Neither blackletter nor graffiti, The Northern Block’s marker-inspired Hubsch defines its own genre
Combining modernist principles with a joyful and nostalgic hand-drawn aesthetic, Hubsch is an experimental typeface from independent type foundry The Northern Block. According to their Founder and the typeface’s creator Jonathan Hill, the idea for the sans serif first began with a childhood memory: watching the BBC show ‘Take Hart,’ which saw English artist Tony Hart drawing with a chisel tip marker. It’s a memory many people can relate to; evoking the sounds, sights and smells of a marker pen on a whiteboard or sheet of paper. Likewise, Hill nods to the evolution of the marker pen – from street art and graffiti to famous names like Keith Haring. “The marks made from a chisel tip marker are unapologetic,” he states, “there is nowhere to hide; you have to accept its path and embrace the mistakes.”
Whilst the starting point was nostalgia, Hill emphasises that Hubsch blends experimentation and digital precision in equal measure, all whilst occupying its own set of rules. “Neither hand-drawn nor digital components dominate; they occupy the same space as piano keys,” he notes. The result is a typeface that is both distinctive and brutalist, existing in a genre of its own. “Hubsch, for one thing, is not blackletter,” Hill continues, “it follows its own set of rules, but these rules have logic, organised with absolute values to make the aesthetic utterly modern and fit for purpose.”
Describing the overall characteristics of the typeface, Hill explains that “Hubsch is a square, grid-like typeface with subtle convex vertical and horizontal stems,” where the “terminals are soft cushions that look as though the pen’s ink has been absorbed into the paper.” On a technical note, “the ascenders and descenders were given moderate values to help with linespace settings in small body text.” These details and considerations are what come together to make Hubsch unique, balancing the marker pen’s handwritten forms with the constraints of a pixel grid; leading to an aesthetic that is both hand-crafted and technical.
The typeface is available in seven weights with matching obliques, ranging from Light to Black, with over 600 characters per style. Each weight considers how a chisel tip pen works on paper, and features the corresponding line weights. As such, the family provides a versatile selection of options for many applications – whether that be for technical usage or for bold impact. “On a small scale,” Hill adds, “Hubsch is a reading pleasure, yet on a large scale, it shouts out in a visually pleasing way.” Furthermore, as a Latin script, Hubsch’s language support covers Western, Southern and Central Europe.