As their names suggest Grist and Glue share an idea. Broadly that is making stencil letters using simple shapes.
Grist, as discussed in a previous blog post, was designed originally as a logo proposal for art-pop band Fischerspooner. It was one of a series of ideas exploring ways of taking an upper case serif font and making it ‘graphic’, so like a logo rather than a typeface. I tried this in various ways – by making the serifs thicker, or making the serif oversized and angular. These generally weren’t very successful.
The most successful version stripped out the thin stress of the typeface and added a circle as an occasional serif. This made a dotting effect when set as multiple words. This was presented, to be rejected and a more neutral serif typeface used in what became a very untypographic series of record sleeves (also discussed elsewhere and on alias.dj).
Having written the blog post and reminding myself about the project, I wanted to develop this serif stencil circle typeface further. As it happened during the Fischerspooner project and in a fit of enthusiasm I had drawn a complete A-Z.
What I liked about the idea originally was that the typeface was made up of these big, dramatic shapes, either the circle or bits of circle or these swashy triangles or rectangles. There were no small fussy shapes, so it could be cut out and used as a stencil. The serif was a useful connecting device and the letters were, generally, readable.
As I developed the character set rows of circles became diagonal lines or dashes, so accented characters, or currency, hash or @ signs (etc) became these codified, braille-like shapes. I enjoyed designing them. As a headline typeface they were free of at least some of the rigours of clarity, and able to rely on impact.
As I was designing these – particularly @, © – I noticed that I was removing the seriffy connecting swash and the characters were getting more simplified and abstract. It was or could be a separate idea, and I developed the typeface Glue from these.
It is more clearly a typeface from a limited set of graphic shapes. It is modular, but its grid forces the shapes to work fit together in non obvious ways making non obvious shapes. Its limited modular structure means that shape arrangements are recycled, with an A flipped to make a 7, or X flipped to make a Z – I’m rather proud of these typographic firsts, I suspect they’re my only ones.
So it is semi abstract, but readable. It expects the reader to try quite hard, expecting them to decide for themselves whether its design makes it worth the effort.
Grist and Glue are available from FontShop.