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Sharp Type on expanding its flagship sans into a powerful but practical slab serif

Back in 2014 the MBR team at Pentagram New York decided to use Sharp Type’s Sharp Sans Display No.1, for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Lucas Sharp, the type foundry’s co-founder realised that if implemented in a campaign of its size, the typeface would need altering in order to be used by everyone, from designers to volunteers.

The following year, Lucas’ predictions about the typeface’s limitations became true as Hillary announced her presidential bid and the website began having font issues. Revisiting his initial idea of a re-work, Sharp Type evaluated its display font, its strengths and limitations. The redesign, which sees the typeface adopt a new identity known as Sharp Sans, was then donated to the campaign.

“Seeing it out in the world for a few years while going through a period of growth had led us to regard the design as improvable,” Sharp Type explains. “We had drawn a tightly spaced, Lubalinesque Geometric Sans that looked really good big. Now we wanted to draw a version with utility and versatility, that could work in any situation.” Originally designed to be “hyper tight” when used, the first iteration of the typeface would often need to be manually tracked out, an impractical, unwieldy design task to conduct under time constraints. It also needed to be used by those unable to optically size a typeface on a regular basis. Despite the designers’ evident confidence in the typeface, Sharp Type felt that its “limitations cannot be separated from its strengths,” and explain how “its highly geometric and tightly packed forms give it striking visual appeal but also limit its utility as an all-purpose font”.

The development of the display font into Sharp Sans began first by raising the x-height, opening up metrics, and lowercase form adaptions followed: “We opened up apertures, experimented with new constructions, and made subtle adjustments of weight and emphasis. Something we loved about the display style ended up finding new ways to rhyme and groove with the new lowercase,” the type foundry explains.

Another year later in 2016, Jennifer Kinnon of Original Champions of Design was introduced as design director of the campaign and enquired about the graphic identity introducing further iterations of the font, a slab serif and stencil version in particular. Another round of reworking ensued and another version, Sharp Slab, was born. Lucas and his team at Sharp Type developed a slab iteration by exaggerating “pinches at the terminals which increased its legibility at smaller sizes and also served to mitigate the increased density of texture that resulted from the addition of the thick slab-serifs,” the foundry explains. Designing Sharp Slab to have a consistent texture with Sharp Sans also added a new flair to its initial versions. “This feature originated as a technical adaption, but became a fundamental aspect of its joie de vivre,” says Sharp Type. “As the welling up of ink is only an issue in the darker weights, the lightest weights of Sharp Slab retain their nonlinearity almost entirely, giving the lighter end of the spectrum a distinctly modern feel.”

The result is a new iteration which joins the Sharp Sans typeface family. Available to be used separately or as a complementary pair, Sharp Sans and Sharp Slab are connected by texture and are both “optimised for a diverse range of optical sizes, ideally about 16pt,” highlights the foundry. “Although the genre is most commonly used correctly as a display font, Sharp Slab also works surprisingly well in caption and even limited text settings, an uncommon characteristic for a geometric slab.”

Sharp Type’s approach to modifying its original design goes against the grain of many other type designers. A one-size-fits-all mentality is not regularly applied to type design. However in a campaign of this size, a fool proof toolset necessary to communicate a tone, or a call to action. The foundry’s concept of designing a typeface for regular ease was not only ideal, but imperative to its success. In turn, Sharp Slab is robust and can perform “excellently in a wide range of optical sizes and applications,here.

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Nice-magazine-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Nice Magazine nurtures and honestly represents young talent from the African continent

“The European perception of the African continent is oftentimes awkwardly undifferentiated, almost as if it was one single country,” explains Sereina Rothenberger and David Schatz of graphic design studio Hammer. Alongside, Sereina’s sister Flurina Rothenberger, a photographer, the pair art direct Nice magazine in an attempt to present the diversity of the multiple realities in African cities.

Raoulgottschling-diefarbendesfarblosen-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-10list Work / Graphic Design Designer Raoul Gottschling on branding shape-shifting spaces and happy accidents

Raoul Gottschling is a creative through and through. As a child, the German-born, Brooklyn-based designer spent sports classes sketching football pitches rather than fulfilling his duties as goalkeeper. “At one point during my early teenage years my dad introduced me to Photoshop. I used it to design a logo and a bunch of (extremely sick!) graphics for my skate crew. I did my first internship in a design studio in Cologne at 14 years old. I must have made my career choice around my 15th birthday and haven’t looked back since,” Raoul tells It’s Nice That. 


Johanna-burai-graphic-design-itsnicethat-2 Work / Graphic Design Graphic designer Johanna Burai's work is as critical and politically charged as ever

“My work is constantly evolving,” Stockholm-based designer Joanna Burai tells It’s Nice That, “it’s kind of hard to say in terms of pure form because my designs have always been so varied.” When we first spoke to Johanna back in 2016, it was the “jack of all trades and master of all” qualities demonstrated in her portfolio that impressed us so much, and which continue to today.

Mikeyjoyce-daisy-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Dive into Mikey Joyce's portfolio with its “healthy balance of calculated and convoluted silliness"

The portfolio of Mikey Joyce shows how sometimes, not following the traditional route into graphic design can provide a more eclectic output. With just an Instagram account displaying his design flair, Mikey’s work jumps between the silly and the serious as he nestles his way into the design world, adopting the title of a designer, creative director and artist.

Swindled Work / Graphic Design Superimpose Studio on the impact of Brexit on the creative industries

Swindled. It’s one simple word, but one which sparked an entire movement for Services Unknown, a platform run by London’s Superimpose Studio that explores issues facing the creative industries. It’s latest campaign – #Swindled – aims to facilitate a new discussion around Brexit, seeking an outcome that works for everyone. Having originally conceived the campaign for anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, Superimpose Studio decided to produce #Swindled itself after momentum stalled. The studio’s creative director Ollie Olanipekun opens up to It’s Nice That about the independently funded national campaign and the wider implications of Brexit on the creative industries.

Sharptype-sharpslab-graphicdesign-itsnicethat-list Sponsored / Graphic Design Sharp Type on expanding its flagship sans into a powerful but practical slab serif

Back in 2014 the MBR team at Pentagram New York decided to use Sharp Type’s Sharp Sans Display No.1, for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Lucas Sharp, the type foundry’s co-founder realised that if implemented in a campaign of its size, the typeface would need altering in order to be used by everyone, from designers to volunteers.

Dasha-chuckrova-animation-itsnicethat-list Work / Animation Dasha Chuckhrova's hypnotic animation through air, water and space for Akwuar

Although set to the “psych pop” sounds of German musician Patrick Braun of Akwuar, it’s easy to imagine David Attenborough’s soothing tones narrating the journey of Dasha Chuckhrova’s latest animated music video. Created for Lone Love from Akwuar’s EP, the video follows a small, starfish-like creature, with a single blinking eye, on a non-stop voyage through an abstract world of purples, oranges and pinks.

Gottfried-angel-woman-on-boardwalk-in-brighton-beach-lglist Work / Photography The legacy of late NYC street photographer Arlene Gottfried

Crouched in a Manhattan storage unit, curator Daniel Cooney was wading through 50 years of work by late New York photographer Arlene Gottfried. With so much material – enough for 18 shows, he imagines – the “huge responsibility and huge privilege” of putting on the first show since Gottfried’s passing in the summer of 2017 felt very real. “I would just close my eyes and say, ‘Arelene, I need your help.’ I just tried to tune in on a very personal level and think, who is Arlene? Who was she to me?”

Nice-magazine-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Graphic Design Nice Magazine nurtures and honestly represents young talent from the African continent

“The European perception of the African continent is oftentimes awkwardly undifferentiated, almost as if it was one single country,” explains Sereina Rothenberger and David Schatz of graphic design studio Hammer. Alongside, Sereina’s sister Flurina Rothenberger, a photographer, the pair art direct Nice magazine in an attempt to present the diversity of the multiple realities in African cities.

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Raoul Gottschling is a creative through and through. As a child, the German-born, Brooklyn-based designer spent sports classes sketching football pitches rather than fulfilling his duties as goalkeeper. “At one point during my early teenage years my dad introduced me to Photoshop. I used it to design a logo and a bunch of (extremely sick!) graphics for my skate crew. I did my first internship in a design studio in Cologne at 14 years old. I must have made my career choice around my 15th birthday and haven’t looked back since,” Raoul tells It’s Nice That. 


8 Work / Art Judit Kristensen on the pace and vulnerability of her pencil portraits

“I like bad drawers, or I like when there are vulnerable elements in a drawing,” says artist Judit Kristensen. From Umeå in the north of Sweden but currently based in Copenhagen, Judit has tried to hang on to some of the less-than-perfect technical details from when she first started working in this style two years ago. “ I guess time has made me a better draftsman – for better and for worse. I prefer empathetic over perfection, and you cant really be voluntarily bad to make a drawing vulnerable. I think that would have an opposite effect.”

Kimjakobsento-squiresofthesquaretable-photography-itsnicethat-5list Work / Photography Kim Jakobsen To's honest and impeccably stylish photography

“I got interested in photography during my teenage years when I worked as a performance artist and DJ at various Norwegian goth and metal clubs. I would take pictures of my friends and the people I would meet,” photographer Kim Jakobsen To tells It’s Nice That. After completing a year of sociology and film-making at a Norwegian college, Kim enrolled in the Photography BA at UCA Farnham. There he studied under Anna Fox, Jason Evans and Gareth McConnel, all of which he says played an integral part in shaping his photographic language.

Johanna-burai-graphic-design-itsnicethat-2 Work / Graphic Design Graphic designer Johanna Burai's work is as critical and politically charged as ever

“My work is constantly evolving,” Stockholm-based designer Joanna Burai tells It’s Nice That, “it’s kind of hard to say in terms of pure form because my designs have always been so varied.” When we first spoke to Johanna back in 2016, it was the “jack of all trades and master of all” qualities demonstrated in her portfolio that impressed us so much, and which continue to today.

Alexandermedel-illustration-itsnicethat-02 Work / Illustration Alexander Medel took a year off illustration and design - but now he's back!

Alexander Medel, an illustrator masterful with pleasing curving shapes, is a creative we’ve shouted about countless times on It’s Nice That. However, we haven’t had the opportunity to shout about him for quite some time as Alexander’s been on an illustration sabbatical of sorts, but now, thankfully, he’s back with a bunch of personal work to share.

K_l_printlist Work / Art Artist Jesse Draxler on finding clarity through greyscale

“When I began working exclusively in greyscale is when everything seemed to start to make sense,” says artist and illustrator Jesse Draxler of his dark, brooding style that combines collaged photography and painting, manifesting in large-scale paintings or commissioned illustrations. “It’s as if by freeing my mind from having to think about colour I had gained a greater clarity for everything else, like when someone loses a sense their other senses heighten to compensate.” Jesse suspects that his preference for a black and white palette is informed by the fact he’s colour blind, or “colour deficient” as he calls it. “Though I don’t put too much weight behind just that.”

Ag_thehottestdaylist Work / Illustration Alessandra Genualdo's illustrations mix high fashion and intimate moments

With their pursed lips, rolling eyes and folded arms, you can almost hear the exasperated sighs of Alessandra Genualdo’s characters through the screen. Largely focussing on women, Alessandra is an expert at capturing the internal world of her subjects, whether they’re showing a moment of vulnerability, contemplation or distinct disapproval.

Angel-stempel-list-03 Work / Animation Heart Chakra by Angela Stempel comedically explores LA's crystal culture

“The seed of the idea for Heart Chakra came in the summer of 2015 when I went out to the desert for an art show,” explains Los Angeles-based animator, Angela Stempel. “At the event, there were two [separate] performance art pieces in which artists pulled out crystals from their vaginas.” Completely stunned that two artists had independently come up with this same idea – and fascinated by the allure and mysticism that surrounds them in her new home of L.A. – Angela decided to explore the concept for her graduation film from the Experimental Animation MFA at CalArts.

Swindled Work / Graphic Design Superimpose Studio on the impact of Brexit on the creative industries

Swindled. It’s one simple word, but one which sparked an entire movement for Services Unknown, a platform run by London’s Superimpose Studio that explores issues facing the creative industries. It’s latest campaign – #Swindled – aims to facilitate a new discussion around Brexit, seeking an outcome that works for everyone. Having originally conceived the campaign for anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, Superimpose Studio decided to produce #Swindled itself after momentum stalled. The studio’s creative director Ollie Olanipekun opens up to It’s Nice That about the independently funded national campaign and the wider implications of Brexit on the creative industries.

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