Ellington, by stone carver and lettering artist Michael Harvey, has the grace and sophistication of Bodoni combined with a calligraphic zest.
Harvey drew his initial sketches for the design in 1983. After seeing the renderings a number of foundries showed interest in the project, but it was Monotype that finally won out and worked with Harvey in finalizing the design. This was in the late 1980s, well before independent typeface designers were creating and productizing their own fonts. Ultimately, Harvey delivered over one thousand drawings to Monotype Imaging for digitizing into this family of four weights plus italics.
To accommodate the needs of graphic designers, Harvey drew Ellington with a tall x-height and narrow width, giving it both economy of space in short texts and the presence to make a strong statement in display sizes. Harvey also took care to ensure that copy set in Ellington would be typographically pleasing. “I gave the letters long horizontal serifs to allow graceful spacing,” he explains. “There is a slight calligraphic feeling about these forms, and the shaping of the stems and other parts reflect my drawing style. Finally, there are no dead straight lines!”
Harvey’s passion for jazz is evident in the design’s moniker. The name Ellington “came out of the blue,” he says, but he feels it’s perfectly suited to the typeface: “I love Duke Ellington’s music and the design is elegant.” The type family was launched at Type 90 in Oxford, England, where partygoers on the last night swung to the sounds of a band playing Duke Ellington’s music.