The Story of Burdock, Font from Beyond the Grave

Reid Hitt
Reid Hitt
Feb 4, 2018 · 2 min read
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Burdock’s ancestors

Burdock is sans serif I’m designing inspired by classic typefaces called grotesques. While scouring the internet and libraries for historical source material, I came across some pretty wonky, long-forgotten typefaces calling to me from beyond the grave. Typefaces like the one above were the basis for the first iterations of Burdock.

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Burdock Thin

Burdock is intended to be used for branding and on-screen reading. The challenge (and fun) has been finding the right balance between “earthy and historical” and “straightforward and versatile.”

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Burdock Black

In contrast to graphic design, making a typeface (with several weights and italics) requires discipline and time. You can feel like a monk or nun sequestered in a faraway cell, for some reason, dedicating your life to the alphabet. It’s easy to get lost in the details. A fresh perspective from other designers provides a broader picture and opportunities to improve. While working out the kinks in Burdock, I’ve received helpful feedback at TypeThursday meet-ups and from my dear colleagues at ExpandTheRoom.

Live on the air with Erin McLaughlin and Thomas Jockin of Fontribute

Last week, I joined Erin McLaughlin and Thomas Jockin of Fontribute (video above) to discuss Burdock and Veronika Burian and José Scaglione’s Ebony, a typeface with a similar concept. As a longtime fan of TypeTogether’s work, I’m very humbled by the comparison.

For me, type design is rewarding because it’s the Venn diagram of my career in graphic design and my background in abstract painting. When I started getting into type design, one thing that surprised me was how the process of making a typeface is a lot like making a painting. Designing type requires you to carefully observe formal details and, over time, you develop an eye for it. The process is surprisingly experiential and observational rather than precise and programmatic. Your decisions are guided by how the letters actually look on screen and on paper.

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Burdock is still a work in progress. If you’d like to follow along, you can see more on my Instagram.

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