Cyber/Cax Typeface
Scroll to the bottom to read about my notes, process, and concept behind creating this typeface, an 8-bit blackletter based on the work of William Caxton.






  

Gifs from I made for cybercax.tumblr.com :

     
   
   
  

Scans from my hand-bound magazine:







The Middle Ages in Europe officially ended in fourteen fifty three, with the Renaissance beginning to make strides starting in the century before. The Renaissance served as a bridge to the Age of Enlightenment which eventually led us to the modern age.
I wanted to see how digitizing a blackletter typeface by William Caxton could hold conceptual value as opposed to aesthetic. I wondered where in recent history we were also in a period of transition and discovery.

It happens that exactly five hundred years after the date of the type speciman by Caxton was the year nineteen eighty two. This year is noted as being the peak of arcade games, with home consoles on the rise, during the so-called golden age of video games. It was also the early period of personal computers, which the world was just beginning to explore. We were now living in the Digital Age.

I drew inspiration from the eight bit style that defined early arcade games. Combining eight bit and a particularly imperfect blackletter may seem like forcing together opposites. It created a challenge to maintain the spirit of the original but also give it new life. I discovered that blackletter and pixel type had more connections than one might assume. Both served as first iterations within their new mediums of communications.


In the early years of the printing press, type design was a mechanized process using the letterforms that came from hand-written manuscripts, thus turning them into an easily reproducible form. Pixel type could be viewed from the same perspective. In the eighties, screens display was limited, and creators had to simplify typography by economically choosing how to construct forms with minimal pixels.
Minimal and ornamental, two different approaches to typography put together. Pixel type is usually synonymous with digital, which is synonymous with function and cleanliness. This typeface rejects typical assumptions and that is what makes it so fun. It is grungy, punk, and hard to read.

Even though I was using pixels, it was still extremely important to imitate the movement of a calligraphic stroke in order for the pixels to come together to form believable letterforms. At many points, the placement of a single pixel could completely change the directionality that a letter had. It was a difficult process trying to translate complex forms into the simplest way that an early computer would be able to display it. The process was certainly full of contradicting ideas.  

Cyber/cax is not the most functional or legible of typefaces. It works well in a maximalist layout. It makes the most sense when in context relating to the digital age. It can be used for decorative titles but it also works as body text if need be. However, the smaller Cyber/cax gets, the harder it is to see the pixels.