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Jeremy Tankard Typography Ltd
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Registered in England · Number 04706912



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About Bliss

In 1906 Edward Johnston's seminal book Writing & illuminating & lettering was first published. The ideas Johnston put forward, both in this book and in his lectures, were to inspire a revival of interest in calligraphy and to inform the wider fields of lettering and type in England. One of Johnston's ideas was a belief that a block sans serif form could be made more harmonious and acceptable if it were derived from the proportions of the Roman square capital letter. Bliss began with a nod of recognition to this idea.

Early development

However, during the development of Bliss, five typefaces in all were studied, each with a unique and interesting history; Johnston's Underground, Gill Sans, the Transport typeface, Syntax and Frutiger. With the Underground type, Johnston put into practice his ideas of a linear block sans serif. Eric Gill, a friend and collaborator of Johnston, draws heavily on Johnston's example for his own Gill Sans of c.1928. Transport, designed for the Department of Transport, utilises features and ideas from Johnston and Gill as well as concepts found in some of the continental type forms of the 1950s – such as the single bowl form of the g. The designer, Jock Kinneir, also worked hard to avoid ambiguity between characters sharing similar basic forms.

Hans Eduard Meier developed the idea of a dynamic structure within the normally rigid forms of a sans serif type. His Syntax typeface is drawn over the structure of an Old Face letter. As with Gill Sans it has humanistic subtleties of proportion together with weighted shading and open forms, but differs in that it has oblique terminals to the stokes. The underlying influence of the pen-written forms has resulted in an energetic type form.

Adrian Frutiger developed his Frutiger type from the design of a legible signage typeface for Roissy airport, France. Looking at the optics of letters seen at a distance, it became obvious that the forms had to be open, making them individually more readable and resulting in clearer word shapes.

In developing Bliss, forms were chosen for their simplicity, legibility and 'Englishness' (where forms are typically softer, more flowing and generous in their curves). The lowercase forms demonstrate some of these ideas, for example, the l is clearly different in form to a capital Iand a number 1; the roman two-bowled g is traditionally found in English sans serif designs. A great deal of the character of Bliss is found in the lowercase letters. Influenced by Meier's reasoning of 'dynamic structure', the resulting letters have a more natural feel and flow to them.

Bliss roman g

In contrast to the nineteenth century tradition of grotesque sans serifs, in which the proportions of the capitals tend to be even, the proportions of Bliss have been influenced by the Roman square capital resulting in a varied width to their forms. The horizontal top strokes of E F T and Z have oblique cuts that are balanced by the same detail in the rounded lower strokes of C J Q and S. These terminal details are expanded in the lowercase.

The compliment italic of Bliss follows a more flowing structure reminiscent of its written ancestor. Beyond this structural difference the four key lowercase characters have been drawn in sympathy with the rest of Bliss. The sloped forms of a and e are retained so not to make the type too soft, whereas cursive forms of f and g are included to maintain the rhythm and flow.

Drawing of Bliss italic g

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Information about this typeface

The PDF files show the complete character set together with a variety of language settings. Bliss is style-linked as follows; the italic fonts are style-linked to the romans.

Bliss is licensed in weight packs, for instance, Bliss Light contains both the roman and italic of the Light weight.

Bliss® is a registered trademark of JT Types Ltd.