Good Girl by Marion Bisserier

Name: Good Girl
Designer: Marion Bisserier
Foundry: Type Department
Release Date: July 2022

Back Story: We don’t often run ‘sequels’ of Type Tuesday, but we had to make an exception for Good Girl by designer Marion Bisserier thanks to its significant updates, and also the fact that we love it so much. We first covered Good Girl back in 2019, and dubbed it “typography’s retort to manspreading,” thanks to its deliciously expansive forms. The letters actively take up space, since the font was created as a response to the “visibility gap” in typography for women designers. As Bisserier pointed out at the time, visibility is crucial to encouraging people to pursue a career in certain fields, and so Good Girl “purposely occupies as much positive space as possible and can hardly remain unnoticed.” 

Bisserier had created the font as part of her degree course at UAL (University of the Arts London), but since her graduation in 2019, it had been “sitting quietly on my desktop,” she said. During those three years she’d gradually shifted her focus from personal projects to getting work in the industry, and is currently working as a designer at London-based Studio Nomad. “It’s felt to me as if things transitioned onto another in a blurry, slow-motion kind of way,” she said. “There were moments where I tried to juggle both studio work and my own, but I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons which only caused more frustration. After a few attempts to end the creative block, I decided to just give it a break.”

Good Girl by Marion Bisserier, sketches

Only recently did she start to feel inspired enough to get back into her own work and eventually picked up Good Girl in late February this year. The changes were largely informed by her gaining a “more holistic view on type” thanks to her years spent working in the design industry. She learned a lot working on the type foundry project for London-based studio Apfel, since it gave her the opportunity to collaborate with the font engineers from Alphabet in Berlin. “It struck me that a typeface is not just about creating a sexy specimen but more importantly, designing a tool for other people to use,” she says. “This means you need to pressure test it, consider different scenarios and investigate patterns in other languages than your own if you want it to be available for multiple countries. Once I processed these learnings and looked at my work with this new angle, I realized there was an opportunity to make Good Girl more user-friendly for the community that had supported my work and new users as well.”

The process of updating the font has helped Bisserier move away from taking a deadline-driven approach to her personal work, and has helped her enjoy “practicing without a definite ambition,” she said. Instead of trying to apply the mentality of a commercial studio, she decided to work at her own pace, knowing she was finished simply when she was happy with the project. “Maybe that’s why I had so much fun doing it and that’s something I want to feel more going forward with personal projects,” said Bisserier.

Good Girl by Marion Bisserier

Why’s it called Good Girl 2.0? As with its first release, the name is a joke, since the font’s loud, broad appearance takes up space and speaks for itself — unlike the traditionally diminutive ‘good girl.’  The font, and its name, look to reclaim ownership of condescending language — especially that directed at women. “The word ‘girl’ is so loaded in its infantilising usage, and at the same time paradoxically as an empowering term that women use for each other,” Bisserier told us in 2019. “So it was the perfect name for this typeface!”

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Good Girl 2.0 is still a big, bold, bubblegum-textured typeface, with its brash, chunky appearance drawing influence from ’70s display typography, Guerilla Girls prints, and protest art. The typeface uses small twenty-unit counters and narrow spacing, consistent throughout the family, which now comprises three weights (Regular, Condensed, and Extra Condensed) and a total of 220 glyphs. The compact, dense forms make Good Girl even more striking, as well as ensuring that it truly takes up space across printed and digital applications alike.

The 2022 updates are largely aimed at improving the usability of the typeface rather than any fundamental stylistic shifts, and the biggest improvement has been shortening the cap height, ascenders and descenders, “which not only feel more proportionate visually but also allow for a more comfortable, tighter leading,” said Bisserier. “The size and positioning of accents was quite a big thing too as I had made them too small in the original design. When I was working on the typeface Remnants at Apfel, we were building a glyph set for Latin Extended-A standard (essentially covering both Western and Eastern European languages) which meant I had to spend ages looking at different diacritics and understand their importance.”

Bisserier’s smaller changes include matching some curves “that were not quite identical and really should have been,” and giving “more love to some kerning pairs that were just waiting for me like neglected children.”

Good Girl by Marion Bisserier

What should I use it for? Since Good Girl is a resolutely display font, it works beautifully in larger titles (maybe for moving image or editorial, and for applications like posters — maybe even for protest graphics, in a callback to one of its influences. However, Bisserier has told us that “the point of Good Girl isn’t just to make feminist statements,” adding back in 2019 that she was quite taken with someone’s suggestion that it would work well as numbers on football kits. “I once received an email from someone who wanted to try out Good Girl for their sex toy brand and I thought that was amazing,” she adds.” It didn’t materialize sadly but I still have hope that one day Good Girl will appear on a vibrator packaging somewhere.”

What should I pair it with? “I wouldn’t want to give too many rules because I think part of my joy as a type designer is handing in a tool to people to play around with and being surprised by their creative solutions,” said Bisserier. However, she conceded that “Good Girl is that it’s not a neutral typeface, so pairing it with more delicate serif faces is a good way to achieve contrast.” We suggest a monospaced font like Lexia Mono by Dalton Maag, or Input Mono.

Good Girl by Marion Bisserier