Berenice Smith, MA graphic designer and stained glass artist

A designer and creative exploring social communication through design. Past projects include visual representations of synaesthesia and developing a typeface based on a rural vernacular.

Stern Pro

Ask a designer to create their own material and I am sure that we'd confess to it being impossible. Just as my friend who bakes cakes for a living rarely has time to make one for her partner's birthday, so designing for yourself is very difficult. What do we want the style to say and what about the typeface, finish and oh god, the words! It can be a big headache as I have found out this week!

I ended up doing the very opposite of what I advise and got personal. I rarely recommend this because most work should be appropriate for the customer and has little do with the feelings of the owner or creator. However I figured business cards surely are the exception to the rule? 


What about the typeface? There are squillions of them out there, not all good and some very inappropriate. The MA has opened a new avenue of exploration with fonts. Just because something has been created, it doesn't mean you have use it. Comic Sans is a good typeface in the right context - just as Connare, the designer, intended us to use it. Which isn't on gravestones. Like any design, there is usually a back story to great typefaces that's worth reading. From this you can work out if it's correct for your design. So I began to look through the library I own already and the knowledge acquired since the MA began two years ago. The whole point of the end of course show is to bring together our knowledge and show off. 

I decided on Stern Pro. The reasons for this are varied. First I like the history of it's creation. It was designed by Jim Rimmer who features on this film directed by Richard Kegler, owner of the P22 foundry. Named after the late printer, Christopher Stern, it is the first font to be released in metal and digital. Kegler filmed Rimmer making the typeface in metal and on the Mac. I was fortunate to meet Richard at Anglia Ruskin before he dashed off to the Arts Picturehouse to show the film, Making Faces during Cinetypo at the Festival of Ideas in Cambridge, November 2014. We spent a few hours in the letterpress room at ARU mucking about with inks, wooden letters and running out prints on the Swiss 40 proofing press. I appreciate him taking the time to share his knowledge to an enthusiastic groupie. I like the ethos of P22 who say this about themselves

P22 type foundry creates computer typefaces inspired by Art & History and is renowned for its work with museums and foundations to ensure the development of accurate historical typefaces that are fully relevant for today's computer user.

Having found myself working in a firm that has abandoned print and in doing so, altered it's view on design through that action (as I found out in my dissertation), the link of a metal and digital typeface seems appropriate. History is so important to a designer, as important as looking to the future. 

One interesting fact about Stern Pro is that the metal outsold the digital.

Finally, it is appropriate. Two years ago I may have say that it looks good and this would have been first on the list. Arguably that should still be the case, but like books, films and stamps - or whatever it is that you collect, the provence is important. This should also be true about type. I love the delicacy of the face against the demanding nature of the business card.  It softens that difficult thing of having to show yourself off a little!

Even better, P22 donate 20% of each sale to the Canada Type Scholarship Fund which supports higher typography education.