The origins of Braff go back more than forty years to 1961, when Michael Harvey was beginning his career as a stone carver and graphic designer. One of his clients was Methuen, the British book publisher. Harvey’s assignment was to design a series of titling capital letters that could be used to set book jackets. He recalls, “The letters were derived from preliminary drawings made for my lettercutting work, where I thickened outlines to suggest depth.”
Many years later, the production manager who commissioned the book jacket alphabet suggested that Harvey revive the design as a digital font, with a lowercase and full complement of characters. Harvey liked the idea. Rather than work from his original drawings, however, he decided to build on the foundation of a more recent design, Strayhorn (named after Duke Ellington’s friend and songwriting collaborator, Billy Strayhorn).
“The process of designing a typeface has changed radically since 1961,” says Harvey, “but using Adobe Illustrator, then Fontographer, and drawing on Strayhorn, I got something close to the Methuen letters.” This look back at some of Harvey’s first lettering is also an homage to a great jazz musician, and is now available as a digital font.
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