The Development of Jeames

Most of my work is born out of my love of the mid-century. I’m naturally drawn to something about the fulness of the geometry from that era. Everything is straight, geometric, but its most important feature is its fullness. It’s not just a circle you drag out in illustrator—it’s a circle that longs to be a square, bezier handles pushed to their extremes.

Eames era Herman Miller Chairs

Don’t even get me started on the contrast. So goofy, but so professional.

In a similar way, for the last two years I’ve become a real sign painting enthusiast. I love the patina that accompanies it, not for the flaws or texture but for the intangible affability. I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out how to create that with type. Out of a very large group of painter inspired fonts I’ve only released Kansas Casual.

One such I currently call Painter’s Slab.

Painter's Slab

And while I hate to be the guy who designs fonts that are inspired by chairs and paint patina—such is the life I have been given. After being nearly done with Painter’s Slab, I took a step back and started to wonder what a slab would look like with the sensibilities of the mid century. So I set to work trying to inject that high contrast, curvy, vibe into this goofy, sign painter’s slab. This is the birth of Jeames.

Because Painter’s Slab was already finished, I started digital, modifying the B, W, and other interesting letters. Contrary to the usual approach of starting with O and H, I wanted to see what would make Jeames special. But I pretty quickly realized that I needed to pull out the sketch book.

jeames-sketches

It didn’t take long before I had a good idea of what I wanted. I returned to Glyphs and built out the remaining alphabet, pulling inspiration from rational serif families like Baskerville and Harriet. By the end it really looked nothing like Painters, and mutating based on that skeleton was more work than it was worth. But overall I’m happy with where it put me mentally, and the product does have a little bit of that fun vibe I was looking for.

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