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Sea Ark Sheep is a curiously flexible font with very special Open Type random script features which can be only awake… read more
Sea Ark Sheep is a curiously flexible font with very special Open Type random script features which can be only awakened in DTP programs like AI, PS and the likes which fully support Open Type features. (Sorry our Font Generator on this website does not.)
The name of the font is an anagram derived from the word "Shakespeare." As such, the typeface borrows from the bold ornamental, typographic and decorative patterns and prints popular during the mid-16th Century, and its technically unique contextual OpenType features are meant to mimic the oral, not the written, art of speaking. This self-generating font possesses unpredictable behavior that yields inventive visual results.
Confused? Watch this trailer to learn how the contextual alternate functions work! (The trailer is also on our Vimeo channel.)
After graduating from Central Saint Martins, Simon Egli has been busy with numerous typographic and freelance design projects, including for MTV, TESS supermodel agency, and Studio Achermann. His work received honorable mentions by the Swiss Design Network and Art Directors Club Switzerland, and was awarded the first prize at the D&AD Student Awards Ceremony in London. Egli currently works and lives in London and in Zürich.
Can you talk about the story behind the font? What is the obsession with Shakespeare? Basically
Can you talk about the story behind the font? What is the obsession with Shakespeare? Basically everything started at Central St. Martins, where I met Stian. We were in the same course. We had this project on how to reinvent the poems of Shakespeare in our time. And we started thinking about type, because all Shakespeare stuff is written, not illustrated or painted. It’s basically about the spoken language, especially how Shakespeare is pronouncing his poems. We studied loads of recordings of his poems – you can get them on DVD and listen to them – for hours and hours. That was the initial task.
Do you think the font represents Shakespeare’s works?
The concept now is a bit different than the initial project. First, the idea was to get all the different frequencies and data of those spoken poems, then analyze those and transfer the data to type. We thought about how could we react to the spoken word without analyzing the sound of the speaker, so we don’t have to say anything to get the type. We just have to write it. And by writing this font, you get a similar feeling to as how it was conceived initially, but in a totally different way.
So you’re saying the act of writing the font resembles the act of writing by hand?
No, it’s not about writing by hand -- it’s about the spoken word. Writing with the font resembles the way in which one speaks.
We were first impressed by the Art Deco and pattern-qualities of the font. Can you describe the aesthetic properties?
All the elements the font is based on originated at the same time as the work of Shakespeare. We conducted a big research on all the same typographic, ornamental and decorative elements of printing techniques, like where you get these old fonts in the back of books. St. Martins had a really nice library of all these old books.
You can cut all of the letters into little pieces, into a single element, like a pixel font. They are made up of these specific elements, and all together, the font gives off quite a range of the time.
How do you expect Sea Ark Sheep to be applied today?
I don’t know. I’m curious about it, but we didn’t build it on purpose. I think one main issue is the size – it’s quite big – and also, how it was built. So you get all those tiny details from the ornament, and maybe the user will have the font quite big because then you will get the whole flavor of the font. Of course it will work really small as well, because it’s on such a tight roster for grids, it’s almost like a pixel font. Maybe someone will make a book with it, or print one letter on a wall of a house. But I don’t know.
One thing that sticks out is that it’s an open type font. What is it like to create a changing font?
It’s just one or two features of an open type font. The one special feature is the contextual alternate feature, which means you can change something by something else. Basically, this feature is highly used in Asian languages, like Hindi and Arabic as well. For example, if you have an “E” at the end of a word in Hindi, it will look a little different than an “E” in the middle of the word.
Sounds complicated. What were some of the challenges in working with this technology?
The feature is not very new, but hardly anyone has used it in the industry. All the scripts and the technology are on an experimental level. It’s hard to find someone who can teach this to you, so it was quite learning by doing and trying better and figure it out.
The most challenging thing was not to implement the feature, but in figuring out the complexity of how the feature will react to the written word. You can set up a few rules, like if someone’s going to write “A B C,” then C will change after B, and B after A. You get a chain reaction. You have to predict the written word and describe it in rules. So we had to think of how just a few rules could affect the whole appearance of the word in a way that we wanted to have it look.
At this point, it sounds like you’re dealing with the science of language and linguistics.
Was there one language you had in mind Can you talk about the story behind the font? What is the obsession with Shakespeare?
Basically everything started at Central St. Martins, where I met Stian. We were in the same course. We had this project on how to reinvent the poems of Shakespeare in our time. And we started thinking about type, because all Shakespeare stuff is written, not illustrated or painted. It’s basically about the spoken language, especially how Shakespeare is pronouncing his poems. We studied loads of recordings of his poems – you can get them on DVD and listen to them – for hours and hours. That was the initial task.