Our weekly look at a favorite new typeface. Share yours with us on Twitter @AIGAdesign and Instagram @AIGAeyeondesign with #TypeTuesday.
Back story: A healthy respect for type history coupled with a deep understanding of functionality went into this bespoke font for the Financial Times. The design brief was to produce a typeface for a sharper, more modern newspaper design that would show off the FT’s strengths in reporting, analysis, and visual journalism. A single comment made by design director Mark Leeds, who collaborated on the project along with Sowersby and Kevin Wilson, proved key to the typeface’s development. Leeds thought that—just maybe—exploring an alphabet of characters without ball terminals (traditional in newspaper fonts), might lead to an unexpected yet effective solution.
Once this clicked, Sowersby says, “I started scratching around for good models to fit the bill: something with decent proportions for newspaper text and headlines—without ball terminals—that could support a range of weights and would work well on digital screens. As a bonus, something with British heritage would be ideal.” Inspired by Eric Gill’s work, he quickly found a direction and roughed out both text and display cuts over a couple of days. Broadly speaking, Financier Text follows aesthetic cues from Solus and Joanna, and Financier Display nods to Perpetua.
Why’s it called Financier? These designers know their audience. The literal definition of a financier is “one who deals with finance and investment on a large scale.” Bingo.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Financier’s beautiful mix of inspirations and sources are expressed in subtle details, such as a lower x-height combined with slightly tallish ascenders, moving the typeface away from typical newspaper proportions towards something more sleek and refined. For maximum legibility in the harsh newspaper printing environment, Financier relies upon deep, sharp joins to control the spread of ink rather than on typical ink traps built into the characters. Since the FT (obviously) features numerals everywhere, they were seen from the outset as a vital part of the type design and evolved into sensitive updates of Gill’s distinctive flat-topped 3, lively 5, three-quarter-height old-style 2, and dramatically sweeping 6 and 9. “This is the first time I’ve made a typeface family with visually compatible rather than consistent text and display styles,” says Sowersby. “They feel like they belong together, rather than merely looking similar.” Nice!
What should I use it for? Financier is crafted to be so specific to news usage that it would be hard to use it gracefully in other content categories. That said, it’s a no-brainer for news-based publications across all media platforms—from the get-go, the letterforms were drawn to shine in both print and digital environments.
Who’s it friends with? It seems only logical to pair it with Gill Sans Nova, the 2015 update of Gill Sans from Monotype’s George Ryan.