Image depicting "yes" in multiple serif typefaces

Three fonts that prove serifs aren’t always traditional

You’ve heard it before. Serifs are old and stodgy. They remind us of magazines, newspapers, smoking cigarettes. We have even perpetuated this myth by describing a typeface as “a more contemporary sans serif.” Or “a more traditional serif.”

But, we are wrong and will stop as of today. 

We are in a renaissance of new classics, paying appropriate homage to the past while forging new frontiers. This new wave is visible in the lifestyle brands that occupy the sites we frequent for daily commerce. And while we’ve seen a resurgence of UnDesigned logos, the typography coming out today is bringing the spirit big time.

I frequently use serif typefaces in my day-to-day work. Here are three that have made the cut.

Foundry: F-37, Typeface: Bobby
F37’s Bobby isn’t what you’d expect. It’s softer, warmer, and great for headlines and, in our case, logotypes. Bobby was the starting point for our work on Helpsy’s evolving brand architecture and identity. With a service mission devoted to cleaning up the fashion industry’s waste, we needed a friendlier presence in the name. 

Foundry: DJR, Typeface: Roslindale
We’re currently mid-launch on a brand using DJR’s Roslindale as part of the typographic identity. While some weights feel more ordinary, maybe even expected, it’s the condensed figures that stand out here. They are tall, elegant, and feel super knowledgeable. They're grabbing that traditional feel with a twenty-first-century (and future-forward) sensibility.

Foundry: Pangram Pangram, Typeface: Eiko
Lastly, there’s Pangram Pangram’s Eiko, with Japanese character sensibilities mixed with lead punch cuts. Eiko gives language room to breathe, as evident in our work with Eight22. The full font family is so extensive that you could use the lighter weights for one project and the heavier ones for another. We focused most of our energy on the lighter weights, with their playful and elegant slopes. 

So, if you are creating a typographic identity or trying to improve your information hierarchy, these three gems are typefaces to consider. Though, if you made it this far, I suspect you would be interested in more than three serifs. 

Deep cuts and b-sides
This revolution started a few years ago with Miller and Sectra. You could live a lifetime in the offerings of Klim Type Foundry (Klim). Domaine, Tiempos, Financier (still trying to lock that one down in a project), and Heldane are among the most stunning and varied offerings in modern typography. Here are a few others I love.

​​Romie began as a single-weight offering but has since expanded into three additional weights with italics. A calligraphy-inspired display font by Margot Lévêque carries forward the rich legacy of influences from Lubalin and Bookman. With subtle shifts in contrast and an ever so slight extended cue — most typical in sans serifs — Romie is most at home in display settings, though the lighter weights might work in body copy with appropriate spacing. Romie is high fashion, oozing elegance with every letter stroke. If Romie feels a little too pedestrian, check out Grand Slang by Nikolas Wrobel. Yowza! Editorial Old is just dying to be at the top of a new magazine or selling you shoes that are far too good for you — sorry. Lineto’s Bradford has a lot to offer. Pair it with a nice geometric serif, and you can do business casual for today without seeming past your prime. And good lord, Klim’s Financier is smarter than all of us combined. It’s appropriately frugal and yet the best dressed in the room.

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson

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