New Release: Six new widths of Graphik

RELEASES | 19 SEPTEMBER 2017
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The Regular weight in all 7 widths of Graphik.

Type designer Christian Schwartz has an enduring interest in the expressive possibilities found in plain typefaces. This stems from his early exposure to Modernist graphic design, particularly posters, from the mid-twentieth century. In addition to the powerful imagery, he naturally loves the typography, which is often bold, direct, and surprisingly plain.

    While much of twentieth century design was dominated by three iconic sans serifs from Europe: Helvetica, Univers, and Futura, Schwartz was drawn to the “B-list” of sans serifs, such as Plak, Folio, and Neuzeit Grotesk, which provided an initial inspiration for Graphik. “I wanted a typeface without the baggage of Univers and Helvetica; something that could be used in similar ways without only evoking Modernism.”

    Graphik was designed to be a blank slate; a “vanilla-flavored” typeface that is perfectly suited for whatever style of expression is needed. This purposeful, elegant plainness has allowed Graphik to move effortlessly between being central to the design or playing a supporting role in many successful editorial projects, as well as corporate branding, video and broadcast design, websites, apps, and user interfaces. 

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The original width of Graphik, released in 2009, is on the left in red.

Originally released in 2009, Graphik has since become a modern classic. From the beginning, Schwartz had a vision to build Graphik into a large, multi-width typeface system with a rational approach to the grid of widths and weights. Ten years later, and with assistance from Croatian designer Hrvoje Živčić, his plan is finally a reality.

 

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Graphik Light and Semibold
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Graphik Compact Semibold and Extralight Italic
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Graphik Condensed Medium and Thin
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Graphik X Condensed Light and Super
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Graphik XX Condensed Bold and Extralight
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Graphik XXX Condensed Regular Italic and Black Italic
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Graphik XXXX Condensed Bold

From Regular to XXXX Condensed

The original plan for Graphik included only regular, condensed, and extra condensed widths but that quickly changed. “At Commercial Type, we often push each other to take things too far, just to see what it will look like.” Schwartz was working on what he thought was the narrowest width of Graphik when fellow designer Abi Huynh challenged him to go further. “The XX Condensed was starting to work and then Abi said ‘Don’t you think this could be twice as narrow?’ and it actually worked!”

    “Often, going beyond the logical conclusion of an idea and finding out what happens is where things get interesting. ‘What if this went further? Has this gone too far yet? Why don’t we take it too far and find out?’ The XXXX Condensed is a good example of that.”

    The new widths of Graphik span from Compact to XXXX Condensed. To create such a large typographic system is no small task, but to build a system that doesn’t simply add styles for the sake of being a “super family” takes an assured precision. Much effort went into making sure the gaps between the widths and weights are meaningful, so the choice between them would not be ambiguous in use. Schwartz attempted to reduce the family as much as he could; the six new families proved to be the minimum he found useful.

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Even with the flat sides, the curves harmonize across all widths, giving a unified feeling to the entire colection.
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The terminals are relatively short, making for an open texture.

Keeping Warmth and Openness

In designing the condensed widths, Schwartz maintained the warmth and friendliness of Graphik by retaining the curved upper and lower sections of the characters, while elongating the straight sides. These consistent curves helps harmonize the system throughout the widths of Graphik as the characters become more condensed.

    Typically, a straight-sided sans serif will fill as much of the available space as possible, closing the forms in on themselves for a dense texture. In contrast, Graphik’s condensed widths feature open terminals that avoid coming together to fill up all of the white space in a character. This results in an openness in the text and a lively texture, rather than becoming a relentless series of verticals with the effect of looking like a barcode.

 

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The Sunday Times (London), redesigned by Esterson Associates in 2016, puts all seven widths of Graphik to use
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The Sunday Times, Sport section front
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The Sunday Times, sports scores
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The Sunday Times, Culture magazine feature spread
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Entertainment Weekly uses Graphik throughout
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T, The New York Times Style Magazine uses a customized version of Graphik XX Condensed
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T also uses Graphik XXX Condensed
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T uses Graphik X Condensed for headlines on the web.
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Project Projects used Graphik XXXX Condensed for this catalog accompanying a major show on contemporary art from the Arab world at the New Museum in New York.
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Graphik XXXX Condensed is matched with Publico in "Here and Elsewhere", designed by Project Projects
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RANE, a special section of IL (a supplement to an Italian business newspaper), used Graphik XXX and XXXX Condensed to great effect
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Creative director Francesco Franchi was inspired by Futurist publications in developing the bold graphic style.
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The Village Voice uses several widths of Graphik together with Lyon.
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As the Village Voice transitions to only publishing online, Graphik X Condensed, XX Condensed, and XXX Condensed give character.
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The Village Voice was redesigned by Pentagram, together with the internal design team.

Editorial Usage

After three years of periodically working on the expansion of Graphik, Condé Nast’s cooking and dining magazine Bon Appétit and iconic men’s magazine Esquire contacted Schwartz with similar needs: a condensed, straight-sided sans in multiple widths that could be used to set big headlines. “When they both came asking almost the same, specific question, we said: 'Oh boy, you have no idea! We’ve been working on something for years,’” says Schwartz.

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A feature spread in Esquire
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A front-of-book page in Esquire
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Various display treatments in Esquire
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Bon Appétit covers mixed Graphik with lettering
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Bon Appétit used Graphik at all scales and in all widths.
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Graphik Compact helped to keep recipes and ingredient lists clear and functional in Bon Appétit.
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Under creative director David Curcurito, the art department at Esquire pushed Graphik to the limit by using and abusing the type by photocopying, D.I.Y. stenciling, tracing quickly with a felt-tip marker, and even setting 3-D letterforms on fire. They tended to use the heavier weights in the range to create powerful, punchy headlines. “We’ve been surprised how well Graphik takes that abuse, maintains its integrity, and lends itself to those treatments” says Schwartz.

    In contrast, Alex Grossman and his team at Bon Appétit utilized Graphik’s narrower widths and lighter weights to bring style and sophistication to their layouts—especially with the intricate design challenge of recipes and ingredient lists.

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Wallpaper* used an early version of Graphik Compact to improve copyfit.

When design and architecture magazine Wallpaper* refreshed their look under creative director Meirion Pritchard, Graphik helped refocus attention on their images rather than flamboyant type treatments. The regular width wasn't efficient enough in text, so Schwartz designed Graphik Compact; which creates a balance between regular and condensed and doesn't appear overtly condensed in headlines.

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Graphik Compact Regular in text. Red line shows average line length of the same text in Graphik Regular.
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Graphik Regular, for comparison

Recommended Uses for Widths

With access to all of the widths and weights, Graphik creates opportunities for expression within a constrained environment but stays within a system that looks consistent. This allows designers to choose the tone and style of the content by choosing the width. The wider widths are comfortable playing a secondary role to the information, whereas the narrower widths allow for large sizes and an emphatic, even abstract voice.

 

Compact is all about efficiency in fitting copy. Use for both headlines and text without looking like the letterforms have been condensed or compacted.

 

Condensed is the all-purpose editorial, online, corporate design, wayfinding, and app typeface. It can also be used for text with some additional tracking.

 

X Condensed is effective for newspapers and can be used at a wide range of sizes. Great for headlines and in apps.

 

XX Condensed works for the biggest headlines in a newspaper and is expressive, but still eminently readable. It can also be used for general graphic design use such as book covers, signage, and magazine layouts.

 

XXX Condensed is best for “screamers” (an old British term for big, tabloid headlines) and feature spreads in magazines. It is all about big, expressive display type.

 

XXXX Condensed allows letterforms to be at the edge of readability. Perfect for posters, album covers, and places where the text takes on an abstract pattern and graphic visual form.

 

Text: Doug Wilson

ARABIC, RELEASES | 18 SEPTEMBER 2017

New Release: Graphik Arabic

Graphik has been expanded by Lebanese type designers Waël Morcos and Khajag Apelian to support the Arabic script. Rather than simply adapting the Latin forms, Graphik Arabic has adapted the idea of Graphik—a plain, all-purpose sans serif suited both to expressive display use and to extended reading.
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RELEASES | 23 NOVEMBER 2015

Cyrillic and Greek support added to Graphik

Graphik now supports Greek and a number of languages that use the Cyrilic alphabet, including Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Bulgarian, and Serbian. The Cyrillic was drawn by Ilya Ruderman, and the Greek was drawn by Panos Haratzopoulos.
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T, PUBLICATIONS, CUSTOM TYPEFACES | 13 APRIL 2014

Graphik Titling for T, the New York Times Style Magazine

A small addition to Graphik debuted in today's issue of T, the New York Times Style Magazine: Graphik Titling, based on the as-yet unreleased Condensed, X Condensed, and XX Condensed widths of Graphik.
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ESQUIRE, BON APPéTIT, PUBLICATIONS, CUSTOM TYPEFACES | 20 MAY 2011

New widths of Graphik for Esquire and Bon Appétit

Esquire and Bon Appétit have both redesigned, and both are using newly drawn condensed widths of Graphik.
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