Back Story: Highsmith describes Occupant Oldstyle as the result of a long fermentation blending ingredients from Japanese Mincho style typefaces, rounded sans serifs, electronic music, and toys. The eclectic assortment of inspirational sources, unique as a fingerprint, comes together in a font that straddles categories: is it a serif, a slab serif, a typewriter style? No matter what you prefer to call it, Oldstyle brims with personality.
“I use sketchbooks to document things I observe, music I listen to, books I read, anything that interests me in that moment,” says the designer. “Everything gets mixed up together and combined in unplanned ways. Sometimes in that chaotic mix, I find ideas for new typefaces. The trick in every typeface is getting all the glyphs to look like they belong together. I focused on doing this mostly in the basic Latin character set and June Shin helped me by tackling the more challenging stuff like adding Greek and Cyrillic.”
Why’s it called Occupant Oldstyle? The serifs are simplified interpretations of the sort of serifs you find in an old-style typeface like Garamond. The structures also come from typefaces in that genre, especially in the italic. “Occupant and Oldstyle both start with O, so we just went with it,” Highsmith says.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The triangular serifs with the rounded endings, which Highsmith calls “child-safe” serifs: gently rounded and not dangerously spiky, contribute much of the distinct feel of the typeface. Besides owing a debt to Garamond Oldstyle, Occupant’s serifs contain an echo of Japanese Mincho typefaces in the small triangles nestled into the strokes. The Mincho style triangle, or uroko, harkens back to ink and brush calligraphy and represents the moment of pause allowing ink to pool slightly when the writer prepares to continue the stroke or completes it.
What should I use it for? It’s a text face, so…use it to typeset text for screen or print. Highsmith says, “I use it on my Kindle Paperwhite for reading novels and in my browser. I imagine it could be eye-catching in packaging and posters.”
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? It goes well with a humanist sans serif like Allium because both have open apertures. Create contrast by using it with a grotesque like Magmatic or Scout.