Pitch Sans Design Information
5 February 2018
Pitch Sans emerged from my standard operating procedure. Previously I’ve talked about how I “experiment with my typefaces by adding or subtracting serifs”. I feel compelled to try this with every typeface; it’s like conceptual due diligence. Will the refined letters of one style supply the raw ingredients for another? Certain fonts are stoic, content to remain alone. Others more readily offer up details and structures that can be adapted. Good adaptations are paradoxical: they’re structural antonyms and aesthetic synonyms. Structure is easy to change, but an aesthetic is hard to translate.
Sans means “without”. So what did I get rid of? Pitch is technically a slab serif; the serifs were the first to be axed, though I kept them on the i, j, l and I to help fill the space. Next I castrated the ball terminals, and decided the residual stroke terminals should match the c, e and t. This preserved a visual link to Pitch and created a brutish, engineered tone suitable for monospaced fonts. The underlying skeleton for all letters remained the same except for the g, which needed a modified form to match its simplified siblings.
The flat angular brackets connecting the stems to the slabs are a defining detail of Pitch. Rather than discarding these brackets along with the slabs, I repurposed them as little flat bits (LFBs).
The LFBs were migrated from the slab brackets to the stroke joins, co-opting the traditional site of ink traps and optical correction to simulate ink spread. The LFBs were deployed wherever I thought a letterform needed them, subtly emphasising the mass at the joins — just enough to make it feel like Pitch. For me, contemporary typeface design is more about using aesthetic qualities to evoke an atmosphere rather than hard logic.
Gerard Unger speaks about his typeface bringing “more atmosphere to the page”. I am fascinated by the concept of typographic atmosphere — a real but subtle phenomenon. Pitch has a very specific feel, a synthesis of digital and analogue that evokes — not emulates — typewritten text. I’ve tried to capture the atmosphere of Pitch with Pitch Sans. The structure has changed but the aesthetic remains.
It’s Pitch, but sans.