National Typeface Analysis and Croppings

National is a sans-serif font that places itself in the tradition of the 19th century grotesque. It was designed by Kris Sowersby in 2009, with the intention of creating a typeface for his native New Zealand. The impetus for creating the typeface came when he stumbled upon a copy of The National Grid, a design magazine in New Zealand with text set in Helvetica. Still in the depths of a Helvetica allergy at the time, he took to creating a local grotesque that would ensure that Kiwi writing could be typest with its own accent. The typeface has been adopted by Victoria University and by Methven, a New Zealand company which manufactures shower systems. Nonetheless, lincensing sales for the typeface have been far more generous outside of New Zealand. Through the co-op, Village, National has been successful, outselling his other typefaces combined.

National takes a slight spin on the original grotesque, imbuing the tradition with somewhat playful qualities. Unlike the tight horizontal terminals of fonts such as Helvetica, it has relatively-steep angled terminals making the letters seem quite open. The tail of the “Q” extends generously below the baseline, moving in a bending path rather than the rigid line more typical of the grotesque. Often, the lowercase “i” is used to represent the human figure in design and National preserves that quality quite well by using dots. A rather quirky feature to the font, which only becomes noticeable when viewed up-close, lies at the crotch of certain letters, such as the “V,” “Y,” and “X.” Instead of the stems meating at a sharp angle, they are pinched in at a bend and blunted at the crotch, as opposed to meeting directly and creating a sharp point. National’s roman lowercase “g” has a loop and a link, another quirky feature. The lowercase “a,” rather than having the stem meet the baseline directly has a tail that extends to the right.


Leave a Reply