For 30 years the graphic designer Axel Bertram worked at creating his typefaces: He developed complete new alphabets for magazines and typewriters as well as for the constant demand for typefaces for use by commercial artists. He has developed wall charts the size of advertising posters as teaching aids for training commercial and graphic artists to write in a clean, classic cursive script. In the eighties he used the American Chyron computer to design a screen font for television. In the mid-nineties he discovered for himself the fabulous possibilities offered by the Fontographer font software program and explored them playfully. From the results of these experiments, Axel Bertram selected a design for further development. From 2003 onwards the calligrapher and type designer Andreas Frohloff collaborated with him on the further development and production of the 16 fonts of the Rabenau™ typeface family.The Rabenau font was inspired by many factors: From the fonts used as book covers to typewriter fonts and even printed material from England dating from the beginning of the nineteenth century (e.g. those used by the skilled printer William Bulmer), Rabenau's relatively high contrast is offset by some organic tapers, subtley rounded bracketed serifs, and a fairly generous x-height. This makes for a typeface that looks especially good in print.
Its broad repertoire of weights and styles - Condensed, Poster, and Shadow - give it added versatility, and make it ideal for setting both display and text in the same typeface. Throughout the heavier weights, the contrast is maintained. The Poster Italic sparkles, and will make a fine display type for dynamic headlines, or logotypes. This family of sixteen fonts works beautifully together.
All Rabenau font styles have a large set of ligatures and thus cover typical letter combinations in many European languages. Besides the standard ligatures for ff, fi and fl, letter connections are also available for tt, th and fj or ffi, ffl and ffk. The range is completed with lovely arched transitions for the characters st, ck or ct. The latter gives the font that certain something, both in continuous text and above all in headlines.
Initially, Bertram intended simply to create a typeface for his own use in book design and related projects. Over several years, as he used the typeface, Bertram continued to refine character shapes and proportions, subtly adjusting individual letters. He reconsidered the structure of every detail, from counters and stroke terminals to serifs, in the interest of making the design appealing for a wide range of applications.
“Many of my past projects play into the design,” observes Bertram, “from lettering for book covers to proprietary alphabets I’ve drawn for clients, and designs I’ve developed for educational settings. I’ve also looked to the work of early 19th century British printer and type designer, William Bulmer, for guidance.”
Well into the project, Bertram began working closely with calligrapher and type designer Andreas Frohloff, a collaboration that ultimately expanded Rabenau into a family of 16 designs – completing the transformation from a labor of love, to personal statement, to commercial product.
Bertram was born in Dresden in 1936, and studied at the Berlin Weissensee Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. In1960, he co-founded of the “Group4” art workshop, of which he remained a member until 1972. Bertram has worked as freelance graphic artist for publishers and cultural publicity media for over 45 years. He has also developed alphabets for magazines, television, branding – and even typewriters. However, none of these designs has been available commercially, as all of them are custom typefaces drawn for specific projects or corporate clients. In the mid 1990s, in addition to his on-going freelance projects, Bertram began work on a personal venture, which has culminated in the Rabenau typeface family.
Rabenau is a melding of influences, defying simple classification. The face is very much its own design. At first glance, its marked contrast in stroke weights and vertical stress suggests a heritage in neoclassical designs such as the Bodoni or Didot typefaces. Closer inspection, however, reveals baroque traits such as gently curved serif bracketing, rounded flag terminals and subtle tapering of upright strokes. The open form of the lowercase g loop even gives a nod to the transitional designs of John Baskerville. Bertram and Frohloff have given Rabenau a broad repertoire of weights and styles. The regular, book, semibold and bold weights each have italic complements. Four condensed designs, in addition to three very bold “poster” weights and a “shadow,” give the family remarkable versatility. Pronounced stroke contrast is maintained throughout the heavier weights, providing a distinctive sparkle, even at large sizes. Rabenau’s large x-height, bracketed serifs and ample proportions also ensure exceptional performance at small sizes.
The compete Rabenau family is available as a suite of OpenType® Pro fonts. These fonts, in addition to providing for the automatic insertion of ligatures, small caps and old style figures, also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.