Some font designers are constantly in motion. Jennifer Dickert, designer of the modern serif font Sanford ($10), is a case in point, deftly stepping past a lineup of elaborate handwritten fonts to produce a serif made for minimalists.
The New Hampshire-based designer started her font stable with quirky characters inspired by the typography on albums recorded by the New Wave band The Cure. At the time she was a graphic design student in Boston learning the ropes on Macromedia's Fontographer, the very application that jump-started the modern era of typographic experimentation.
A class on type history inspired Dickert to create Sanford based on classic serif forms. There are elements of Goudy Old Style in the open counters and tall x-height, but in keeping with her own aesthetic, the designer made Sanford less ornamental. The Q has a calligraphic tail, instead of a sinuous stroke, and the counters--the negative spaces within the letters--are larger and less nuanced.
Sanford aims for straightforward legibility. Both upper and lowercase characters sit wide on the baseline and appear slightly compressed. When using the font for text, consider opening up the leading an extra point for readers. Less weight in Sanford's strokes guarantees this font is a light touch when used above 60 points. Closing the letterspacing a notch or two will help deepen the tone of headlines and titles.
With the requisite upper and lowercase, a fine set of numerals, and punctuation that works in more than one language, Sanford can be set to any number of purposes from signage to poetry. You can even set international catalog descriptions with the font, as Dickert has thrown in yen and pound symbols, along with sets of accented and diacritic characters.
Unfortunately, the typographer's work is never done. Before we purchase this shareware font, we'd like the designer to revisit her early effort using the latest font tools to repair the missing pixels in the Q and R. Also on our wish list are copyright and trademark symbols more in keeping with the nature of the font.
We're happy to report that the designer is still in motion. After a career in Web site design, followed by a second degree in nutritional science, Dickert has informed us she's diving back into type design under the name Fat Cat Fonts. In fact, she's busy readying new work for future release. Sanford is a fine start at a new classic, but will the designer continue her quest for modern legibility or dive back into the novelty font game? We have no idea where Dickert will settle next. At the very least, with Sanford, we can say we knew her when.
Note: To use this font, unzip the folder and install the .ttf file in the folder C:\Windows\Fonts. Note that the fonts won't appear in your applications until you close and re-open them.