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Mythologies Minos

A modular experimental typeface inspired by the great labyrinth.
01.04.2021Typography | Project: Mythologies

From my inspiration post, I laid out a project that inspired a few more projects. I sketched some letters that I thought looked cool and wanted to explore them more. This post examined that exploration. The typeface that would eventually be called Minos was inspired by these square glyphs with rectangular corners and serifs.

I brought the sketch below into the digital world and that's when I felt the inkling to pursue this project and challenge my skills of modular type design.

A big piece of all the typefaces in the Mythologies project is their modularity. I was curious how abstract I could make a letter such that it is distinct in its own right but also fits into an alphabet.

On paper, Minos is very simple. The restriction is a square, thin uniform stroke, and right-triangles in each corner if it serves the letterform well. No curves, strictly angular geometry. In my sketches, the harsh right angles meant to contrast the organic and smooth form of Aion.

Initially, I only had a few letters: A, L, E, Y, W, O, S, so the next step was to sketch the rest out. I created a first iteration.

As you can tell, even within this first round of design, I sketched out multiple versions of letters to see how their angles fit together. The goal was to vomit first and think later. You may have noticed some tick marks in the photos above. After I vomited, I went back and marked the ones that I thought preserved the letter's original shape the best (original as in the capital, sans-serif form that is familiar in our lives, with some liberties of course).

I then digitized them using Glyphs to create the first iteration.

I then made this type specimen poster, though I forgot the D. Rookie mistake.

The angular nature of the characters creates a maze-like structure, especially when there is no tracking between letters. Without the color of letters alternating between each, it would be impossible to tell that these are actual letters, something which I am sort of proud of. The abstraction is there, and once you catch a glimpse of familiarity, you search and are determined to understand each character.

I'm also glad it turned out looking somewhat of Moorish mosaic, as I am fascinated by their use in geometry and was hoping to capture it.

After I completed the first iteration of all fonts in the Mythologies series, I took a break from designing fonts. Life got busy. However, I decided to revive this project so I recreated and expanded on some of the glyphs.

I misplaced the sketchbook where I redid or revised the glyphs. Nevertheless, I did them and decided to re-digitize them too (because I lost access to Glyphs). I decided to create two weights, normal and bold. I also expanded the set to include special characters and punctuation. The ampersand was a nightmare.

Once I was satisfied with how the glyphs looked, I took some creative liberty to make more interesting graphics to show off Minos. I really vibed with a blueprint-vibe and thought the modularity and angular nature of the characters suited lent themselves well to that.

As a self-critique, Minos does not perform well at small sizes. It is more graphical than utilitarian, but I maintain that it qualifies as legible at a certain size threshold.

At first, seeing it is like a puzzle in its abstractness. Once it is found, it is hard to unsee the shape and its meaning. Perhaps, just maybe, it is just a shape, but then again, whatever font you're reading this in is too, you're just used to it.

End