Back Story: Designer Daniel Brokstad drew inspiration for Lucifer Sans from his Nordic heritage, crafting an alphabet of hard geometry and minimalistic shapes. The letterforms echo the cool, sleek Scandinavian design style that emerged in the early 20th century in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden and reached its peak of popularity during the 1950s. But this one’s got a twist: Brokstad was also influenced by Black Metal, the extreme style of heavy metal music that sprang up in Norway and Sweden during the 1980s and ’90s (and which drew upon the sounds of the ’70s band Motörhead and the growing punk music scene in the U.K., not to mention the corpse makeup worn by the American rockers of Kiss). Black Metal’s rapid tempos, 300 beat-per-minute drumming, shrieking vocals, and heavily distorted guitars are the sonic opposite of Scandinavian design’s calm visual simplicity. Lucifer Sans somehow manages to get these two disparate sources of inspiration to co-habitate in a single typeface.
Why’s it called Lucifer Sans? Much of Black Metal’s lyrics and imagery focus on anti-Christian, misanthropic, and Satanic themes. Invoking Hell’s chief demon is a no-brainer.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Some crazy stylistic set variations allow a wide range of options for designers to play with. “Since the font itself is a blend of two worlds, I wanted to expand the character sets in different directions from the standard set—one being more rounded and mellow, and one more hard and geometric,” says Brokstad.
Stylistic Set One features exceptionally sinuous and curly letterforms, while Set Two offers severe right-angled forms with barely a curve in sight. The lower case “i” and “j” flaunt perky diamond-shaped tittles and the standard set’s “K” is especially distinctive; one gracefully flared leg contrasts with its sharply angled mate.
What should I use it for? Anything at His Satanic Majesty’s request. Or, in the civilian world, type situations that beg for the sort of quirkiness in a sans-serif that makes readers sit up and take notice. In other words, places where Helvetica would feel like the uptight cousin you didn’t really want to invite to the party but your mother made you.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? “When it comes to pairing it with other fonts, Lucifer Sans Regular looks quite nice with a sleek font like Grilli Type’s GT Super Display Light Italic for bigger display uses, and GT Super Text Book Italic for smaller size text,” says Brokstad. For a more extreme Black Metal look, try pairing Lucifer Sans SemiCnd SemiBold with Sharp Type’s Respira Black, an updated blackletter perfect for fierce headlines. But the stylistic set options also make it simple to create a widely varied typographic look using only the Lucifer Sans family.