Designers have admired the International Typeface Corporation’s script logo since the early 70s. Now, at long last, it's available as the Elegy™ typeface.
"Where can I get a font of the script used for the ITC® logo?” For almost four decades, this has been one of the most frequently asked questions of ITC. The answer has always been the same: “You can’t. The ITC script logo is handlettering and it is not available as a font.”
Benguiat didn’t have the time to devote an undertaking that would have been truly overwhelming before the advent of digital technology.
In 2008, thanks to the robustness of the OpenType® font format, the time seemed right to revisit the project. With Jim Wasco of Monotype Imaging has developed the Elegy™ typeface. His design embodies the grace, verve and remarkable spirit of the original ITC logo.
Elegy History II
“The idea of creating a typeface based on the ITC logo intrigued me from first time I learned that it might be a design that ITC wanted,” recalls Wasco. “I knew that there would be many challenges in developing the typeface, but I also knew that Ed Benguiat’s lettering deserved to be made into a font that graphic designers could take advantage of.” Wasco began the project by drawing the letters for the word “Hamburgefonstiv.” The word is commonly used by type designers to establish the “control” characters for the rest of the typeface design. “I was able to get most of the letters from the existing ITC logo,” Wasco says. “I used Edwardian Script, another Spencerian script that Ed Benguiat designed, and other Spencerian script models as references for drawing the missing letters.
As Benguiat predicted, the project proved to be a major undertaking; one that stretched over two years and was besieged by numerous problems and setbacks. The first issues Wasco had to tackle were the character weights and their design. Benguiat’s character designs worked fine in the logo, but according to Wasco, “weights in the lowercase of the original design caused uneven color when used to set other words. I drew the Elegy characters more even in weight to improve legibility.”
Elegy History III
Character spacing also posed a problem. “The letter spacing in the logo is quite tight,” says Wasco. “A typeface with this spacing would be difficult to read at smaller sizes. After testing the spacing several times, I came up with a good compromise that made words easy to read in smaller sizes, but still retained attractive spacing for even very large display copy.”
Wasco also wanted to retain the spontaneous and flowing quality of the logo. “I designed alternatives for each letter specifically to take advantage of OpenType’s contextual alternate feature,” said Wasco. “This feature gives the typeface the look handwritten letters by substituting alternate lowercase for specific letter combinations. It also provides initial and final strokes at the beginning and endings of words.”
The working name for the typeface during the early stages of the project was “ITC Script” – but this was changed to “Elegy” as the design neared completion. The reason for the change? “We wanted to give homage to Aaron Burns, one of the original founders of ITC and the company’s heart and soul during its formative years,” says Wasco. “The typeface is our elegy to the man and his contributions.”
The completed Elegy typeface is a thoroughly contemporary design, with the drop caps, flourishes and details Benguiat incorporated in the original logo. OpenType support has been added for old style figures, arbitrary fractions, proportional numbers, tabular numbers, discretionary ligatures and contextual alternates. The only caveat for using Elegy is that, because of its fine hairline strokes and subtle qualities, the design performs best above 18-point.
As Elegy neared completion, it was shared with Benguiat. His response was overwhelmingly positive. “WOW! It's absolutely beautiful,” he wrote after seeing the copy set with the Elegy font. “Jim Wasco did a magnificent job of turning my logo into a really great typeface design.”