Verbatim, an original typeface
I was tasked with creating an original typeface based off the personality of a Newhouse professor as part of my sophomore year typographic design class. This semester-long project was definitely one of the most challenging I've been assigned and taught me a new appreciation of type design. See my experience with creating Verbatim below.
Sketches and inspiration
I met with my muse, Professor Steve Davis, several times before sketching my typeface. We had a handful of meetings and I also sat in on one of his reporting classes. He's the head of Newhouse's Newspaper and Online Journalism department and worked at USA Today for many years. Another characteristic of Prof. Davis' that intrigued me was his great sense of humor, mostly because it was a bit unexpected. All these factors led me to want to create a typeface that felt slightly old-fashioned – with minimal frills – while still looking friendly.
I used Glyphs Mini to create every letterform. I started with the lowercase letters, then moved to uppercase, punctuation, numbers and other glyphs. I constantly struggled with deciding on the typeface's main stroke width. I wanted to use thinner strokes, but still wanted Verbatim to be relatively legible at smaller sizes.
Getting to this final alphabet took three months. This project has made me hyper-aware of type design. I’ve caught myself staring at posters, billboards, even the bottle labels on my favorite iced tea, wondering: what was the inspiration behind those differentiating stroke widths? Why did the type designer choose that x-height? Why are those tittles square? A single letter’s design can convey a far greater meaning than the word it makes up. Type is all around us and I’m so grateful of this assignment for helping me appreciate the beautiful role it plays in our lives every day.
Sharp-witted and friendly, Prof. Davis is someone who speaks with care, slowly paces while he lectures and reads three newspapers every morning. Verbatim is just as thoughtful. Its letterforms stand tall and precise with minimal embellishment, its understated slab serifs anchoring each glyph to the page. Much like Prof. Davis, Verbatim is clever and effective without being intimidating. Its delicate nature makes it approachable, and many of its letters, most notably the lowercase e, b, p and uppercase B, feature an upwards slant that echos Prof. Davis’ cordiality. Verbatim’s name was chosen as an homage to the many decades Prof. Davis spent as a journalist. It describes his frank nature as well – what you see is what you get.