Turnip’s distinct, unapologetic voice and engaging readability break new ground for text-size book and editorial use. The idea that a text face intended for genuinely serious purposes can take on such a fresh new personality is worthy of note. Perhaps the rise of the editorial format as the dominant form of consumed text is what inspired the intensity of Turnip’s personality. In any event, Turnip is both timely and appropriate.
Another very timely aspect of Turnip’s design is the consistency with which both its character and utility can be maintained from print to screen. Turnip can do this in part because of the nature of its design which is screen friendly to begin with but also because it is offered in a print and the screen optimized version (Turnip RE). This ability to stay consistent across media is far too rare a virtue.
The outsize personality you see at large sizes becomes lovely, lively and engaging at text sizes. Admittedly if you look at single glyphs at very large sizes some of them can seem almost willfully naive or even theatrically grotesque. Don’t be misled by this. These choices were made for a purpose. Turnip gets rid of excess prettiness, timidity, and preciousness to ensure that text sizes set as well and clearly as possible. I find this very impressive.
Turnip bears more than a passing resemblance to Dwiggins’ Hingham experimental newspaper type. (See Postscripts on Dwiggins, Vol. Two, Walter Tracy’s Letters of Credit, and The Crew of the Ship “Earth”.) This is another reason I find Turnip remarkable: it manages to successfully build on the very exciting but profoundly difficult experimental legacy of W. A. Dwiggins. Having seen so many designers try and fail to stand on the shoulders of the giant Dwiggins I can’t help but remark on this achievement.
David describes Turnip as being especially suitable for texts which may benefit from a rougher or more salty sensibility. I suspect that while this is true, this is also his humility talking. Turnip’s clarity, accessibility, and sheer functionality make it suitable for a much wider range of purposes. My girlfriend’s unsolicited reaction to seeing it set in the format of a novel was “I would think about buying a book set in this just for the typeface.” She meant it. Turnip deserves our attention and use.
Note: at the time of this review, Turnip was the text typeface for Typographica.org.