by Thomas Phinney
Well, it’s finally here. Hypatia Sans Pro, the new typeface I’ve been working on since 2002, is now available (though not yet at retail). It’s a geometric sans serif with humanist tendencies, and capitals based on classical roman proportions. When you register Creative Suite 3 or any of the individual CS3 products, you can get a “registration incentive” at no extra cost, and Hypatia Sans is one of the options. I wrote up a bunch of info and made a lot of graphics for the main Hypatia Sans page, including linked high-res PDFs. Robert Slimbach was kind enough to put together a nice text samples PDF, which I got too late to put on the main Web page – so for now you can only get it here.
Do follow the links above for general info on the design – I’m not going to repeat it all here. But I will add some more background and details that might be of interest.
Mind you, “done” is a bit of a relative term in this case. You may notice the lack of italics in the registration incentive. The six upright weights of Hypatia Sans are shipping now, but it became apparent last fall that there was no way I could keep up some other critical duties and finish the italics in time to go with Creative Suite 3. So we trimmed back our original plans. The italics will still be added to the family some time later this year, at which point it will be made available as a regular retail typeface.
We wanted to simply give the italics out at no additional charge to everybody who has downloaded the upright weights as part of the registration incentive. However, it turns out that the SEC’s revenue recognition rules torpedoed that idea. Essentially, if we don’t give you all the bits in the same fiscal quarter you buy the software, we can’t book all the income from the Creative Suite 3 sales – we’d have to defer some appropriate portion until we delivered the Hypatia Sans italics! Almost makes you wish we weren’t a publicly traded company, so we wouldn’t be bound by such accounting strictures. Oh well.
I’m also pleased to be able to say that I think I have achieved my primary goal of making Hypatia Sans not suck. For a long time in the early stages of development, I couldn’t shake the sense that some part of it sucked. I could always find substantial things that were just not quite right. But things gradually got better, and I just kept on working on it. I’m grateful for Robert Slimbach‘s ongoing oversight and critiques, which went from monthly to weekly to daily as we progressed. Finally for the last four months or so I kept on feeling like it was basically there, and we were just doing tiny fine tuning. I could look at it fresh each day and think “hey, this doesn’t suck!”
So, a couple more comments on the design besides what is on the main web page… it’s named after Hypatia of Alexandria. I was looking for a classical mathematician/philosopher who was also into geometry. Also, the person needed to have a name that would be reasonably interesting, not too hard to spell, and be capable of being trademarked. That I came up with a woman to name it after was a bonus.
Before I went with “Hypatia” earlier working names were Geo and then Geode, which were rejected by our legal folks for trademark reasons. Robert had a working name for a typeface he was working on that I was very jealous of and wished I could use, because it seemed just so darned appropriate for a semi-geometric sans: “Sphere.” Unfortunately, that name got shot down for trademark reasons as well – the typeface was eventually named “Arno” after going through several other names with legal.
So, while I hope you agree that Hypatia Sans doesn’t suck, but your comments are welcome, regardless.