharp and clean but also had this quality and these quarks that felt very human.
It sat on the shelf for a long time. I knew I wanted to try to recreate it from the moment I saw it, but the task just seemed so daunting. I’ve created a typeface from scratch before, and I figured I could do it again, so while I found myself with more time at home during a world-wide epidemic, I began my journey.
Here, I scanned the spine, and tried to get the DNA as close as I could of the lower-case letters, and create as best as I could the remaining 17 characters. This is a work-in-progress and will continue to develop as I continue to obsessed over getting things right.
The e from “Men” further instructed me how to create the c and the c further instructed me how to balance and create the o. Building out type anatomy is really a dance from one letter to another. There’s a part of each letter that can inform the other, like a puzzle, so once it’s all complete it feels cohesive because it’s all a part of one of the other pieces.
Below, we can see how the anatomy of the m was developed from the overlapping of the n, and the b created from the o and the ascender from the h in “ship”. The o is really one of the trickier characters to really nail down and get feeling balanced.