Back Story: Ragan’s fascination with Rudolph Ruzicka’s work compelled him to delve into the designer’s archives of unpublished drawings and correspondence, a research process that took several years. “I approached Study as the culmination of a project Ruzicka started,” says Ragan, “adapting it as he would have to modern typography and technology. Since I was working from only a limited hand-painted alphabet, taking a deep dive into his life helped me find his authentic voice.”
The project progressed in fits and starts until Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin, partners at New York studio Original Champions of Design, contacted Ragan in 2017 to say that they were working on a new visual identity for Dartmouth College. Might he have any ideas for a typeface? It so happens that Ruzicka worked on several prominent lettering projects for Dartmouth, so in a perfect alignment of the planets, OCD commissioned Ragan to create a proprietary customized version of Study as a link to this heritage.
Why’s it called Study? The typeface was initially inspired by an alphabet in Ruzicka’s 1968 book, Studies in Type Design. Study also seems an apt moniker, given that the font was developed for use by a college.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? For the type family’s twelve styles, Ragan merged calligraphic details with a more formal typographic structure. A steady tension between soft outer shapes and angular counterforms lends the characters their humanity and charm. Dramatically varied angles and curves are eye-catching at large sizes, yet unobtrusive when sized for paragraph text. Study’s combination of quirks, such as the squared curves in the spine of the capital ‘S,’ the wide-eyed ‘e,’ and the muscular limbs of ‘k’ lend the letterforms a distinctly assertive personality. In the italic lowercase, fluid pen strokes provide a more pronounced sense of calligraphy in place of the roman’s rustic serifs.
What should I use it for? Study was designed for all of today’s applications: text and display, print and screen.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Ragan says, “I think it pairs well with an organic or humanist sans serif. It has a strong flavor, so I wouldn’t mix it with another serif face. But I’m always excited to see the unexpected ways other designers use and pair up my fonts.” For something newer than your go-to classic humanist sans serifs, try Sua from Fabio Haag.