Name: Remix Stencil
Designer: Ran Zheng
Foundry: Ran Design
Release Date: January 2022
Back Story: Designer Ran Zheng has called Remix Stencil “a typeface about life and feelings during COVID times”—as its counterforms cut away, negative space overtakes positive shapes to evoke the complex emotions that have been omnipresent since March 2020. “People are isolated by the disease,” Zheng says. “And it’s hard to communicate and make friends. But it’s also a good time to think about life and the future.”
For some, it has also been a great time to focus on passion projects—and that’s exactly what Zheng did when she began work on Remix Stencil in her off hours from Natasha Jen’s team at Pentagram. (Speaking of Jen, she calls the typeface powerful. “You feel the work upon seeing it,” she notes.)
Zheng’s interest in and understanding of formal contrasts goes back to high school, when she first studied art. “In traditional Chinese painting, whatever the composition, the images always contain white,” with negative space being what she calls “critical to the aesthetics of Chinese painting.” Negative space can represent air, sky, water, or even imagined space. “It contains the feeling, an idea, an interest and a style besides the atmosphere of the principal image.”
Since those formative days, she has continually looked to negative space in her work—and with Remix Stencil, form and counterform, positive and negative come together, with italic shapes fusing with a serif’s positive forms.
Why’s it called Remix Stencil? By taking two typeface styles—Roman and italic—and fusing them together, it’s all about reconstruction and rethinking; much like a remix in music, something new has been created. And while not necessarily a stencil typeface, it makes you reconsider what a stencil typeface could be. Zheng says the negative space of italic forms gives the impression of a stencil font and, granted, while not intended as a stencil typeface, it has that potential, as the name implies.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Remix Stencil is about inside and outside, shape and void, and it’s ultimately a love letter to type and type design with two type styles coming together for a “1+1=3” effect. Zheng immersed herself in the design process, analyzing and overlapping, punching and forming. Upright and forward-leaning, Remix Stencil’s painterly appearance is the result of italics cutting into each positive stroke.
What should I use it for? Remix Stencil’s tall x-height and large counters make it ideal for display text, and it’d function well at subhead sizes as well. But its real power comes into play when sized large, meaning really large, to see and appreciate the breakage in each letter, akin to waves tumbling onto the beach. Have a logotype or title with a lowercase ‘g’ or multiple instances of the letter? Remix Stencil’s unique double-story ‘g’ will get the job done.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? It works well with Sinkin Sans Narrow, whose strokes accent Remix Stencil’s delicate interruptions caused by its ghostly italics. When looking at Remix Stencil alongside Venarotta, two typefaces practically made for each other, you get an airy meets airy quality—less is more. Have a workhorse that needs some pizazz? Couple the dependable Taz from LucasFonts with Remix Stencil, and let the party begin.