A typeface of extremes: Frost’s Calhern takes typographic flexibility to new cinematic heights
Inspired by the function and flair of cinema’s eclectic typographic history, British type foundry Frost’s grotesk sans serif Calhern takes typographic range to new heights; offering all the variety one might need in a single collection. “The vast amount of styles give a multitude of moods,” Type Designer & Founder Harrison Marshall tells us, discussing the flexibility of the huge type family.
As such, Calhern is befitted with three sub-families, 78 styles and 13 weights, ranging from Skeleton to Black – alongside corresponding italics – allowing the typeface to fluctuate between typographic extremes easily. As a result, it is appropriate in both tight, text-heavy condensed contexts and large-scale big-feature display uses.
Speaking of the challenge to achieve such a prolific feat, Marshall explains, “the typeface was always intended to be super flexible in a number of ways,” notably that of languaging support – including Latin, Creek and Cyrillic characters covering over 150 languages. “This meant drawing over 800 glyphs per style, of which there are 78 styles in total,” he adds, “which is a lot, and a lot to kern.” The fruits of Marshall’s labour, however, are well worth the dedication, embracing the variety of Calhern’s influence and creatively shaping it into an entirely new direction.
“The name Calhern comes from the American actor Louis Calhern,” Marshall recalls, taking a step back and considering the project as a whole. “When studying typography in old film posters his name stood out,” he continues, “and it just felt right when typed out in the condensed version of our typeface,” a type style typical of film posters. “Films were really what provoked the start of Calhern,” Marshall concludes, “the idea that you could get so many different styles out of one typeface is what I set out to achieve.”