reflection lecture 2

I was really intrigued by fat face fonts as I’ve never really learned about them before even though I’ve seen them in graphic artworks in the past.


What is a fat face typeface?

Fat Face type faces are often described as subsets of modern didone fonts but with exgaggerated weights and vertical stress. While they were invented as an offshoot of modern fonts, many designers have designed fat face versions of san serif fonts like Futura and Gothic.


Many fat face fonts are also ornamental as well as fat face fonts were designed to be used as a display type rather than a font for body copy.

The typeface was used in the new urban and industrial areas of London, created for the purpose of advertising it was used on posters and hoardings.




Characteristics of fat face

its key features are vertical stresses and hairline serifs, the structure of the typeface has thick main body, the ascenders, descenders,bowl etc. are thick in width, the serifs and connecting strokes are thin hairlines and bracketed.



Take a Modern style typeface, give its thicker strokes even more weight, triangulate some of those serifs, and you have a Fat Face. Bodoni is of course a Modern style type but, carrying all that extra weight, it’s a Fat Face. The Fat Face, then, is basically an Obese Didone.




History of Fat Face


The first truly fat roman typeface is believed to have been introduced by prominent London type founder Robert Thorne, in 1803.


Advent of advertising

This was a period of invention and discovery when Europe was experiencing an enormous expansion of trade and commerce and so the demand for print advertising increased. Job printers who formerly relied on printing books soon discovered new sources of commercial print work. Thorne responded to this new surge in advertising by designing his “improved printing types” expressly for short headlines on posters. His bold new, all caps fat face proved to be wildly successful and was largely responsible for altering the appearance of advertising in this era.




Robert Thorne’s death; Revival of Fatface

After Robert Thorne’s death, the Fann Street Foundry was put up for auction, and purchased by William Thorowgood in 1820. Under William Thorowgood, some of Thorne’s unpublished fonts were published post-humorously.

These fonts inspired almost every successful font foundry to issue their own revival of Thorne’s original fat face font. Eventually, italic, compressed, elongated, expanded, condensed as well as shaded cuts of fat face fonts were published.

By 1906, typefounders Stephenson Blake acquired the entire Fann Street Foundry holdings, and Thorne’s original fat faces were among them. It was nearly fifty years later, however, that Thorne was finally recut and renamed as Thorowgood.






20th Century Shift

A cultural shift towards modernism emerged and gained influence in all aspects of society. Nowhere was this move towards modernism more pronounced than in advertising, book design, and printed arts throughout most of the 20th century. Type foundries responded by releasing dozens of new styles of san serif fonts such as Bernhard GothicAgency GothicGill SansFutura, and News Gothic.


Futura Black


Gill Kayo




Sizable fat faces were no longer being used exclusively as bursts of attention-grabbing display headlines but were discreetly used as body copy, or as small, but readable design elements. By their very nature, they could be loud, flamboyant and conspicuous, or speak softly with restrained elegance.




Designers still create fat face type fonts with some fonts staying faithful to old designs while some mix in new ideas with fat face types of the past.