Typeface Review


Reviewed by Patric King on July 5, 2017

My favorite thing to encounter in a new typeface is a remix of old ideas into a new, witty take. Chap does just that thing; it references old broad-nib pen-drawn type from way before the twentieth century, but it also gets all 1990s-geometric on us, tying its pen-drawn shapes to those we understand easily from our modern 90° digital presets.

I love that Chap references so many periods of type publishing so fluidly and cheerily; I love even more that I can see those references without going, “Here’s a typeface that needs to explain its Thesis to me.” It’s plain to see.

This is a family that can be used for reading, for display, and alongside a wide range of other faces. I can envision Chap coexisting just as easily with a late-nineteenth-century print-shop wackjob as with a modern geometric sans.

I like that it also smartly (and quietly!) references destroyed computer type, something we don’t see much these days. Barry Deck pulled that trick most expertly in his Truth collection for Thirstype back in ’94 (here’s the only example I can find of Truth anywhere, which is a pity), and Chap performs this same stunt nicely as weights change — creating unexpectedly sharp contrast in the lowercase a and e particularly. Its lowercase s is not cute, but it’s also clear exactly why it’s not cute — therefore it doesn’t matter. It just makes sense, because those shapes are all rationalized very well.

Chap’s a wise, deft mixture of many different periods of type history into one interesting, unexpected synthesis. It’s not afraid to be unattractive where it makes sense to be. If you’re smart, and you’re well spoken, you don’t have to be unquestionably pretty as well. Chap illustrates that individuality very well.

Patric King makes type and designs for brands from Chicago. He complains a lot on Twitter, and posts regular studio cat updates on Instagram.

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