Could your work use a little more sexy? Luckily for you, Neil Summerour (@positype), a type designer, lettering artist, calligrapher, and graphic designer in Georgia, has just revealed the latest courtesan in his harem of Lust typefaces: Lust Hedonist, a voluptuous new addition he describes as “a little Scotch Modern, a little Didone and Didot, a dominant dose of Caslon, and a pinch of Baskerville—all wrapped up in the leggy body of a Brazilian supermodel.” Ooh, we love a designer who isn’t afraid to talk fonty to us. We begged him to go on.
Typefaces with voluptuous strokes and curves have been around before. What were the visual influences for Lust? Pulp paperbacks? U&lc magazine from the ’70s? Blaxploitation posters like Foxy Brown?
Ha! First, let me say I’m not a pervert, but it’s so difficult to not equate the beautiful moves in a letterform to those of the body. There’s so much there to draw from and so much that appeals to creatives, it was hard not to use the name Lust. Many of the letterforms, especially those with the scooped teardrop, are how I tend to draw. And much of that was inspired by Herb Lubalin (so he deserves much of that credit).
The Lust family includes Didone (more contrast in stroke weights), Lust Script (grand flourishes like hair being tossed over a bare shoulder), and Lust Slim (very ’80s Madison Avenue). Lust Hedonist pushes the contrasts—when too much is still not enough! What are the most salient differences between all of these, and where do you see Hedonist fitting in?
I’m grinning. You basically “get” where I’m going with this concept. Hedonist is very much part of that. A few years ago, when I sketched out what I wanted to do with the Lust Series, I wanted to hit on various periods, various ways of thinking and teasing (typographically) with type. Hedonist intentionally exploits that overindulgence by conforming the letterforms to a much more rigid system than with the looser Lust siblings. It’s almost a contradiction, but “compliance brings pleasure” really does apply here. Tightening up the rules of construction yields something even more expressive.
I like how you caution users about the extreme sensitivity of Lust: “WARNING! I cannot stress this enough. Please know what you are getting into with this typeface. Like a supermodel, it can’t be squeezed into every situation. It needs room and size to breathe. The regular weights can support 36-point or higher settings, whereas the display weights shine above 72-point (preferably 100-point).” Was playing with dangerous extremes part of the fun of creating Lust?
Yes—what’s not fun about pushing it to the point of almost being caught? And what better way to caution people than to relate it to the vernacular? Ha! I’m often a victim of my own bad metaphors. Joking aside, I wanted these typefaces (and the letterforms that comprise them) to be indulgent and fun to work with. But that still comes with a bit of responsibility—on the user’s part and mine. Hedonist is no different (but it’s really fun to play with).
Where have you seen the other Lust members flaunting their largess in the real world?
My babies have won their share of beauty contests, but it’s insanely gratifying to see so many people purchase, use, and embrace the narrative behind the Lust series. It’s meant to be fun, it’s meant be indulgent, it’s meant to be seductive. People get that and are using it wisely, and I cannot thank creatives enough for using it just enough and letting it contribute to the typographic landscape.
What’s next for Lust? And for you?
Lust was conceived as a series and there are still two more definite iterations to be finalized (and possibly one more). A Skinny version and the Text versions are next, but I’ve been getting a lot of emails requesting a more expansive Lust Hedonist Script. Needless to say, I have a compulsive fear of ever being lazy. I always try to keep several typefaces in various stage of development. I actually have another thematic type series to introduce later this year and some other type goodies, but it’s a balancing act between the commission and public work. But for a quick plug, on May 16–17, Ale Paul and I will be offering a Tickling Béziers workshop in Tokyo.