Wild and Kinder Things

Every so often I stumble upon a typeface that draws a loud and cartoonish gasp of excitement from me. It’s the sort of typeface that happens to be so weird that I spend hours scanning each and every letter and it’s the sort where I’ll keep finding something new that jolts me awake as if I’ve drunk one too many pints of coffee.

Whilst I’m staring at this typeface all of its unexpected curves are teaching me something new. It’s teaching me all about graphical space and how to arrange it properly – how websites and books can be divided and then subdivided, how large blocks of text can best be shaped to attract and hold someone’s attention.

George Saunders once wrote that “it is possible for one’s gaze to become more loving” and I cannot think of a better way to describe how I feel when I see an unfamiliar typeface. It’s not just that I’m learning about typographic shapes and graphic design, I also feel that this level of curiosity is making me a better person in the long run somehow. I’m not entirely sure if that’s too cheesy but it’s certainly how I feel.

So this week I’ve been gasping aloud whenever I see Anouk in an open tab. This is a “reversed high contrast typeface designed to be used for titles at large sizes” and I’ve seen a lot of reverse contrast typefaces like this before – like Karloff Negative – but in my opinion there’s something different about Anouk.

Take a look at that A or G, the R, M or T! There’s a certain level of wonkiness but it’s graceful in the same degree. Everything happens to be so beautifully wrong about Anouk.

I think there’s something else that’s kind of wonderful about Anouk being on Future Fonts as well, although I’m finding it hard to describe precisely why. There’s a vulnerability of showing work that’s incomplete or half-finished – especially as type designers are notorious for their proclivity towards making things absolutely perfect.

But I love the idea that Anouk, as beautiful as it is to me, is unfinished and that it’s constantly being revised and improved. I like the idea that it’s getting better, slowly for sure, but there’s also a degree of kindness in this revision too.

In that article I mentioned earlier by Saunders, he also wrote that improving our work through constant revision is “ultimately about imagining that your reader is as humane, bright, witty, experienced and well intentioned as you, and that, to communicate intimately with her, you have to maintain the state, through revision, of generously imagining her.”

Of course I love that idea – of “generously imagining” the person that we’re making something for. And so I think this is why I adore Future Fonts in general and why I can’t seem to stop writing about it but it’s also why I appreciate this typeface in particular.

However, I also like Anouk because the K is just cute as all heck, too.