Type can be a helpful means of escape. The mad toyshop designs of Arthur Reinders Folmer’s Typearture foundry are kind treats to puzzle over in bad times.
In appearance, Schijn is a product of its pre-COVID era — a faceted 2019 rife with Instagram crystals and fragmentation on the pop-culture brain. But the font belongs to 2020 because it looks purpose-built for use in a gentle iOS or Nintendo Switch game, the kind played to seek out private calm in a tense quarantined household. Those snatched moments of focused joy are vital now.
Criteria for type design quality feels different in 2020. A font that is joyous and childlike, yet legible and functional, can be more important than another new utilitarian sans behemoth family or well-researched historical revival. Popcorn has value in a pandemic. Losing time investigating the technical diligence put into silly fonts can be therapeutic, too.
There’s cunning in Schijn’s use of Shallow, Middle, and Deep inline bevel Cut depths to mimic typographic weight changes. Mass isn’t lost between styles and spacing does not change. Differences are achieved through foreshortened illusion within the glyphs’ interiors. It’s a strange balancing act to be both typographically sound and novel. Exploring the Rough style’s plateaued counter shapes is just a dumb good time. Schijn inspires me to revisit something as silly as Igloo, but with an engineer’s eye. It’s a welcome bejeweled distraction.