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When Hal Taylor saw the 1930 logo for the Stetson Shoe Company of Weymouth, Massachusetts, he didn't run out and buy a pair of loafers. Instead, he seized on this striking example of an Art Deco logotype as the basis for a new typeface design. “I was impressed with the delicate and sophisticated letter forms,” Taylor recalls, “particularly the enlarged cap S -- in any other case it would have seemed unbalanced, but in the context of this logo, it worked perfectly.”
All the letters in the original all-caps Stetson Shoe logo were rendered with condensed proportions except the O, which was a perfect circle. While the prominent O added visual interest to the logo, Taylor knew that such a character would limit his typeface to display applications. For versatility's sake, he drew his O for ITC Stepp with the same proportions as the rest of the alphabet. Taylor also gave the logotype's inverted S a more traditional design, but kept the original as an alternate character in the OpenType font.
Taylor's toughest challenge during the design process was creating a lowercase. “A good type design tells you what it wants to be,” he says, “and after a little while the Stepp caps began to tell me what the lowercase should look like.” Taylor's lowercase is slightly more conventional than the caps. The jaunty g" and almost upside-down "s" add subtle charm, while the capital letters provide the broader gestures of Stepp's personality. Together, they create a versatile and distinctive typeface design.
One of Hal Taylor's first jobs was as a photo-lettering typographer in Philadelphia, setting headlines and creating custom lettering. This was followed by a stint doing finished lettering for John Langdon, whose ambigrams appear in Dan Brown's best-selling novel, Angels & Demons. Today, Taylor works as a graphic designer in the publishing industry, but he still finds time to create an occasional hand-lettered book jacket, and draw handsome typeface designs.
ITC Stepp is available in four weights, ranging from Light to Ultra Bold. All four weights have companion italics, and the lightest three weights also offer a suite of small caps."
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