Font Designer – Sumner Stone

Sumner Stone

Interview with Sumner Stone

How did you fall in love with type design?
I fell in love with type design through calligraphy. I was especially influenced by the work of Hermann Zapf and by working with him at Hallmark Cards.

How many typefaces have you developed until now?
Over 180.

Is type design what you are mainly doing? What is your profession aside from type design?
Type design is my primary activity. I am also an author and a teacher.

What inspired you to design Magma II?
I had already designed a sans serif typeface, Stone Sans (ITC) that was very successful, but I wanted to try designing a typeface that was highly legible for text and also attractive when used for display. To this end I wanted to create a monoline design that had strokes which swelled slightly at the endings. I also wanted to create an expanded sans serif family that included an uncial design, Munc, and a different approach to an informal than I had taken with the Stone family. That resulted in Tuff. As I was engaged in studying the early forms of the Roman letter I decided to use the basic components of Magma II to make a typeface based on the archaic Roman forms.

Were you influenced by other typefaces in the design of Magma II?
There were three influences – Hunter Middleton’s Stellar, Hermann Zapf’s Optima, and perhaps most importantly Hans Eduard Meier’s Syntax. I was also influenced by some ancient Greek inscriptions.

What techniques did you use in creating Magma II and what was the process for creating the design?
I made careful pencil drawings of most of the characters on frosted mylar. I then scanned these drawings and digitized them using standard applications. There was a good deal of editing on-screen, especially for the heavier and lighter weights.

Finding just the right proportions of the letters including the important aspect of the swelling stems was a process of successive approximations and took a considerable amount of time …

What was the greatest challenge you faced while creating your typeface?
Finding just the right proportions of the letters including the important aspect of the swelling stems was a process of successive approximations and took a considerable amount of time. The pencil drawings were where most of this refinement occurred. It took a long time to do them.

The typeface blends aspects of formal and informal design elements so it is at once elegant and sturdy …

Please describe the look and feel of Magma II.
Magma II is truly a text and display typeface. It is highly legible at text sizes and can be used for setting books and magazines. At display sizes it is attractive and has warmth – an unusual quality for a sans. It also works very well for text and display on screen because of its emphasis on the stroke endings and its overall clarity and balance. The typeface blends aspects of formal and informal design elements so it is at once elegant and sturdy.

Are there aspects of the design that you think should be highlighted, or that you particularly want the graphic design community to know about your typeface?
The high legibility both for print and on-screen is an important aspect, particularly for anyone designing documents that will be used for both media. It also can be mixed character for character with Munc, which makes it particularly attractive for creating logotypes and mastheads.

For what applications would you recommend Magma II (poster, text, newspapers, advertisements etc.)?
Magma II is an all purpose typeface. It is particularly suited to applications such as books and magazines which contain a good deal of text. It also has an appealing look at large size, so it can be used for advertising as well.

The swelling of the strokes along with the monoline appearance make Magma II unique …

What are the unique details from which you think they distinguish Magma II?
The swelling of the strokes along with the monoline appearance make it unique. I know of no other typeface that combines these two elements. It also is unique in that it can be blended with other designs, letter by letter.

What was the reason for you to give the typeface its name and what is the meaning?
Several of my typefaces have been plays on the meaning of my last name – Stone. This is one of them.

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