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Lunica by Thomas Hirter

A New Font from Subtitle to Headliner
Posted by Gestalten—09/2014

A touch of handwriting lends display font Lunica a strong individual and poetic character. Inspired by the basic letterforms of the cinema subtitles during his years in Stockholm, Bern-based Thomas Hirter was compelled to add serifs abstracted with a geometric quarter circle to reflect the charm of the Swedish language. The single line weight serif typeface offers great readability at small sizes and is available in four styles: thin, light, regular, and medium. 

Please give us an introduction to yourself and your work.

For nearly 10 years I have been working as an independent graphic designer, after finishing the Schule für Gestaltung in Biel (Biel's school of design). My workspace is located in a small former packaging factory in Bern, where I share with two dozen other self-employers. I am not equipped with plenty of creativity, so I consider myself more of a craftsman than an artist. Type design has always fascinated me, but in the recent years, I have become more serious and passionate, so it was only a question of time until my first typeface was released.

What was your main intention when drawing the typeface Lunica?

I started the project in 2006; it was during my years in Stockholm. The inspiration came from the subtitles at the cinema. At that time they were often set in some kind of sans-serif stencil typeface: basic letterforms, one single line weight, round endings, and no contrast. My intention was to keep this simplicity but add serifs to meet the charm of the Swedish language. Of course this is a contradiction: a serif typeface is somewhat defined by having contrast. I chose to abstract the serifs with a geometric quarter circle. This initial form is attached to most of the line endings and gives the typeface a touch of a handwriting and organic temper.

Is there any historical background which you see Lunica is related to, or are you free from any kind of relation and just following your intuition?

My personal motivation and the background are mentioned above. The name Lunica (which was given at the very end of the process) makes a funny connection to the grotesque classic Unica from 1980. The two are as different as they can be, but yet there is a similarity in their straightforward letterforms.

Do you develop typefaces because there is a need for it in the daily graphic design business or do you create typefaces because of the typographical challenges? And what triggers you when starting a new typeface?

There is no actual need for new typefaces, especially not for display fonts! Often I get inspired when I see a type that isn't quite done the way I would like it to be. Then I just can't wait to try it out myself and find that specific style.

How do you see the creative potential of your typeface? In which application do you see the typeface at most and are there any special features?

Particularly I am curious how designers will get along with it. With its round forms and few straight lines or orientation points, it is quite hard to find a suitable use. On the other hand, it provides a very strong individual and poetic character. After all, it's amazing to see how good the readability is at small sizes. I plan to eventually add decorative initials or extend the family with italics or a script font. Even a more common serif style which brings back the contrast would be an exciting thing to do.

Do you have a working routine? What are your ideal conditions for you to work at your typefaces? 

Since I work as a self-employed graphic designer with client assignments for the most part, the difficulty is to find time to keep working on a typeface for a period of time. The best way is to really take some time off and pull back to an isolated cabin in the mountains.

Is there any designer or typographer who has inspired you or you still feel influenced by?

Not really. I have some designers that I favor, but no certain idols. My father is a graphic designer as well, and he has certainly played an important role during my professional education.

Click here to test Lunica or download the font's sample PDF.

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