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Daniel Will-Harris' Favorite Display Faces

  • Anna-ITC - [Strong. Deco. What more do you want?]
  • BankGothic - [Squared off, all cap--like old bank stationery. Unusual, old-fashioned, and modern simultaneously (at the same time, too). A so-called expert on type who I have no respect for once publicly wondered why anyone would use this face. It just made me publicly wonder why anyone would listen to them. {Having a wonderful time. Stop}]
  • Beesknees-ITC - [Cute, cute, cute. Like a Panda it's so cute.]
  • Bernhard Fashion - [Want to be too thin and too rich? Look no further.]
  • Bernhard Modern - [White tie, top hat, tails. Reminds me of Fred Astaire.]
  • Bremen - [Big. Bold. Poster-like. Diamonds instead of cross-bars on the A, E, F and G. {Jewelry is like life insurance you can wear}]
  • Eaglefeather SmallCaps - [I was a fawning fan of Frank Lloyd Wright long before it was popular. I have all the books on him and never have I seen type that looks like this, which is supposedly based on his type for horror-meister Arch Obler's Eaglefeather Estate in Malibu (which was never completed--they lived in the gatehouse and were happy to do so as a FLW gatehouse is better than almost anyone else's mansion--see, I'm fawning again).

    So I was annoyed when I first saw this face, especially the lowercase and "casual" versions which are completely inauthentic and unlikable--now the designer--the same person who did Tekton, will probably write to me and complain--good, I welcome it--write me, complain!

    Erich Wilkinson. President, Large Wooden Badger Graphicworks emailed me to say "The original FLW lettering upon which this font is based was designed for Olive Hill, another Wright spectacular. Apparently the contemporary designers of the font felt "Olive Hill" didn't have that classic font name ambiance, but Arch Oboler Eaglefeather design in Malibu (of which only the gatekeeper's house was ever built) seemed to fit the bill."

    So while I still am not wild about the casual and lowercase, I do love the small cap version of the face--it's the typeface I originally used for Will-Harris House and all the blue-print initials--so maybe that makes up for it. If you want an even rougher and more hand-made craftsman-style script, use Judith Sutcliff's Greene & Greene. If you want something that has the clean sans serif grace of the type you see on some of his buildings, try Bernhard Gothic, from the DsgnHaus.

  • Eve - a.k.a. Lillith - [Another very elegant face, light, deco, subtle--David Rakowski (of Davy fame--he just won the Rome prize for composers, you know, and will be living the life of utter and complete luxury in a mansion in Rome--I doubt we'll be seeing any more fonts from him!) has several versions called Lillith, and an incredible version ornamented with flowers called Lillith Initials--you can get it through our own store room it's just wonderful.]
  • Fajita - [ImageClub's new face is very popular, and who wouldn't love a face where the weights are "Mild" and "Picante," and the font is as quirky and clever as this, rough and splattered and delicious.]
  • Harting - [Another Davy creation--this looks like old typewriter type with a worn-out ribbon. While the typewriter look is still hot, it won't be long before it looks incredible dated (I hope), but this face will always fill a need because it's so authentic looking--and it's more dramatic the bigger you use it.]
  • Herculanum - [Much as I loved Lithos when it came out--and frankly, it's still an amazing and wonderful face--it's been so overused that you might want to take a look at this less rigid but equally ancient-looking face. It doesn't have the carved-in-stone look that Lithos has, instead, it looks like someone drew it in the sand on some ancient "sun-kissed" (that's what Robin Leach calls all beaches) sand.]
  • Impact/ Helvetica-Inserat - [Not pretty, but strong. Everyone needs at least one of these condensed, ultra bold faces, they're just plain useful.]
  • JensenArabique - [I found an example of this unexecuted Gustav Jensen typeface in a type sample book from 1933, and Jason Castle lovingly digitized it with all it's rare and unusual curves intact. It's extremely original--so much so that you simply must see it:

  • Leaves - [Judith Sutcliff recently released this adorable typeface where the lowercase letters are reversed out of natural leaf shapes (each letter gets a different kind of leaf), while the uppercase characters are leaves with no letters in them. It's a clever idea, beautifully executed.]

  • Lucida-Handwriting - [Friendly, casual, but not sloppy. Controlled but not boring. Easy to read. A very clever and likable typeface.]
  • Motion - [Looks like it was drawn with a can of crazy string--or by a long photographic exposure of someone drawing letters in space with a flashlight. Scribbly, weird, interesting, fun.]
  • Poster- [Jonathan Macagba's condensed, bold face is strong and graphic and comes in a solid and inline version. It's very striking.]
  • RastaRattinFrattin - [Davy does it again, this one is what an Art Nouveau typeface would look like if you left it outside for a long time to weather and get rough around the edges. Kind of Benguiat-esque if carved artistically in a tree using a pen-knife]
  • Remedy - [Well, it's cute. Need I say more. It's getting overused (I was one of the first to overuse it in for the cover and headings in my book Dr. Daniel's Windows Diet, a fast cure for your Windows pains. Like someone very creative had doodled it on a kraft paper bookcover while they were bored during a lecture about sociology and were secretly thinking of a an environmentally conscious circus. ]
  • Spumoni - [Garrett Boge's charming little face just seems happy. It reminds me of some of the wonderful informal calligraphic writing from England in the 50's--and things like show posters. There are faces in a similar vein, such as Pixie, but Spumoni is, by far the most sophisticated of them because it manages to be cute without the slightest hint of cloying.]
  • Tenderleaf Caps - [David Rakowsi should have named this typeface after me. I suggested he digitize it. Instead, he named the "Nightline" face (you know, the one with the skyscraper letters) after me, which would have made sense years ago when I lived on the 11th floor overlooking the La Brea Tar Pits and Beverly Hills (in that order), but now that I live in the woods it makes no sense at all. Oh, about this face: It's fabulous, but so rustically ornate you may not even want to set an entire word in it. OK, you can set a whole word, but make it a short word. For drop-caps this face is to die for. But you don't have to die, you can probably find a ShareWare version of it (all proceeds going to the music department at Columbia), or a more complete commercial version of it at the major type vendors, such as FontHaus and Precision Type.]
  • Univers Extended, Zurich Extended - [If you're new to type you probably can't tell Univers from Helvetica. Of course, you probably can't tell Avant Garde or Gill Sans from Helvetica, either. But as you learn more about type and begin to see the things that make a typeface unique, you'll see that Univers is quite a beautiful way in a very spare, modernist way.

    It's like "modern" architecture. The original modernist architects, like Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, may have said that "less is more," but they also said that "God is in the details." Their original buildings, while spare, where beautifully detailed (and required expensive hand-made craftsmanship to look so simple and machine-made). These designs were copied, endlessly and badly, to create the many ugly boxes that clog skylines around the world. The point of this talk about architecture is that there's good modern architecture and bad copies. Univers is like good modern architecture, it's clean and spare, but it's details are careful and elegant. Univers is easy to read in smaller sizes, and exceptionally legible in larger sizes. Sometimes, try as I might to use something exotic, Univers (particularly the extended or wide variations) is so distinct (if not distinctive), so transparent (and clear), so simple--that I end up using it.

    I worry a bit that people who don't know anything about type will think I've used Helvetica, and I know people who copy my designs poorly will probably use Helvetica--but that's not the point. The point is that Univers is a beautiful modernist face that works, and that's the point of type, to work. {Seagram's Building}

  • Rennie Macintosh and Willow - [Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a brilliant Art Nouveau designer whose work was more geometric than most art-nouveau, so it may have been a pre-cursor to Art Deco. If all that means nothing to you, then you'll simply find Rennie Macintosh and Willow, from ITC, to be quaint and cute--especially some of the more eccentric characters like the lowercase "o" that's raised to the height of the caps by two dots, one on top of each other. This face is an accurate reproduction of Mackintosh's own style (unlike Agfa's Eaglefeather and Wright), so it can be used for period pieces, or whenever you want an eccentric, old-fashioned, but stylish and charming typeface.
  • Zeitgeist - [It was actually Zuzana Licko of Emigre who first came up with the idea of taking screen fonts and blowing them up, jaggies intact. Her early stair-stepped type was considered shocking, even though it's now it looks as much of a period piece as Willow. Zeitgeist, from Monotype, takes all this jaggyness to amusing extremes, with a "cameo" style (automatically reversed characters), and, my favorite, "Crazy Paving." People who don't tell me they get it and say it's like cross-stitching, and maybe it is. But it's also nutty and fun.

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    Copyright © 2000 Daniel Will-Harris,