For the latest issue of Print, Jason Tselentis brought together a cadre of experts to find out what they believe are the best new typefaces of 2016. The chosen faces—which you can find in the Fall 2016 issue of Print—include Hoefler & Co.’s Operator, Grilli Type’s GT Eesti, Commercial Type’s Action Condensed, and eight others. Here, as an online exclusive to the issue, Tselentis presents seven honorable mentions.
To pull together this list, we contacted typographers and designers in the trenches, along with educators, writers and critics. The following contributed their thoughts and votes, trusting their eyes and personal tastes.
- Sean Adams, executive director, ArtCenter Graduate Graphic Design
- Jason Alejandro, designer and educator, art director at JK Design
- Alan and Amanda Altman, A3 Design
- Doug Bartow, principal and design director, id29
- Peter Biľak, Typotheque.com, Fontstand.com, WorksThatWork.com,
- Curtis Canham, author, A-holes: A Type Book, #yayforaholes
- Michèle Champagne, designer and founder of A-B-Z-TXT, a school for 21st-century typography
- Kevin Finn, founder and creative director, TheSumOf, founder of
- Kyle Gallant, designer and co-founder, Ligatures YYZ
- Mitch Goldstein, designer, assistant professor, Rochester Institute of Technology School of Design
- Alex Haigh, founder and creative director, HypeForType
- Allan Haley, writer and consulting typographer
- Indra Kupferschmid, typographer, professor of typography, HBKsaar
- Rob Mientjes, type designer, Tiny Type Co., designer of books, websites, apps
- Andrew Novialdi, graphic design and lettering artist
- Amy Papaelias, design educator, founding member, Alphabettes.org
- Mads Jakob Poulsen, creative director, Poulsen Projects
- Andy Pratt, executive creative director, Favorite Medium
- Theo Rosendorf, author, Typographic Desk Reference, creative director,
- Michael Stinson, creative director, TypeEd and Ramp Creative
- Scott Stowell, proprietor, Open, author, Design for People
- Ian Varrassi, associate creative director, MODE
- Terrance Weinzierl, type designer, Monotype
First, a disclaimer: The personal opinions expressed by this panel do not necessarily reflect those of their employers.
And now … the typography!
Designer: Roxane Gataud
Many experts gave Bely high marks, including Amy Papaelias, who wrote, “My favorite thing about Bely is, of course, the extreme display weight. It exudes an air of confidence, whimsy and sophistication that says, ‘IDGAF,’ although probably in French.”
Foundry: HvD Fonts
Designer: Christoph Koeberlin, with the creative input of Hannes von Döhren
Fabrikat might look like DIN, but experts noticed subtle differences that meant a lot. Mitch Goldstein saw it as “a rounder, friendlier, more approachable DIN,” and appreciated “the simple geometry and consistent strokes,” giving it “a calming, quiet quality that works especially well in the heavier weights.”
Foundry: Commercial Type
Designers: Paul Barnes & Christian Schwartz, with Stencil by Greg Gazdowicz
For Doug Bartow, Le Jeune was love at first sight. “I could spend hours just looking through the alternate characters and beautiful stencil weights.” Others were won over by its features, such as the small caps, as well as its overall utility.
Designer: Nina Stössinger
Nordvest challenges formal conventions by making verticals lighter than horizontals. Quirky? Perhaps, but it is unique and the end result is still functional, according to Amy Papaelias, who saw it as “refined enough to withstand a variety of text or display contexts.” Available in eight styles (four weights), designer Nina Stössinger wrote that the regular weights work well in running text while heavy weights are quite expressive.
Foundry: The Questa Project
Designers: Martin Majoor and Jos Buivenga
Questa Slab rounds out the Questa super font family that also includes Questa, Questa Sans and Questa Grande, comprising four families as of this writing. Questa Slab has its roots in Questa Sans, derived from the original Questa. The massive undertaking is still in development with a swash family and monospaced family coming soon. Jason Alejandro called Questa Slab “a true workhorse and an excellent choice for any designer looking for a suite of matching fonts.”
Foundry: Indian Type Foundry
Designer: Shiva Nallaperumal
Scott Stowell found Trench Slab similar to Bell Centennial and Retina, designed to work in difficult situations at small sizes. “The thing is, we don’t need to deal with those situations that much anymore, but now I want to deal with the shapes that came from them.”
Designer: Maria Doreuli
Theo Rosendorf called William Text “playfully Baroque,” and Amy Papaelias suggested that “with three optical sizes, it will perform well in small body copy or in larger display contexts,” making it suitable for a range of uses. It includes hundreds of ornaments, borders and symbols, and Cyrillic and Greek are coming soon.
How did we arrive at the lists here and in the magazine?
In round one, experts shared their own selections of the best faces released since January. They could be free fonts or paid fonts from any foundry, small or large. They could be brand new, a revival, an update or expansion, and for any use: functional or decorative, formal or casual. They could be workhorses, fun attention-getters, or carry extra weight for a variety of reasons, from their backstories to technological innovations.
The first list was compiled and broken down into categories. In round two a second group of experts ranked them in order of preference in each category. Points were assigned to each expert’s ranking using the Borda count method: x points went to a first choice, x–1 went to a second choice and x–2 to a third choice, and so forth. The process was repeated in a third round in which experts could have ties among typefaces or refrain from voting for one or more.
At the conclusion of judging, each typeface’s total score was calculated, and because of extreme differences—such as a typeface receiving both very high and very low ranking points—the median score was used instead of its average. A high median score put it at the top of its category, but those with a high number of abstentions—no votes—were removed.
A Competition For All Things Type & Handlettering
All too often, typography gets overlooked in larger design competitions—which is why we developed one that gives the artforms their full due and recognizes the best designers in each category. Whether you design your own typefaces, design type-centric pieces or create gorgeous handlettered projects, we want to see your work—and share it with our readers.
Enter today for a chance to be featured in Print magazine, receive a prize pack from MyDesignShop.com, and more.