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Grant Hutchinson's Match Preview

Justify Your Layer

Take one kern pair of individually talented characters occupying different code pages on the same OpenType planet. That’s one tangle of a typographic metaphor if ever there was one. Next, toss them into a creative Thunderdome where collaboration, unexpected plot twists, and smack talk are equally useful as both tools and weapons. Oh, this is going to be good.

Read between the leading and you should be able to extract a salient point. Typographers are still designers. They are influenced and formed by their environment, culture, personal experiences, and toolsets — just as much as any creative. These influences become unavoidably embedded in the work they produce. However, there is often an elusive, mysterious quality to typeface design that borders on the dark arts. There is also the quirky, jargon-laden language of type. Adjust your side-bearings. Recalculate that em-square. And for heaven sake, please place your nodes at the extrema. Such talk may imply that type design is for the privileged few. There have even been rumours circulating that strange, undulating devices known as ‘French Curves’ are still in use, being applied to blank sheets of paper in the hope of enticing new characters to appear, as if by magic, upon its surface...

It’s nothing like that, I assure you.

This is the first time that two accomplished typographers have competed head-to-head and layer-by-layer in a match. Although Peter Bruhn in Malmö, Sweden and Mark Simonson in Saint Paul, Minnesota are separated by nearly half a planet, they share a similar, clean typographic aesthetic. Techniques may differ, unfamiliar tools may be employed, but the fundamentals are as sound as an extra bold slab serif. Surely their decision to throw a little FontLab into the mix will be liberating, exhilarating, and quite possibly, exasperating for both parties.

Ok boys, get your glyph on.


Peter Bruhn

Peter designs distinctive typefaces and runs the Fountain type foundry from the top floor of a turn of the century building in Malmö, Sweden. He readily admits to being “obsessed” with typography and enjoys browsing through second-hand shops for vintage type catalogues and specimen books. When he’s not flexing his creative muscles, Peter enjoys cooking for his family, drinking wine, making music, watching movies, and reading exhaustively ... which actually makes it sound like he’s retired.

Mark Simonson

Based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mark specializes in lettering and type design under the highly appropriate Mark Simonson Studio banner. He has designed dozens of popular commercial typefaces, but is also known for his pitch-perfect essays “The Scourge of Arial” and “Typecasting: The Use (and Misuse) of Period Typography in Movies.” A little known fact about Mark is that he’s also the proprietor of Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site.

Grant Hutchinson

Grant photographs suburbia, creates interfaces, parses fonts, noodles code, appreciates compunabula, and sweats the details in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys black coffee, low-bit electropop, vodka martinis, geometric sans serifs, Chuck Taylor hightops, Speyside single malts, juggling, and the smell of a freshly tarred roof. Grant was one of the founders of Veer and is currently head glyph monkey at Typostrophe.

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