Archive for the ‘Shotype’ Category

Role: a super family with more than 200 typefaces.

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Role family has been released from Fontelier, a new marketplace operated by Morisawa.


I was commissioned by Morisawa in 2015 and joined this project until mid 2018 as one of type designers. Role has five styles as written in the description, then four styles, Serif, Sans, Slab and Soft except Script have been released this time. Details will be announced from Morisawa.

Matthew will talk about Role on June 15 at Typographics.

Type Renoir in Hong Kong

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Type Renoir in Hong Kong, is a type design talk session by international type designers, will be held on Sunday 14th October 2012 at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

An annual international typography and type design conference ATypI will be held in Hong Kong from 10th to 14th October for the first time in Asia. Japanese type designers and graphic designers will be there as a speaker. Julius Hui, was a freelance type designer based in Hong Kong at that moment and joined Dalton Maag last month, proposed that this must be a great chance to have an extra talk session with Japanese type designers to share each other’s design situation. Then the session has been planed and will be held after the ATypI conference. Julius organized all and arranged the international speakers with Keith Tam, a type designer and HKPolyU School of Design’s Assistant Professor, and made a lovely poster for the session.

Speakers are as followings:

佐々木愛 Ai Sasaki
秀英体開発室 Shueitai Development Department
大日本印刷株式会社 Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.

Amélie Bonet
Type Designer
Dalton Maag Ltd

秀親&塚田哲也 Hidechika & Tsukada Tetsuya
グラフィックデザイナー Graphic Designer
大日本タイポ組合 Dainippon Type Organization

両見英世 Hideyo Ryoken
タイプデザイナー Type Designer
タイププロジェクト株式会社 Type Project Inc.

譚智恆 Keith Tam
助理教授 Assistant Professor
香港理工大學設計學院 School of Design, The HKPolyU

岡野邦彦 Kunihiko Okano
タイプデザイナー Type Designer
Shotype Design

Paul Barnes & Christian Schwartz
Commercial Type

西塚涼子 Ryoko Nishizuka
シニアデザイナー Senior Designer
アドビシステムズ株式会社 Adobe Systems Co., Ltd.

羅小弟 Roman Wilhelm
Type Designer

岡澤慶秀 Yoshihide Okazawa
タイプデザイナー Type Designer
ヨコカク Yokokaku

Japanese members will be talking about their own works briefly. I also give a presentation about my typeface for the final project at Type Media master course of KABK (Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague Netherlands).

Type Renoir is a pop-up type and typography talk series hold by group of Japanese type designers in Tokyo since 2011. Type Renoir is named after Renoir cafe, is the popular reasonable cafe in Kanto region, mainly metropolitan area, providing the conference room that we usually use.

Facebook page is here.

Happy New Year 2012

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Happy New Year 2012! Here are my New Year’s card designs for 2012. Which did you get? 2012 is Dragon’s year in Japan (and some of Asian countries). Unfortunately I couldn’t send any New Year’s card last year since I was in the Netherlands and very busy working on the assignments of TypeMedia, so I’m glad I could send it again in this year.

I will turn 41 in May (hard to believe), so I’m plunging into a year called Yakudoshi in Japanese, which is believed that men turning 41 are likely to get an illness or misfortunes. So I got a special amulet to protect from misfortunes, but I don’t want to be afraid of plunging into Yakudoshi! I’m very excited.

Quintet has been released on Photo-Lettering

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

I’m very happy to announce that my own first retail typeface Quintet Script joins Photo-lettering Collection running by House Industries. This typeface was initially made for the Typeradio workshop, titled “Typographic Chinese Whispers” and was held in Feb. 2011, and restarted as the final project of TypeMedia 2010/2011 class at KABK in the Hague, the Netherlands. Quintet for Photo-lettering consists of a combination two exclusive weights (Violin and Cello) and one most heavier weight from the regular family to go well with Photo-lettering’s unique outline download service.

I hope you enjoy this typeface for your graphic, packaging or greeting card project. Its three layers create many colorful combinations or unique arrangement by applying emboss effect or metallic color or gilding to one of three layers. It must be also nice for a screen media such as a titling of video clips or web contents. You can get a lively titling image by applying animation effect to a stroke which looks like a double-stroke but consists of a single-stroke.

I also would like to release original five-layer design as an OpenType font, and now I’m preparing for releasing it but no schedule has been decided. If I’ve got a clear schedule or plan, I’ll disclose it here.

A brief report on the Zapf Exhibition.

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The strong typhoon Roke that I’d never experienced since I came to Tokyo had passed, the sky looks clear and I couldn’t believe it was a stormy yesterday but some branches of the tree along the side of the street were fallen, which was the evidence how the typhoon was strong.

The gallery is located in the embassy area nearby Roppongi, where is known as one of the most attractive area in Tokyo for the tourist. I visited there twice during the opening days and came there today to say good bye to the awesome works. I hope to see them again and wish to have a chance admiring them at some point. But I thought this might be the final chance as it is very rare to see Zapfs’ works.

This exhibition was organized by Japan Letter Arts Firum and Akira Kobayashi of Linotype. It contains nit only calligraphy works but also type design works. Regarding type design work, Linotype brought the correction sheet of The most impressive thing of works was that all works create spurb results by their awesome technique. The edge of the terminals had a tiny hook made by the broad nib pen, the crossing point of the strokes never had any chunky result. To reach this level, I couldn’t imagine how much I have to pay attention to every letter and the texture of the composition and keep training for a long time and work on the project with big love.

I realized (I’m afraid to say that) the digital version Diotima didn’t look so exciting to me compared with the letterpress version. The digital version seems to have less rich curves and spoiled something important feature while the letterpress has a beautiful hairline arches like the lowercase n and h looked really thin and beautiful. I don’t mean the digital technology is inferior than the letterpress technique. It might be that I just never knew that the letterpress quality enable to create rich curves.

I was very surprised to know that the metal plate of Das Blumen ABC by a carver August Rosenburger was not an engraved plate but a relief printing plate. I couldn’t believe that these thinner strokes was printed by the letterpress technique! It reminded me of the type engineering lecture I attended few weeks ago. I learned digital fonts are made not only by the type designer but also by the contribution and efforts of font engineers who usually don’t appear. For a freelance type designer like me, in most cases, we need to make everything from design sketches to generate an OpenType font by ourself, which means that we need to have skills to draw precise lines and clear knowledge on printing technique, in recent days, the knowledge on the screen device is also important. Das Blumen ABC was not accomplished without the collaboration work Hermann Zapf and Rosemburger and his craftsmanship. In the digital font era, we have to be a good type designer and also font engineer.

Akira Kobayashi mentioned on his blog that the reason why letterpress Diotima’s outline looks so soft. As I had the same feeling when I saw it yesterday, so I was trying to mention about that on my report. Of course I didn’t know the detail reason about it but I’m glad to clearly know that the digital version spoiled some design features. The outlines of the letterpress had irregular holes and cracks on purpose so that the lines can generate jaggy effect, which creates the soft line and beautiful composition texture. We used to think this technique should be avoided to apply for a digital version, otherwise, the data footprint will increase and it causes something printing error, even though we don’t care so much now since the OS and printer performance gradually improved. But I realized that the similar technique might be useful and helpful to avoid mechanical impression from the digital fonts.

I had to think that I was very lucky to see the show because the show was postponed due to the huge earthquake on 11th March in Tohoku region. The show was originally planned to be held around March. I’d been in the Netherlands at that moment, so I didn’t expect I would be able to visit the exhibition.

AXIS Latin Pro won a Good Design Award

Friday, October 1st, 2010

AXIS Font Latin Pro won a Good Design Award 2010. The design farm of this font, Type Project won the Good Design Award straight three years since AXIS Compact series got it in 2008. Driver’s Font, which was collaborated with Denso, also got it last year.

AXIS Latin Pro is the basically developed for Japanese font named AXIS Font in 2001 as a Latin portion. AXIS Font was designed by Isao Suzuki of Type Project. Suzuki was a former type designer of Adobe Japan and joined the design team that developed Kozuka family. He started AXIS Font project in 1998 for an exclusive font for AXIS magazine, is one of famous design magazines in Japan and mainly features architect, product and industry design. After he left Adobe Japan, he concentrated to make AXIS Font. After a while he started this project, he asked Akira Kobayashi, is now a type director of Linotype, to make Latin parts for this font. They developed this family, contains seven weights, for about three years, AXIS magazine started using this font when the magazine turned 20th anniversary and renovated its design format in 2001.

After AXIS magazine used it exclusively for about one and half years, AXIS Font was released in public in September 2003. It was widely used in several kinds of design field or a corporate use because of its high design quality. Apple Japan (Japanese character only), Mazda, Nintendo and some other major worldwide companies use AXIS Font for their corporate or branding images.

After AXIS Compact series released in 2008, AXIS Latin Pro was planed since the needs for multi language text setting are getting increase and widely required for the company and design farm which need to have communicate with customers and users across world.

After Akira Kobayashi left for Germany to join Linotype in 2003, Suzuki was looking for a new type designer who would be able to make Latin parts, then Kunihiko Okano joined Type Project in 2005 to make Latin part of AXIS Compact series, then continued to make AXIS Latin Pro family. After Okano left type Project in the end of 2007 and he started his design office called Shotype Design, he keep continue to make them and finally released in September 2009. To release this font as a Pro version, Okano developed Italic style, small caps, old style figures and specific characters, and compiled 36 styles, Roman & Italic, seven weights(UL, EL, L, R, M, B, H), three width variations (Basic, Condensed and Compressed), which create richly expressions and fulfill versatile typographic demands. Besides, more over than 700 characters supports 41 Latin alphabet languages across the world, so you can use them for the items, applications and medias which are available to use all over the world. This is the rare case, might be the first case, that the Latin part of the Japanese font released independently as a retail font.

AXIS Font exclusive dealer

Type Project: AXIS Font developer.

AXIS and AXIS Font are the trademarks of AXIS Inc.

Hiragino family joins the Morisawa Passport program

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I’ve got surprised news that Dainippon Screen Inc. announced that Hiragino font family, which is known as a Japanese font family bundled on MacOSX, will join the Morisawa passport program in the next update version in Autumn 2010. Not only Hiragino KakuGothic (Sans Serif), Mincho, MaruGothic (Round serif), also Yutsuki Kana series, Hiragino UD family, is a spin-offed version of Hiragino, will be bundled on the kit.

I was very surprised that news because Dainippon screen must be the last competitor to defeat Morisawa. The design quality of Hiragino products is brilliant, and Hiragino is bundled on Mac OSX and it generates much revenue to the company. So I believe there’s no worry that Dainippon Screen don’t have to use an annual license program although its variety of the fonts are less than the ones of Morisawa. Honestly speaking, I was a little bit disappointed that Dainippon Screen made a decision to join Marisawa program because every font maker should provide its products by itself. Besides, Morisawa is a competitor. I couldn’t believe Hiragino would join the rival program.

Most of Japanese major foundries recently started providing an annual font license program since Fontworks started Lets Program in 2004 for the first case in Japan. Morisawa followed to start the similar annual license program called Morisawa Passport in 2007, which has been welcomed by users and designers and getting increase its sales year by year. Then the other foundries, Iwata, TypeBank and Motoya started Lets program, and finally Dynacomware announced to start providing an annual license program called DynaSmart in the earlier this year. The reason why most of Japanese foundries plunged into the annual license program market, I guess the users seem to think it is very affordable and useful for getting several kind of typefaces at once despite paying the license fee every year. As you may know, typical Japanese typeface is very expensive compared with the Latin alphabet typefaces. It costs at least 10,000 per style, for example, the latest Morisawa passport contains more than 500 style typefaces and covers several kind of styles such as text, display, fancy, traditional and modern feelings, which is as much as a few million yen. Graphic designers must be happy to have them, then will be free from annoying consideration to buy new typefaces or asking their supervisor to get permission purchasing it.

I have to say the annual license program is very useful and helpful for users. From the point of type designers’ view, however, the royalty per typeface will be getting decrease as the contents is getting increase in the passport library. Do you think it must be a good business model for type designers? I doubt it. If Morisawa would not replace the contents along with the users’ demand or allow users choice the limited numbers of favorite fonts, the business model might be going to get the worse result at some point.

The Tiger year 2010.

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

2010 has come. In Japan, we generally exchange a New year’s card with friends, colleagues and relatives instead of a Christmas card. Here is my card. When we design a new year card, we use an image of animal to express new year, which is called Eto 干支. From mouse to wild boar, twelve kinds of animals are the members of Eto, which is also known for the Japanese ancient counting way not only years but also the day and time by using these twelve animals, which revolve every year one by one like Duodecimal. Tiger “寅:tora” is the symbol for 2010.

Left: My new year card in 2010. Right: I bought a white arrow when I went to first visit to Tomioka Hachiman Shrine. And a lovely tiger ceramic bell my brother gave me.

The later part of last year, I couldn’t provide any articles to update my blog. I don’t want to excuse it was because of the hard schedule. But as I concentrated on the type design project I joined, so some type design works were available by the end of last year.

Thanks to the people who interested in this blog, I could get some comments and email last year, which encouraged me a lot, and I found those who are interested in Japanese font and type design all over the worltd. I was glad to hear from all of them. I’m sure I’ll post topics related to Japanese type design and typography in 2010. I wish we meet again and hope to get your interests to this site. Thanks.

A short trip to celebrate the Centennial for Tomi-no-oka vineyard

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

At nine o’clock sharp, the JR Shinjuku station the Chuo line track 10, I got on the Limited Express Azusa #9 bound for Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture neighboring Tokyo, to join the event cerebrated the centennial anniversary of Tomi-no-oka vineyard by Suntory, beverage and liquor maker. As I designed a logotype for the vineyard’s centennial anniversary, I’ve been thinking to visit there during the centennial events would be held by the end of this year. The event I submitted included a tour in the winery and a special dinner with five Tomi-no-oka wines.

As the train approached Kofu, vineyards spread along with the track, Yamamashi is known for producing some kinds of fruits, especially Kofu, where is the land suitable for vineyard.

After arriving at the Kofu station, to waste a time until the tour would start, I came by Yamamashi Museum to see the Millet collection. Taking a lunch with Houtou noodles, famous as popular food for Yamanashi people, then returned to the Kofu station.

Getting on the shuttle bus to the vineyard, it took around twenty minutes, then the buildings in the winery covered with white wall appeared among the mountain. After an entrance procedure, the tour started with the guidance by Mr. Shounai, Brewery Manager.

As the tour started from the evening, all production line in the factory had already finished, we just went through the brewery facilities to see all rooms one by one and arrived at the wine cellar in the tunnel of the Tomi-no-oka hill. A hundreds of wine casks were laid quietly and waiting for bottling. The next room preserved the thousands of wine bottles waiting for the release date.

After watching the facilities, we got on the bus again and went to see the vineyard. The bus went through the forest, then the vineyards appeared in front of the bus. The vineyard spread on the southern slope on the hill with direct sunlight. From the top of the Tomi-no-oka hill, I could see the Kofu Bonchi Basin surrounded by high mountains called Minami Alps mountain chains, named after the Alps in Switzerland, but unfortunately, clouds covered Mt. Fuji.

Shounai allowed the tour members to bite grapes in the vineyard, known as Merlot for red wine, where would be harvested soon. “Wow! Delicious and Sweeeet!!” I didn’t expect the grape for wine is very delicious.

Then, evening twilight has come, the sky turns dark, the town lights in Kofu area started to lit up. The twilight dinner started and served beautiful and brilliant skilled dishes by the ingredients in Kofu with five Tomi-no-oka wines. We enjoyed the marriage with delicacies and wines. I was very glad to find the vineyard is excellent and fantastic place, and it was a great chance to work for the vineyard. To the next hundred years of Tomi-no-oka vineyard, Cheers!

Left: The bottle cerebrated the centennial anniversary for the Tomi-no-oka labeled with the logotype I made (Not for sale). Creative director of Suntory send me them after the tour. Right: The quarterly magazine published by Suntory titled “クォータリー: Quarterly” Vol.88 described the history of Tomi-no-oka vineyard.

The exhibition Tezuka Osamu ‘Messages to the Future’

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Tezuka Osamu (November 3, 1928 – February 9, 1989) has been the most celebrated cartoonist of the Shōwa era. He produced an unparalled number of remarkable works, contributing to give shape to what we commonly refer today as the “story manga”: Tetsuwan Atomu – literally “Mighty Atom” – known in English as Astro Boy, Janguru Taitei (Kimba the White Lion), Ribon no Kishi (Princess Knight), Black Jack, Hi no Tori (Phoenix) and many others, which had a huge impact on the child readers during the Showa era. This goes especially for Atom. Without Atom’s conception, we wouldn’t probably have had such a flourishing of animation and manga culture, as well as that confidence on science’s application, technology, of which we are witnessing such a development in the field of robotics today.

The exhibition, titled ‘Messages to the Future’, was a memorial of the 80th anniversary of Tezuka’s birth. It was very nice and I thought it was worth watching. It showed original artwork taken from Tezuka’s manga works, including some draft drawings, presented in chronological order.

Left: The Edo Tokyo Museum is located in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, nearby the Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall, a famous site in the Sumo wrestling field. The museum has a huge diorama built around the theme of the downtown urban life in the Edo period, around 300 years ago. It’s a fascinating way to get acquainted with the old Japanese citizens’ lives and customs. Right: A billboard of the Museum. The building in the background is the Ryogoku Kokugikan Hall.

The opening part of the exhibition features the insects’ sketches done by Tezuka in his childhood. His name Osamu 治虫 was taken from those insects, called ‘osamushi’ (in Japanese it means ‘Ground beetle’). He really loved to watch insects. Even the small sketches in his pocket notebook show the insects’ body depicted in a very detailed way. Later on, he added captions to all of the pictures and compiled them into a book.

The exhibition represented a rare chance to see his early works while he was a college student. The characters in the early works were very cute. I was not familiar with them but I was surprised to see how they looked to me like ‘prototypes’ of his later, more famous, characters. It did not just show his more famous works, such as Atom and Janguru Taitei, but many later works I was not familiar with, and unfinished material as well.

On various artwork panels it may be seen the white-outs painted to conceal mistakes and spots, and the lettering was often added later on, done on separate pieces of paper and sticked on them. By looking at the surface of the drawing paper, I felt like I could almost see how he drew the lines and refine them with the black ink. The ink was really vivid and the balance between black and white was always achieved with very beautiful results. This reminded me of the balance between forms and counters of the letter we seek in type design.

Tezuka’s mastery was not just about in his figurative drawings, but also in lettering, for which he had a fabulous talent. His vibrant title logos on the colored covers reached my imagination and enriched the story’s world. Of course, all of them were made by hand, without any computer aid. Angular logos were dynamic and powerful, they often seemed to express certain features of Atom and Janguru Taitei, of the characters themselves.

Another part depicted Tezuka’s own daily life, showing familiar everyday objects such as pens, ink, erasers, glasses and his coppola cap (widely known as his iconic trade mark), all of them showcased on the desk where he used to draw, and there were photos with his family and the related manga works. The exhibition chronicled also the history of his many residences and relocations. I know that the Tokiwa-sou apartment was in Toshima Ward, which is nearby my town. But, I was surprised to know that the Mushi Production office is very close to my home. It seems it’s just within five minutes by bike! My town, Nerima Ward, is known as a manga town because many cartoonists live in here, but I’d never have told Mushi Production was located so close to my home.

I think that the generation of japanese people most familiar with Tezuka’s works should be now at least in its 40s, or older. I used to watch Tezuka’s anime such as “Janguru Taitei Reo”, “Fushigi na Merumo-chan” or “Ribon no Kishi”, but all of them were re-broadcasted as replicas in my childhood. Unfortunately, I have hardly seen Tetsuwan Atom, because the series was old and black-and-white, and rarely reprogrammed. My generation (people which are now in their 30s) preferred to watch robot anime such as Gundam or Macross instead. Coming to manga, I loved to read Doraemon and Toriyama Akira’s manga, Dr. Slump and Dragonball. They were a huge success for children in those days.

However, Tezuka’s manga had a great influence on me. They taught me a lot of things which I couldn’t get in school. For example, although its visual language may be a little strong, Fushigina Merumo-chan featured sexual education notions, while Black Jack gave me a strong sense of professional duty, humanity and compassion. As a child, I got interested in Black Jack because I’d sometime got sick and was forced to stay in hospital. My illness was not so serious but these stories encouraged me a lot. Of course I’m fine now.

The catalog and post cards that I bought at the museum shop.

Tezuka’s work represented a tremendous influence on the following generations of cartoonists. This means that I have read a lot of the manga which were influenced, directly or indirectly, by the work of Tezuka. I guess the influence continues to be carried on today, to the latest cartoonist, and flourished as animation and manga culture, which can now be enjoyed by many people across the world. He left a thousand of ‘Messages to the Future’ through his works. I would say Tezuka Osamu must be regarded as the father of manga.

Revised on July 19, 2009.

— Gratitude. My Type Design Pen Pal Claudio Piccinini in Italy revised my poor English text after I posted it to my blog, and translated it to Italy for Italian Tezuka Aficionado’s website. Thanks Claudio! —