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Harry Bennett
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NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts


NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts
NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts
NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts
NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts
NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts
NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts
NaN Glyph Filters provides an open-source codebase and free-to-use library of generative fonts

In a move that questions the role of typographers and the construction of typefaces, Berlin-based typographic services studio NaN have created a free-to-use and free-to-modify open-source codebase that procedurally generates customised typefaces. Alongside this, NaN have produced a number of their own generative fonts with the codebase, using Rubik by Hubert and Fischer as their basis input typeface to highlight just a taste at the sheer variety the filter offers – all of which are available to download for free.

“In a way, this project has been ongoing for a long time,” NaN’s Luke Prowse explains, “I’ve been making generative typo/graphics in some form or another for most of my adult life.” Thriving in the plasticity and “remixing qualities” afforded by code, these characteristics are something Prowse views as forever fundamental to his creative thinking, alongside the concoction of “code, type and ideas” that are quintessential to a NaN project. With somewhat of a basic code-based knowledge required to use Glyph Filters’ codebase, Prowse tells us that “the code is written to interact with the Glyphs App API,” adding, “so at a minimum you need Glyphs 2.x to run them.” Although more complex the further you modify, Prowse assures us that most of the complexity is found in the background of the filters, “so I do believe it’s fairly easy to jump in to.”

Supported by Dave Crossland of Google Fonts, who helped the team make sure the software and fonts were open-source and freely available, Prowse describes the project as a truly “liberating” experience – continuing to develop the project to accommodate variable typefaces and variable outcomes through providing an animation axis to the filters.

Hoping to “make this kind of code-first approach more accessible,” Prowse looks to the future of increased control and variability within the typographic and design discipline. “The Lindy effect tells us that something that’s been around for a long time is likely to continue to be,” he suggests. “My personal belief is that we’re close to a tipping point where our collective learnings of ‘traditionally-made typefaces’ are leveraged as parametric fonts” whereby typefaces have the automated ability to adapt to pragmatic use of typographic cases. Giving the examples of “low-light, optical size, resolution, even other scripts,” Prowse concludes, “the last is the most interesting to me and something NaN is currently exploring.”

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