“I originally drew the primary characters with a felt tip marker, scanned them and then proceeded to noodle on the computer,” says George Ryan of his new typeface, Koorkin. “Over the years, I’ve designed many original typefaces, but Koorkin has become one of my favorites. I’ve worked on hundreds of highly structured text faces. For the most part, the roots of all of them can be found in the handwritten letterforms we learn as children. I enjoy going back to these shapes whenever the opportunity presents itself. ”The happy result of Ryan‘s felt tip marker sketches and his love of simple letterforms is a new family of upright and italic scripts in medium and bold weights.
Ryan’s first drawings for Koorkin were part of a branding project in the late 1990s. “But the project didn’t pan out,” recalls Ryan. “The commission was withdrawn and the product the typeface was intended to brand never saw the light of day.” After the project was dropped, Ryan saved his drawings, keeping them in a drawer for over 10 years. “I really liked the basic design, but because of restrictions imposed by the client, it also had traits that I wasn’t fond of.”
One evening, Ryan came across his drawings, remembered what he had liked about the design and decided that, with a few changes, it could be “dusted off” and made into a fresh typeface. The “few changes” grew into many – and the basic character set specified by the original client was increased several fold. Ryan enlarged the design’s x-height, put the stroke weights on a strict diet and subtly modulated them to add interest. Once these changes were completed, Ryan also decided to add a bold design and italic complements to the original single-weight family.
The name Koorkin? It’s an homage to Ryan’s Armenian father-in-law’s first name.
Ryan is now in his fourth decade of designing typefaces. In 1978 he was managing the production side of a quick print shop on Long Island when he decided it was time to find a better career. “I went on just one interview,” he says, “and was hired by Mergenthaler Linotype as a ‘letter drawer’ – a job title I still like.”
After four years at Mergenthaler, Ryan went to work for Bitstream, where he stayed for 13 years before joining other Bitstream employees in starting a new digital type foundry called Galapagos Design Group. In 2003, Ryan left Galapagos to join Monotype Imaging where, in addition to drawing original designs like Koorkin, he works on custom typeface design projects. Other typefaces from Ryan include the Oz Handicraft, ITC Kristen, Givens Antiqua and Wedding Singer designs.
The Koorkin family is available as a suite of OpenType Pro fonts, allowing for the automatic insertion of ligatures, old style figures and a bevy of alternate characters. “These support the handwritten style of the design,” says Ryan. “For instance, a word such as ‘breeze’ set in Koorkin can have three slightly different e’s.” Pro fonts also include an extended character set that supports most Central European and many Eastern European languages – and, in Koorkin’s case, Vietnamese.
Koorkin can be used in a range of display applications, from headlines to signage. The upright versions also perform comfortably as friendly faces in short blocks of copy. Fun, casual, and versatile – Koorkin is a personable addition to the Monotype typeface library.