The Omnigraf Font Project is celebrating 200 years of drawing education in Oslo by designing a set of digital fonts, which are available for free download in connection with the anniversary celebrations in October 2018.
Founded in 1818 as the “Temporary Drawing School” (“Den midlertidige Tegneskole”), the Royal Art and Design School in Christiania received its official status in 1821. The school was an important representative of the Norwegian art and design culture, during an era of nation building. The Oslo National Academy Of The Arts (Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo) has its origin in the Statens Håndverks og Kunstindustriskole (SHKS), which was the school’s name for most of the 20th century. In 2018 the 200th anniversary of the school is celebrated with a number of artistic and cultural events, of which the Omnigraf Font Project is one example.
This project was conducted by Maziar Raein, Head of KHiO Letter Archive and lecturer to the MA Design Programme, Ane Thon Knutsen, Research Fellow at KHiO Design and Ellmer Stefan, independent Type Designer and lecturer at KHiO Design.
This jubilee project celebrates letterforms in their various manifestations; written, calligraphed, drawn and constructed. Researching the college archives has revealed a wide spectrum of activities ranging from free-form to technical drawing as practiced by artists, designers and architects attending the Drawing School, and later SHKS (Statens Håndverks- og Kunstindustriskole). It also showed the exceptional position of drawing between the ephemeral and the permanent. On the one hand, drawing represents an autonomous artform, whereas on the other hand it is often a subordinate service for higher purposes, as preliminary sketches or production drawings in design and architecture.
The design of letterforms had a fixed place in the curriculum of the “Tegneskolen” and its successors. Rather than focussing on a specific style or period of letter production, the Omnigraf Font Project reflects on the idea of drawing as exemplified by the art of lettering. The main question here was: what kind of drawing is lettering and how do these two (often separate) disciplines interact?
Three aspects formed the basis for these reflections: 1.) The role of gesture as the prime intention in drawing. 2.) The tools at hand and their inherent mark making qualities, ranging from pencil to digital vector. 3.) The alphabetic conventions as the underlying guidelines in the production of letterforms.
The dynamic interaction of these parameters is explored by a gradual succession from lettering to drawing in the various styles of the resulting fonts. Here, typography acts as a metaphor and represents the last consequence in the abstraction of alphabetic drawing; the mechanical manifestation of virtual tools and calligraphic gestures in oscillation with the underlying alphabetic convention. The resulting set of digital typefaces expands the notion of the typographic apparatus into a hyper-mechanical drawing tool. A basic alphabet with features of technical letter production (such as typewriting and stencilling) is permeated by various elements of gestural abstraction.
The release of these fonts to the public shares these reflections. Making these letterforms accessible shall furthermore emphasises the democratic nature of alphabetic drawing. The Omnigraf Font Project invites users and readers to playful interaction in both the digital and analogue.
The Omnigraf Font Collection consist of three familes emulating different stroke thicknesses of a virtual pen (the tool parameter).
Each family comes in five styles: these algorithmic abstractions are computer-aided distortions of the conventional letterforms, ranging from Regular to Non-Regular (the convention parameter).
Furthermore, the collection explores stylistic variation by the implementation of seven lowercase and two uppercase alphabets accessible via OpenType Stylistic Sets. These gestural interventions are ranging from mechanical letter production — such as typewriter, stencil and architectual lettering models— to free-form script letters (the gesture parameter).
The collection can be tested in the Omnigraf Drawing Lab or downloaded as Opentype fonts by clicking the button below.
The fonts available on this site are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. By downloading the fonts YOU (the licensee of the fonts) agree to use these fonts under the conditions stated at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
The fonts are delivered “as is” without warranty of any kind. The maker (Ellmer Stefan) is not liable for any damage (physical, financial or other) resulting from the use of the fonts. No technical or other support is provided by the maker!