Belafonte: all on deck

Bela­fonte was only a student’s attempt to give a second breath to one of the most strange and amu­sing type­faces desi­gned by Roger Excof­fon, Calypso. Some have tried revi­vals, some­times wan­ting to be accu­rate, but never in a convin­cing way. Per­so­nally, I find the dot­ted grays­cale bears too much of an ending-fifties nos­tal­gia I’m not com­for­table with, that’s why I deci­ded to try and extract the visual spi­rit of the type­face in order to offer some­thing that would be more of an homage than a revi­val. This is what explains the use of ano­ther name.

Spe­ci­men of the Olive foun­dry from which I drew the pri­mary shapes.

The prin­ciple I chose is quite simple. I use ano­ther expres­sion of opti­cal grays­cale that seems less out-of-date aiming to give the type­face a new appea­rance while conser­ving its dyna­mic spe­ci­fi­ci­ties and the vision of volume expres­sed by the let­ter­forms and gra­dients. After some wan­de­ring, I ended up using a gra­dient shape tool, com­mon in Adobe Illus­tra­tor, in order to obtain opti­cal grays­cales that could be easily twea­ked. The final goal was to find a sys­tem that would allow for the crea­tion of a ‘nor­mal’ font file.

Various attempts to ren­der the gra­dients pro­perly in grayscale.

Even­tually, I didn’t find the time (or patience ?) to deve­lop the font seriously, but the basic work having been done and the use of it being pos­sible to a cer­tain extent, I ima­gi­ned relea­sing my wor­king files and the few achie­ve­ments as an open-source bundle for the plea­sure of some friendly nerds. What had stayed in the domi­nion of ima­gi­na­tion now becomes real through the com­pres­sed file I pro­vide today, contai­ning a very basic font and some vec­tor files that will allow enthu­siasts to play around with what I’ve done this far, even modify, expand or improve…

It is to be noted that this crea­tion (ori­gi­nally Calypso) was never meant to be a com­plete type­face, merely a gathe­ring of drop­ped caps or swash let­ters inten­ded for tit­ling uses. This is why I didn’t try to deve­lop a com­plete type­face, as some have tried, for I would consi­der this enter­prise quite absurd. I took the time though, to draw num­bers and an amper­sand, as well as accents (for capi­tals are meant to be accen­ted, yes).

This work is relea­sed under the terms of the Crea­tive Com­mons license allo­wing any com­mer­cial or non-commercial use and any modi­fi­ca­tion as long as the result remains under the terms of the license, i.e. sha­red freely (I might add, free of charge). Men­tio­ning me as the pri­mary author would also be nice, or let me put it this way, the license requires it. This being, I have bet­ter things to do than to sue you if you don’t.

For the record, and for the newly come audience, the name Bela­fonte is a direct refe­rence to Steve Zissou’s ship in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aqua­tic. The ship itself refers to Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s boat, the Calypso. As for the link bet­ween the two names, I leave this riddle to your good sol­ving care, there’s enough info about that on the internet.

Contrat Creative Commons

[Down­load Belafonte.zip]

Bela­fonte by Loïc San­der is relea­sed under the terms of the Attribution-ShareAlike Crea­tive Com­mons license. Autho­ri­sa­tions excee­ding this license can be dis­cus­sed at this adress: loic (at) aka­lol­lip (dot) com

To conlude this post, if you’re inter­es­ted in the work of Roger Excof­fon, I can only recom­mend you read the well-written and richly docu­men­ted book publi­shed by Ypsi­lon Éditeur in novem­ber 2010, Roger Excof­fon and the Olive foun­dry (the book is bilin­gual, french-english, fore­word by Gerard Unger).

Yes­te­ryear, on the matter:

bel.bir (Bela­fonte birn­baum)
Bela­fonte: encore
Paperk­nack (birth of Belafonte)

One Response to “Belafonte: all on deck”

  1. Aurore Dechambre Says:

    Elle est fas­ci­nante.
    Mais je pré­fère Steve Zissou!

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