Making Gastromond

February 2020

Sometimes, the hardest part of a typeface is naming it. When it came to Gastromond, the name came before one vector point was ever placed. Gastromond started its life in 2013 with the combining of the word “Gastronomy” and ”Garamond”; this lead to the question: why are all fat faces based on the Bodoni/Didot model? Would it be possible to to make a fat face that was based on the sort of contrast that is found in typefaces like Garamond? Would I find out why this sort of thing was not done and have to give up? Only time would tell.

A traditional fat face with the weight distributed vertically.

The first thing to do was to establish what made a typeface a “Garamond”. This is where things got tricky. What we know as Garamond is sort of a misnomer. The man, actually named Claude Garamont, did design type but many of the typefaces now associated with the name are based on designs that were not made by the man himself. Designs by contemporaries such as Robert Granjon and Jean Jannon ended up associated with the Garamond name and, eventually, became what most people think of when they use Garamond-inspired typefaces.

Despite the name, these types are not actually based on Garamond’s but on Jannon’s designs.

After a lot of time trying to find actual examples of Claude’s work, it was decided that Gastromond would be based on Garamond’s Gros Romain from 1549. With an actual starting point, work could begin in figuring out what made a Garamond actually a Garamond; things like a relatively short x-height, blobby terminals on the f, r, a, and so on, and a lot of weight transferred to the bottom left and top right of the rounder characters.

Actually Garamond.

It is this distribution of weight that was the purpose of the typeface. With fat faces carrying all of their weight to create a strong vertical stress (like a picket fence), a fat faced based on this sort of model would carry its weight not just vertically but diagonally. It was important to stress the distribution of the weight here—that was the whole point of the design, after all.

Now obviously, given that this is a fat face design, there is no need to stick to the historical example completely; besides, there are several familiar typefaces with the Garamond name that were influenced by other designer’s work. Despite making sure that the starting point was referencing the man himself, there was no real model for the italics. This is where some of the outside influence had to be called up.

The italics for Gastromond, like pretty much all Garamond italics, are based on the work of Granjon, Jannon, and other French designers from the time; mostly because their work is just more interesting here (and this is a display face after all). Of course, many liberties were taken in order to really showcase the fat-faceness of the design (small counters, etc); but, in the end, it still had to have the character of those French designs.