NaN’s calligraphic serif typeface NaN Tragedy captures the contrast between classic and digital
From the mind of French type designer J.B Morizot, NaN's striking serif NaN Tragedy mixes sci-fi spirit with fantastical expression; embodying the contrast between classic calligraphy and digital vector graphics. Following the length and visual weight of a classic serif, Morizot tells us how the typeface’s architecture systematically explores the concept on which it is based. “The connection between the head and the main body of the letterforms uses a subtle calligraphic modulation around a very unusual and contemporary shape,” he explains, “with the idea of balancing the two.”
With so much variety across its extensive family – where exaggerated and expressive forms erupt from italic cuts, while delicate moments are found within its lighter weights - NaN Tragedy’s story is made all the more compelling through the permanent nature of its inspiration. “Stone carving was really important for NaN Tragedy,” Morizot tells us, introducing “visible traces of tools on the stone” within the minute architecture of its letterforms. “I wrap up vectors upon this skeleton I imagined in my head while looking at these letters,” he recalls, further noting the significance of Greek calligraphy within the typeface. “I wanted to reproduce this very specific texture in a Latin typeface,” Morizot explains. “It's not a copy/paste of Greek rhythm of course,” he adds, “but I let the typeface be influenced by it.”
Pushing these intricate considerations to the max across the breadth of the family led to the creation of NaN Tragedy Display, alongside its standard text counterpart. “The Display version follows obvious optical modifications,” Morizot explains, noting the greater scale of the letters demanding a narrower frame. “The contrast can be increased because the issue of small sizes doesn't exist anymore,” he adds, “but the most important thing is you can allow yourself to be more bold and crazy,” distilling the true wild nature of the typeface. “All the adaptations you have to make on a text typeface in order to have a readable typeface,” he recalls, “are just pointless.”
Truly encapsulating the spirit and story of NaN Tragedy is its microsite; an endless feed of AI-generated stories that exhibit not only the breadth, scale and complexity of the typeface and its extensive family, but also the tragic influences behind its construction. Quickly finding yourself lost in the stories, and indeed similarly captivated by the elegant letterforms, the microsite combines photography, type and the illustrations of Myriam Heinzel in a whirlwind of form and expression – carrying with it a voice perfectly in line with the typeface’s own eclectic character.
Beginning its development in 2019, NaN Tragedy has been a labour of love for Morizot, who is excited to see what the future holds for it. “The big reward is when people start to use the font in real-life projects,” Morizot concludes, “testing the font on your own computer is something, but seeing in the real world is quite something!”
|Direction, Code & Design|