'Brushy' + Serif = Dolly Clone?

paul d hunt's picture

I've actually been trying to conceptualize, for several years, a typeface to convey a particular idea (that I don't want to give away just yet) and it recently occurred to me that in order to achieve the desired connotation I'm shooting for, it would be desirable to do create a typeface combining several different aspects, one of which was the paradigm of the brush + a serif font. Once I realized this, I immediately thought of Underware's work and Dolly in particular. To be honest, I can't really think of another brushy serif that isn't compared to Dolly (Dederon often being cited as a clone). Of course I want to avoid aping someone else's work, but it almost seems that when it comes to designing a brush-informed serif typeface it is inevitable that it will be compared to the exemplar of the genre: Dolly. It doesn't seem possible that in the hundreds of years of type that Dolly was the first example of a brushy serif, but I can't think of one that pre-dates it or many other types that would fit into this category. Before I go any further, I'm curious if anyone out there is aware of other serif typefaces that that incorporate the brush-formed structure and still avoid the problem of looking too much like Dolly. Also, is it possible to create a brush serif that avoids Dolly comparisons? Will Dolly, in time, be seen as the father of the genre, much as Johnston's Underground has spawned so many humanist sans typefaces? If you're so inclined, please enlighten me!

jupiterboy's picture

Just a thought.

paul d hunt's picture

hmmm, to me 'brushy' typically involves a bit of plumpness and roundness. maybe the combination of the 3 elements is what makes Dolly? brush + rounded + serif?

jupiterboy's picture

Yes, different kinds of brushes.

paul d hunt's picture

I knew there was one from Our Type, thnx Stephen. So we have a few examples, any opinions?

Miss Tiffany's picture

I can't find the typeface anymore, but IIRC, there was a brushy serif from a recent KABK grad that reminded me a lot of Dolly. Or was that Reading? No. I'm pretty sure it was KABK.

Miguel's Calouste was a brushy serif too. And would you believe I can't find a sample?

Edit: Ok. I found a PDF.

jupiterboy's picture

My simple impression is that the whole Transitional area is ripe for new exploration and scholarship, but I'm at the low end of the learning curve. I suspect you are in prime position to make a point Paul.

How did you like The Hunger? I had just rewatched that on DVD the previous night.

paul d hunt's picture

me? The Hunger? didn't see it, but recently watched Hunger, which was quite interesting...

Miss Tiffany's picture

I think Lexicon is brushy too. Doesn't it pre-date Dolly?

Stephen Coles's picture

Yep, good one, Tiff. And Trinité too, though more in a calligraphic Brioso way.

eliason's picture

I'm not sure I follow what you're after - would this count?

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

If there is any typeface to which Dolly would be indebted it would be DTL Dorian... especially in the italics.
Dorian is brushy but not buttery soft like Dolly. However, Dolly is no chop-shop counterfeit job. It would be what Tiffany is calling an homage. Gingko mentioned in another thread should not even mentioned in amongst the same company.

Dorian came around 1997. Dolly 2001.

Also see my very tedious thread:

Mikey :-)

analisa's picture

Rumba doesn't feel like a clone of Dolly at all, but has a very brushy feel. I think it's definitely possible to create a brush-inspired serif without cloning Dolly—you can exaggerate thicks and thins and experiment with more eccentric letter forms, which Rumba starts to do.


jupiterboy's picture

The Dorian Ital is very revealing.

Sry, Paul. Bad assumption on the movie.

Randy's picture

Paul you bring to mind this thread: http://typophile.com/kompilat esp. the italic

Can Trajan get a shoutout for an old school brushy serif? Not what you had in mind, but I seem to remember that roman inscriptional lettering was brushed on, then chiseled.

Stephen Coles's picture

Thanks for mentioning Rumba, Analisa. Ashamed I forgot it. Though it may not be part of the same book serif category due to its lack of bold, italic, or small caps.

> I seem to remember that roman inscriptional lettering was brushed on, then chiseled.

Yep. That was the subject of Paul Shaw's talk at TypeCon08.

paul d hunt's picture

hmmm, some of these bring up another aspect that makes Dolly itself, the element of 'structure', especially in the Roman. Some of these other brushy faces, like Rumba, distance themselves from Dolly by incorporating a more eccentric character. That's probably why I didn't think of them to begin with. Also some of this other 'Dutch school' stuff is good to be reminded of. Actually, I should have investigated this area first, because my ideas started coming together when someone referred to Grandia as being 'Reading house style' and I was thinking of what would characterize the 'KABK house style' and thought that it would be this brushy stuff. Then I thought what would happen if I reconciled the two houses and incorporated elements of both in a typeface. Looking at the Kompilat thread actually scares me a bit. I know I looked at it before I started Reading, but I never referred to it when I was Designing Grandia, it must have become engrained in my unconciousness. Yet it's interesting that Ondrej and I made quite a lot of the same design decisions, espeically in the Roman. Thank goodness the italics are more divergent! His roman has a few brush elements (as Does Grandia), but is more calligraphic in general than brush-informed. Interesting, gives me a lot to think on. Thanks for your help, folks. Of course more comments are welcome, if you desire to make any...

Grrrben's picture

As Tiffany suggested I think too Lexicon has some things in common with Dolly. And I remember Reading grad Sandra (from her RoP) had to avoid Dolly at some point...

Anyway! Paul, I think you just should start designing the idea you've got in mind. Along the way you'll find your on way for a typeface with its own personalities. Stop talking and let's do it!

paul d hunt's picture

Actually, I should have investigated this area first, because my ideas started coming together when someone referred to Grandia as being ’Reading house style’ and I was thinking of what would characterize the ’KABK house style’ and thought that it would be this brushy stuff.

This is really funny, actually, because Ondre is from the house of KABK.

pvanderlaan's picture

I regard Peter Verheul’s work as the main inspiration for a lot of brushy typefaces from The Hague. This can be seen in his typeface Versa which is used throughout the book Dutch Type. An even better example is the precursor to Versa, called Nardy, which he designed in the mid-nineties. Peter Verheul might be relatively unknown to most but he makes innovative and sometimes highly experimental designs and has a good hand for teaching.

The origins of this brush style can be attributed to the calligraphic exercises with the flat brush that he teaches at the MA Type & Media. I teach this technique to a group of undergraduate students at the KABK as well. The flexible brush is more difficult to control than the stiff broad-nibbed pen but it also invites playfulness and experimentation.

On a different note: I wouldn’t classify Lexicon (1992) as particularly brushy though (Trinité (1979) would suit that title better) but both of Bram de Does’ typefaces have inspired numerous (ex-)KABK students indeed.

-Paul van der Laan

BTW: Paul, calling Ondrej “from the house of KABK” doesn’t do him justice, does it? He only started at the MA Type & Media two months ago. All his work shown here on Typophile was made whilst he was still an undergraduate in Bratislava.

paul d hunt's picture

WOW! thank you Paul, this is exactly the kind of information that I needed. Okay i'll take my previous comment back. Of course i find it silly to make stereotypical remarks myself, so all this talk of 'Reading style' and 'KABK style' is a bit tounge-in-cheek. I will have to buy some brushes and do some experiments of my own with them. Are there other implements that you experiment with in the courses you teach? I'm ready to start getting my hands dirty in this respect.

crossgrove's picture

Don't Sauna and Bello also have this quality? Yes, get some brushes but also felt-tip markers, big sloppy ones.

I think I would describe this as a Dutch quality after seeing the traits in so many Dutch faces.

Brioso also has a "wet-look" but reads more as pen than brush.

Can you approach this by choosing a different structure (Modern rather than Renaissance)?

For an example of a brushy Clarendon, see Parry (Dutch, once again).

pvanderlaan's picture

Are there other implements that you experiment with in the courses you teach? I’m ready to start getting my hands dirty in this respect.

Different surfaces produce different results too, or using (thin) gouache instead of calligraphy ink. I'd recommend using flat nylon brushes with widths between 10 mm and 20 mm.

Also check the pictures of Yomar Augusto’s workshop at the last ATypI conference. He practised his brush calligraphy skills already before he enrolled at Type & Media and his graduation work Dendekker shows this influence clearly.

paul d hunt's picture

I think I would describe this as a Dutch quality after seeing the traits in so many Dutch faces.

From what I've seen, the French have the same affinity for the soft brush (again, correct me if i'm wrong), so i would avoid calling it strictly 'Dutch' as it is seen in other type cultures although it is quite prevalent in the low countries.

Can you approach this by choosing a different structure (Modern rather than Renaissance)?

I'm actually thinking a slab.

Bendy's picture

I came across a lovely (unreleased?) font from Reading MA student Yvonne Schuettler. See Mina on Flickr.

paul d hunt's picture

I am aware of all of the Reading MA's work from the past year. You can see all the faces in more detail at www.typefacedesign.org

Quincunx's picture

Interesting thread, I've always loved Dolly and other similar typefaces because of the 'brushy' qualities.

I also saw Elena a while back (also a Reading face, from '07). And of course TEFF Collis. They aren't as rounded as Dolly, but I do see some similarities in structure.

Jan's picture

Could Gerrit Noordzij be the father of this brushy (dutch, to me) style?
See chapter ‘Gerrit Noordzij, teacher & master of crafts’ in ‘Dutch Type’ by Jan Middendorp.

FeeltheKern's picture

@Jan: From what I've read from Gerrit Noordzij, he was not exactly the father of this exact aesthetic -- brushy serifed type -- but it's certainly the result of his line of thinking about showing the construction and how all type is rooted in handwriting. I don't really think it was a "thing" until the mid 90s, though.

jupiterboy's picture

Anselm has a toe in but is not fully committed to the brushy look.

Quincunx's picture

Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I just remembered something when thinking about the comments made in this thread if Gerrit Noordzij is the father of the brushy style.

Check his typeface called Ruit. It isn't available for sale as far as I know, but there is a small sample in the book Dutch Type (check here) and it's also used throughout the book Jan van den Velde -- schrijfmeester 1569–1623 where it was officially presented.

I'm sure most of you have seen it, but I thought I'd add it to the thread anyway, since these kind of typefaces interest me alot.

Nick Shinn's picture

Cooper Old Style, from the 1920s, pre-dates Dolly.

Here are some from the phototype era:
Caxton, by Les Usherwood, 1981, an update of his earlier Graphis.

A lot of Typsettra display work had a brushy quality:

Usherwood's master artwork was done with a brush, caps 5" tall.
But really, the sharp-serifed Flange was also inherently brushy, as the fine points demonstrated a quality of brushwork.

And to repeat James' post: Garth Graphic (not by Usherwood), 1979:

Dan Gayle's picture

If you want the ultimate brushy, the original Peignot Auriol is it. I've seen it on some old French magazines, and when it was in context it was awesome. If it were cleaned up, and the disconnected parts connected, it would be a pretty sweet design for today even.

paul d hunt's picture

do it, Dan!

Nick Shinn's picture

...and the disconnected parts connected...

Quel sacrilege!

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