Anders favorite fonts

The favorite fonts of the designer Anders Francker

In 2010, Anders Francker published his square sans Francker™ through Monotype. His experience of working as an engineer has given him an eye trained in such a way that he is not only able to create fonts but also assess their aesthetic worth. Below, Anders Francker provides a rundown of the six fonts he most admires.

Francker, born in 1972 in Denmark, was fascinated even as a child by the numerals and letters he saw on signs and in newspapers. But he decided to become an engineer, working on developments in the field of mechanics and preparing technical blueprints. He continued to paint and draw in his spare time, however, gaining experience in design in both his private and professional lives.

Without ever actually studying at a design school, Francker eventually encountered typeface design software for the first time at the beginning of the new millennium. Fascinated by the idea of being able to produce his own typeface, he got down to work. His insights into mathematics have proved to be particularly useful as they help him create effects that appear consistent even in different situations. Of course, you need more than an understanding of mathematics if you want to make a typeface but Francker does point out that architects, engineers and others like them who are used to working with drawings can contribute many innovative and interesting ideas to font design because they can see things from a new perspective.
You can also read our designer interview with Anders Francker.

Anders Francker: “These are my favorite fonts …”

It is very difficult to choose a few favourite fonts among thousands of fonts available on the market – there are really many good candidates – so I tried to ask myself the question: “If you could only have six font families installed on your computer, besides your own Francker family, of course, and you were limited to use these for everything that you write in the future, from headlines to body text, which ones should that be?” After some thinking I came to the conclusion that I would need two traditional sans-serif fonts, two a little more modern looking and squarish sans-serif fonts and finally two serif fonts – and these are the ones that I decided on:

Neue Helvetica

It is no wonder that this font family is on top of the charts! It may not always be the perfect choise‚ but in many cases certainly a good one! I like the typeface because it is nothing else but pure information. There is no nonsense about this typeface. All strokes are cut off either horizontally or vertically and in my opinion probably one of the typefaces that come closest to what letters and numbers should look like if you remove all unnecessary emotion-creating details. Both Helvetica and the later Neue Helvetica are great in different ways‚ but personally I prefer the latter because the characters seem to have a more generous width‚ with the capital M as a good example.
(It was in 1957 that Max Miedinger first developed the font he originally called Neue Haas Grotesk but which would subsequently take the world by storm under the name Helvetica. It was given its new name, which played on the popularity of Swiss typography, in 1960 and a wide range of variants have since been added over the years. Finally, in order to give the now internationally celebrated font family a uniform look, Neue Helvetica was produced for Linotype in the 1980s.)

Univers Next

Another good sans-serif family that‚ in my opinion‚ is more elegant than any other typeface in this category. It is more natural looking and humanist than Helvetica‚ with a bigger variation in stroke thickness and character width and pretty much white space inside and between the characters. The spurs of the lower case letters are slightly curved and all of these fine details together make this typeface become absolutely outstanding! I like the typeface because it is friendly‚ strong and easy to read. An excellent alternative to Helvetica!
(When designing Univers in 1956, Adrian Frutiger borrowed extensively from Renaissance antiqua fonts, thus giving his new typeface a warm and friendly character. In the late 1990s, the virtuoso of design collaborated with Linotype to produce a modified and extended version of the font, Univers Next.)

Eurostile Next

This sans-serif font family has the perfect balance between classic and futuristic! The superelliptic character outlines are surely inspired by the shapes of the 1960s TV-screens‚ but even though fifty years have passed since the first Eurostile was designed and TV-screens of today are completely rectangular‚ the typeface is still used a lot for technical purposes. When designing my own Francker family I was also very inspired by the superellipse‚ however‚ my goal was to make a typeface that was more open and easy to read on screen. Eurostile is a good choice for headlines and advertisement. The Eurostile Next is a distinct improvement‚ because the outlines are optimized and more superelliptic than in other versions of this typeface.
(Eurostile, which was released in 1962, is one of the most widely known of the designs of Aldo Novarese. For Linotype, Akira Kobayashi created an extensively reworked version in 2009 called Eurostile Next, which, among other things, restored the original forms of the typeface that had been lost through digitalization.)

Agency FB

At the first glance this simple looking‚ squarish sans serif may look like those many free fonts available out there‚ which are built up by completely straight lines and finally rounded on the outside corners. But if you take a closer look you will discover that there is a difference: This typeface is made by someone who knows what he is doing! The stroke thicknesses and proportions of the characters are much more well-balanced than those of many free techno fonts. Agency FB has a more “mechanical” look than e.g. Eurostile and Francker‚ but it is a good choice for science fiction movies‚ posters and the like. I have used it myself for a text in a company logo‚ within the technical business‚ and it looks great on their products as well as in small size on their web site. The Agency FB upper case has roots that go back to 1932 and a lower case was added in 1990. The font family now has a very large variety of weights and widths.
(David Berlow, a co-founder of Font Bureau, produced his Agency typeface in 1990 that is based on a titling font originally published by Morris Fuller Benton, adding many more line weights and styles.)

Times New Roman

I guess many would say that this is a boring choise‚ but “boring” font families tend to be very useful and Times New Roman is one of them. It is sharp and clear and can be used for almost everything. Like in the Helvetica case‚ a text set with Times is a safe choise‚ because everybody is so used to reading it that nobody will think that the characters look silly or strange. It is an excellent typeface for writing mathematical equations and body text. As most of the readers may already know the first version of Times was designed in the 1930s for the British newspaper with the same name and it is still one of the most popular serif typefaces.
(Working under the supervision of Stanley Morison, Victor Lardent drew a new font for the British newspaper The Times in 1932 – Times New Roman. Morison used the early 18th century Baroque antiqua Plantin by Robert Granjon as the basis for his concept.)

Palatino nova

This font family is simply a masterpiece! It looks more calligraphic and wider than Times New Roman and contains so many fine‚ interesting and well-crafted details. I like its proportions and a text written with Palatino is easy to read‚ strong and “alive”. A perfect choise for body text in a book etc. Compared to many other serif typefaces‚ which are hundreds of years old‚ Palatino is quite a young one‚ the first version was released around 1950 and the latest one‚ Palatino Nova‚ in 2005.
(Inspired by the forms of Italian Renaissance antiquas, Hermann Zapf originally created his oldstyle serif typeface Palatino in 1950. In collaboration with Akira Kobayashi, Zapf modified and extended his design for Linotype‚ which released Palatino in 2005.)

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