Undeka Typeface, a new contemporary font

It was a cold winter day and I was enjoying a cup of warm coco strapped in a fuzzy blanket, with my mac in my lap. Looking for fonts that like and would use in my next projects. After browsing for quite a long time I got a hunch that I could not find anything that I like and would use. Yes, you could say, what the hell is he on about, there are millions of fonts out there and so many great ones. Yes, I agree, completely, but there are always some details that bother me. Some are to wide, some are to fat, some are to stylish and some do not have a personality. So I thought that it would be awesome if it would be possible for me to create a font which would make me happy and outline the fundamentals i was looking for.

It’s not like it’s the first time for me to get myself involved in type design. Me and my friend Gatis had started our own type foundry — Wildtype a year before and had huge success with the first fonts we had made. One of them was Besom (made by me) the other Sunn by Gatis.

Why would you create a new font? There are millions of fonts out there and so many great ones. Yes, I agree, completely, but there are always some details about them that bother me.

Both were downloaded more than 20 00 times in the first months. So we knew we were on to something, and that we could not stop there. We worked on many fonts, but none that would be as solid, classical and clean cut as the one I had in my mind. Most of them were hand brushed. Knowing that the style worked, people liked them we continued to create many more.

Getting started got me thinking how i shall approach this, because a sans serif font has many ground rules that need to be considered in the development process. As anybody would do, I researched what the dictionary says about sans / sans serif. Wiki says “a sans-serifsans serifgothic, or simply sansletterform is one that does not have extending features called “serifs” at the end of strokes.” Quite precise, but this definition takes in action only the comparison to the Serif fonts. I gathered more examples of fonts and detail I like, one of them was Franklin Gothic and the News Gothic. The style of certain letters was very interesting.

Than I started to sketch ideas and capture detail that was interesting to me. letter endings, shapes, forms, styles, to get a vision of the feel and a personality I want to create with the Font. Later on the first stage was done and I new what the Type had to feel and stand for. It had to be simple, it had to be readable (well thats a must 🙂 and it had to have a personality to stand out from the massive crowd.

When I started to form the letter shapes I focused on getting them to feel as a singular family. As simple as possible, the simpler the better, the lighter. The width of the typeface was very important.

Undeka — Means eleven, for me that was the time in months needed to create the Typeface

My subjective view led me to think that most fonts are just to wide, the letters flow together smoothly but they don’t feel as beautiful as I want them to be, so I tried to create the letters a bit narrower, and making the gap between them slightly bigger, allowing the eye to flow naturally.

Since the font had to have a personality some letters got a personal touch. As for example the letter K and small cap k. They both form a unique pattern of structure, and overall height. The same goes for the g and G, both share unique details. The small g flows through the top o smoothly. And the big G points with the > to the next letter to ease the readability, they both lead the eye to the next letter.

After about a year of development I was pleased with the result. My efforts had led me to a Typeface that i could call a solid contemporary sans serif. The form of the type had changed of the the process and it now merged together into a singular unity. By the standards of typography books you could fault it every day. But that is missing the whole point. I did not set out to create another helvetica, the goal was to make something new, something that stands out and at the same time not. A typeface that has a personality and a view of the future. A personal vision of a modern and perspective typographical piece.

Get Undeka-Typeface

Maria Papaefstathiou

VISUAL DESIGNER since 1996 and blogger since 2010. Living in Athens, Greece. She has been focusing her research on poster design and particularly on social poster design and portrait design. Her main poster project is a series of posters celebrating great personalities of traditional and popular culture in Greece and Jamaica. These include actors, singers, musicians, poets etc. This is an ongoing project. “I believe that design is a powerful tool that we designers can use to spark enthusiasm, change mindsets and bring positive actions to our world and our culture”. FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF GRAPHICART-NEWS.COM BLOG. She carefully curates high-quality designs, illustrations, and art, from all over the world that will teach and provoke other designers. Many consider her blog to be an exceptional educational tool. CO-FOUNDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL REGGAE POSTER CONTEST which was launched on December 2011, partnering, the creative activist Michael Thompson aka Freestylee. (www.reggaepostercontest.com)