Some people will do the strangest things with type. Others will do so with food. And then there’s those who will do the strangest things combining type and food. Indeed it looks like the new student discipline of Font Karaoke is not limited to recreating typefaces with pencil and paper. Unzipped is proud – and honestly a little bemused as well – to present to you Snack Type, custom versions of Fred Smeijer’s FF Quadraat Italic made of … Pringles?
Meet Clio Chaffardon, 23 year old, native from the French Alpes, 4th year student at ésad, École Supérieure d’Art et de Design in Amiens, France, and currently doing an internship in Berlin at anschlaege. She’s impassioned by typography, with a soft spot for Dutch type (she hesitated between Dolly and Arnhem for her provisional page). The Snack Type project is her graduation project from last year; currently she’s trying herself at calligraphy in the hope to be able to create her own workhorse text face.
Snack Type originated in the topic of a two month course which consisted of choosing an everyday object and exploit its shapes to create letter forms. Clio thought long and hard, researching what had previously been done to avoid designing yet another modular typeface devoid of character. She reflected on the concept of shape and, after many experiments and failures, came up with the Pringle, the perfect potato chip with very regular measurements. It is what can be called a topological “minimal structure”, a model composed of inverted curves which create a very resistant surface.
Clio started by manually composing the alphabet with Pringles (Texas BBQ Sauce flavour – more colourful but also very fragrant…). The skeleton of FF Quadraat Italic which served as the basic structure for the letters posed far more problems than anticipated. Due to the equilibrium of the shape any attempt at having straight lines resolve into curves like the lowercase “f” for example proved to be a real nightmare. Nothing remained where it was supposed to stay, so first she practised at making single straight lines, then single curves. As soon as Clio determined that the balancing point was located at about 2/3 of the chips she finally could start on the alphabet.
Upon creating the lowercase, capitals, ligatures, and punctuation Clio realised that by digitising the characters they were subject to a subtle movement which was quite disagreeable and added nothing to the “chip” factor. This discovery made her decide to keep the photographs for the final specimen but to create a more regular font based on the aesthetic of the former. In an effort to remain more faithful she created nine different basic shapes, allowing her to handle the characters as precisely as possible. After she was done with the regular she wanted to introduce two distinctly different aesthetics, which is why there are two categories: Tidy and Messy. The former is rather subdued and orderly, while the latter is extravagant and disjointed. To achieve this Clio started with the regular and applied a movement as well as scaling to each of the letters according to the desired weight. Thus she derived ten different variations from the regular, some wilder than the others and intended for display use. Nothing was programmed; Adobe Illustrator wes her sole accomplice.
There still is some kerning to be handled in the heavier weights, but because this project was developed on a very tight deadline she expects to come back to additional tweaks later on. This is quite a surprising project, very serious and academic in all its goofiness, and the resulting fonts are brilliantly bewildering. A remarkable creation.