Preview: Bliss, an Enigma on a Blue Island?

1 June 1999

Jeremy Tankard has been behind some of the most recognisable typefaces of the 1990s, including FF Disturbance, which mixed upper- and lowercase forms, and Bliss. Tankard's work has been used widely in advertisements and product branding, and he is a sought-after designer of custom typefaces. This year will see at least two Tankard designs released: Blue Island (through Adobe Originals); and Enigma (to be sold through his own foundry, Jeremy Tankard Typography, along with Bliss).

Blue Island, which took three years of design and development, is a typeface made up of ligatures, based on the principle that readers recognize words and not letters. However, Blue Island retains its legibility while providing a distinctive character to headlines set using the typeface. Enigma, meanwhile, is more traditional although plays with the established structures of serif type, providing text with an attractive yet semi-formal appearance.

Blue Island

Tankard did not set out to be a type designer. “When I started looking at type with the interest of designing, I was in my final year at college. My thesis was odd; a collection of thoughts. The typeface used was the first version of what became Disturbance - based on Bradbury Thompson's ideas and his Alphabet 26, but addressing some legibility problems that occurred in his design. (The 'Future' section) was a very free-form scrapbook of my ideas and questions exploring geometry, layout, theatre and so on. Again set in the precursor of Disturbance.

I was told by my tutors (the graphics ones, not the thesis ones) that “You can't do this to the alphabet. It's ugly. There are reasons for things being the way they are. It's disturbing.” Bingo, I had a name for the typeface!