Extra is a typeface I designed for the identity system of 46 & 2, a Mumbai based design studio. This typeface was drawn largely over 5 weeks at TypeParis 2019.
As a graphic designer with little to no prior experience in designing typefaces, my first instinct with a branding project is to find a typeface that fits the context, rather than to create one from scratch. Since a lot of 46 & 2's body of work is expressive, groovy street art and environmental graphics, I wanted to use a stencil typeface as part of the identity system. However, I noticed that with stencil type, most of my options were limited to very industrial looking typefaces with cuts placed strictly for functionality, not aesthetic. None of these effectively conveyed the studio's funky vibe.
In the process of finding a typeface that had an expressive, over the top display variant, a stencil display variant, as well as a lighter counterpart that worked for chunks of text, I began to get a very clear idea of how I wanted it to look and work. There began the process of drawing Extra, a typeface with a bold personality.
By the end of the first week of TypeParis, my brief was quite clear contextually, but I had very little to go on visually. I began by sketching words rather than letters to be able to derive the kind of visual feel I wanted from the typeface. Once I had achieved a fair idea of the look I wanted, I was to start drawing individual letterforms, which would then be grouped into words once again to see how they functioned as a system.
Halfway through the course, I quite liked how this sketch looked. However, at this point, it was still more lettering than the basis of a typeface. I was very reluctant to switch the diagonal stress for vertical, but two iconic quotes convinced me to.
Iconic quote by Matthew Carter on how a typeface must prioritise being a system that works together over maximising the individual aesthetic of each letter.
Iconic quote by Jean Francois Porchez, the head of the program, on how I must ditch the tilted axis to pass TypeParis.
Since the stencil version is to be used in street art as well, it seemed impractical to retain the sharp corners and thin serifs that were present in Extra. Retaining the character of the typeface while still making it useful as a stencil was a challenge. Since the serifs were very short, I turned them into flared stems, and rounded all the corners slightly. These letterforms were also slightly widened so as to allow thicker cuts for structural integrity.