CYBER/CAX REVIVAL

Based on a 1482 specimen from William Caxton, I revived an out-of-print typeface as if it were from 1982.

In the early days of the printing press, type designers like Caxton crafted each letter to appear jotted by a human hand. I was charmed by this particular specimen’s purposeful imperfections setting it apart from the sharp-edged blackletter popular today. My challenge, however, was to maintain this spirit while “modernizing” it into a functional digital font.

Five hundred years after the Caxton specimen was the year 1982. Existing within the “Golden Age of Video Games”, ‘82 is specifically cited as the peak of arcade games with home consoles on the rise. This was also the early period of personal computers. In other words, we were now living in the Digital Age.








Digital Type Specimen:


Spreads from the Cyber/Cax Catalog:


Research/Process:

1482 ︎ 1982

The European Middle Ages officially ended in 1453, and the Renaissance had been making it’s first strides a century prior. The Renaissance served as a bridge to the Age of Enlightenment which, to oversimplify, eventually led us to the modern age. As I prepared myself to digitize this blackletter type, I knew I wanted the result to hold conceptual value in addition to aesthetic. I wondered when in recent history we were in a period of transition similar to that of the Renaissance...




To the right are four TIME Magazine covers from 1982, all concerning the Digital Age. In fact, the 1982 “Man of the Year” was changed to the “Machine of the Year” to honor the personal computer.

I decided that rather than modernize this antiquated typeface, I would retro-ize it by drawing inspirating from the 8-bit style that defined early arcade games.

At first glance, combining bulky pixels and an imperfect blackletter alphabet seemed like forcing together opposites. However, both type styles served as first iterations within their new medium of communications, mechanized processes attempting to simplify how type reached the viewer.

Pixel type is usually synonymous with digital, which is then associated with function and cleanliness. Meanwhile, blackletter type is ornamental calligraphy. My revival, “Cyber/cax”, rejects any of these assumptions. It is minimal and ornamental, while caring little for functionality.

This was not for a type design class: the goal was not to spend months perfecting a typeface. That being said, once I was satisfied with the form, I directed my attention to creating a series of my own type specimen. My branding of Cyber/cax followed strict rules to only use content and visuals relating to the year 1982.



Pole Position (1982)
Namco, Atari

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