Tuesday, 4 November 2008

An Introduction To The Mistral Font

The Mistral font family1 was designed by the French graphic artist Roger Excoffon for the Fonderie Olive type foundry (later taken over by Linotype) in 1953, with the Amsterdam Type Foundry also releasing a version in 1955. It is a casual script with long descenders which increase the sense of motion and the lower case letters have been carefully designed to connect on a line.

The Mistral Font
Excoffon’s vision2 when designing Mistral was to create the “handwriting of the man of the twentieth century”, “A modern handwriting perfectly free, uncodified, and spirited” which would bring a greater vivacity into French typography. To achieve his vision, Excoffen based the Mistral Font Family3 on his own handwriting style and named it4 after the strong, cold winds on Southern France.

However technological limitations at the time meant that the Font has a “heavy” look which looks like it has been written with a brush and paint rather than pen and ink.

The International Typeface Corporation (ITC) rectified this by releasing a reinterpretation of Mistral5 as Mistral Light as well reinterpretations of Excoffen's Choc and Banco font families. Designed by5 the late Phill Grimshaw, Mistral Light sees the weight of the font uniformly reduced with the weight of the thinner strokes then increased so that they didn’t disappear when reproduced at smaller sizes.

Comparisson of the Original and the redesigned Mistral font
As you can see in the above comparative image, the result is much closer to Excoffon’s vision. In redesigning Mistral, Grimshaw overcame another obstacle. Being a script typeface, Mistral cannot have an italic which is often used to show emphasis. To counter this Grimshaw designed a new set of small caps in the same weight to be used for emphasis though the original, heavier font could also be used.

Examples of the usage of the Mistral font can be found in abundance in shop signage in small cities in France as well as in Montreal as illustrated in Mistral In Montreal.

  1. Mistral (typeface), 08/05/2008, wikipedia.com, Accessed on 04/11/08
  2. Soar, 2004, Excoffon's Autograph, mattsoar.org, Accessed on 04/11/08
  3. Mistral (typeface), 08/05/2008, wikipedia.com, Accessed on 04/11/08
  4. Mistral: About this font, Accessed on 04/11/08
  5. Dreyfus, Roger Excoffen, itcfonts.com, Accessed on 04/11/08


Sam Crawshaw said...

Hey Ian. Looks good fella. Just scanning through seeing what everyone has done.

Martyn Wise said...

Looks good Ian. As with my comments on other blogs I'm not too keen on grey type on a white background, although your choice of journal font appears to make it appear a little heavier.
Quite a lot of links in the opening paragraph lead to a slight colour clash in type but, overall, well researched, written and presented with good use of modern examples in the link to the pictures.

Sam Crawshaw said...

Hey again.

Can't really fault your entry. Good to see you added a link for the ITC, something that I missed.

One slight thing: You have a carriage return before your images but not after. I suppose that's user preference though.

Easy now,

John Burrell said...

Hi Ian, nicely written and good use of hyperlinks. I thought the writing related well to your use of images.

Brad Howell said...

Hi Ian,

Looks good mate, I can’t really see much wrong with it at all.

Although there is one thing you could have done to improve it slightly, a few images of the typeface in use may have kicked it up a gear (something that I didn’t do either).



Dominic Rafter said...

Hi Ian, I won't mind to see an image showing a real live example of your font.

Tim Stringer said...

Hi Ian,

I think you have dealt with this task very well, the chunking and SPG of your entry seem to be spot on.

The only issues I have would be with the amount of links within the first paragraph this seems to distract from the content.

Also like others have mentioned the addition of real life use of the font may help to strengthen the entry even further.

Good entry Ian.

Nick Stead said...

Hi Ian,

I can't think of anything to say other than a well researched and informative post. Good use of links and some nice examples of the font in industry.

Regards, Nick

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian,

Good work, well written and well presented. I think that the colours clash a little because of the hyperlinks in the opening paragraph, so leading to possible eyestrain. However, only a small issue really.

SPG is good and so is the chunking. However, it could be broken down a little more, but it would be suitable as it is.

Well done.