Rowton — With sans, italic and stencil options, Rowton is a humanist tool-kit for expressive typography
Rowton investigates the variety humanist-style type has to offer. It includes three distinct categories of letterforms. The first is an upright sans, which is joined by a sans italic and a series of seriffed stencil weights. Collecting fonts this disparate into a single family might seem unorthodox, but it emphasizes how effortlessly the different categories can be mixed in one layout. Rowton’s sans, italic and stencil each have six weights ranging from Hair through Black. The fonts are equipped to support all languages written in Europe with the Latin script. Additionally, Rowton has a complete character set for Vietnamese.
This family is inspired by the work of the artist, letterer, printer, stone-carver and type designer Eric Gill (1882–1940), whose full name was Arthur Eric Rowton Gill. You’ll notice his influence on the sans and italic styles most. Some Rowton source material came from Gill’s 1931 An Essay on Typography. Yet this only provided the impetus for our design – particularly its Hair and Hair Italic styles. Rowton’s final form represents a significant improvement over Gill’s lettering examples, which were not drawn to work in every conceivable character combination and type size. One element we kept was the expressiveness. No matter what one thinks about Gill’s letterforms, they are always lively and have a distinct accent. Just as an author might prefer that a certain actor record her book, Gill’s letters have a look that many people consider the best fit for their message.
Rowton’s stencil fonts are its most visually-striking element. These letterforms essentially have a different contrast system from the rest of the family, featuring greater differentiation between thick and thin strokes. The thin strokes are light and elegant. Like the lightest and heaviest of Rowton’s sans and italic weights, the stencil fonts are intended for display use. The sans and italic styles are more monolinear by comparison. Rowton’s humanist traits are most visible in these categories. Their mid-range weights function well in reading sizes. Most letters’ counters are large. Strokes end with terminals that are either horizontal or vertical cuts. The lowercase ‘l’ has an out-stroke in all sans and italic fonts. The sans fonts feature an ‘a’ with an out-stroke and two-story versions for ‘a’ and ‘g’. In Rowton’s italic, those letters have single-story forms. The italic ‘a’ has no out-stroke, but its ‘f’ and ‘ß’ descend.
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