Font finds: bold, elegant, and not just for memes | by Faux Icing | Mar, 2024


Lately, I’ve been delving into helping people discover new fonts, leading me to uncover intriguing typefaces and their histories. Here’s my roundup of font finds that might pique your interest.

What happens when you add serifs to a very bold sans serif? Perhaps you may imagine the title designs of Knives Out, but have a look at one of Rod McKuen’s album covers for “Seasons in the Sun” (1974):

Album artwork of Rod McKuen’s Season in the Sun.
©1974 Warner Bros. Records Inc.. Art direction and cover photo by Hy Fujita.

The font in question is a heavy sans serif called Permanent Massiv, and those teeny-looking serifs were likely not part of the original design. It was when Hy Fujita, the album’s art director, collaborated with McKuen that he decided to introduce serifs to the text. With its magnified presence seemingly bearing down on McKuen as he lies on the seashore, Permanent Massiv never appeared so staunch and dressed up.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but there’s something about the slightly stretched typography, the “tight and sometimes touching” kerning, and the ‘S’ with its serifs nearly piercing the middle of the glyph that can make the typeface feel a bit unsettling.

The 1969 book cover design of the novel “The Godfather.”
©1969 G. P. Putnam’s Sons. Cover art by S. Neil Fujita.

Hy is also the younger brother of Neil Fujita, the designer who famously hand-lettered the “Godfather” logotype (1969). Interestingly, most of the lowercase letters on the book jacket are tapered to a curved, sharp point. It’s equally intimidating to look at, but this time the custom typeface wears the serif look in a more balanced and polished manner. Whether Hy was inspired by that lettering is anyone’s guess.

Other grotesque-looking serifs, such as Helserif (1976) and Roman Grotesque (2021), have also been introduced into the market by typographers throughout the years. Are they onto something with this hybrid concept of a font? My intuition says we still need more time to digest this, especially after recovering from that unsettling, almost stomach-piercing ‘S’.


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