Jul 21, 2011

The resulting design, entitled Walker, is a variable typeface whose ultimate look and feel is determined by the designer. Walker is intended for headline purposes and thus exists as an all caps alphabet. In its base form it is a bold sans serif, a style that provides an important link to the institution’s previous typographic palettes. Describing its basic structure, Carter states, “I think of [it] rather like store window mannequins with good bone structure on which to hang many different kinds of clothing.” What distinguishes Walker from any other font are its “snap-on” serifs. By using various computer keystroke commands, the designer can choose among five different types of serifs to attach to any character. In addition, horizontal rules can be placed above and below letters to underline and/or “overline” text—a feature, like a clothesline, from which letters can be hung. To realize the technical innovation of the snap-on serifs, Carter employed a strategy similar to one he developed for Devanagari, a typeface used for Hindi text that allows dependent vowels to be typeset in the correct location of a letterform with simple keystrokes.

The Walker typeface provides a distinctive look that affords great variability in its composition. Conceptually, it represents a revision of modernist typography insofar as it focuses attention on the space between letters, words, and lines of text. The result, however, is not so much about voids as it is about spanning them, as designer Moira Cullen notes: “In Walker the serifs are the ultimate connectors, the antithesis in type of a modernist apartheid. Each character holds its own frame, but an inspired or decisive stroke can will the letterform to nuzzle its neighbour or extend an arm or leg across the white divide.”

Andrew Blauvelt, Design Director and Curator