CJ Type is the latest foundry partner to join Type Network. Although the foundry may be new, its proprietor, CJ Dunn, has been focused on type for more than a decade. Originally from Honolulu, Dunn studied art in high school and at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He made his way to New York soon after graduation, working as a graphic designer and studying type under Ed Benguiat at the School of Visual Arts.
Part of the inaugural class in the Type@Cooper post-graduate typeface design program (2010–11), Dunn joined Font Bureau in 2013, later working in design, production, and quality assurance for Webtype, Type Network, and custom clients. His first release is the geometric sans serif Dunbar, a large type family in one text and two display variants.
Over the past few decades, the type and design worlds have begun to wrestle free from the stranglehold of Helvetica and its many neo-grotesque look-alikes. Meanwhile, geometric sans serifs have experienced a resurgence in popularity. Although Futura is often considered the archetype of this typographic class, it was not the first geometric sans; Jakob Erbar’s development of his eponymous Erbar-Grotesk predates Paul Renner’s iconic design by at least a few years. Upon discovering the earliest versions of this lesser-known classic, Dunn decided to use it as a starting point for a contemporary reimagination.
Dunbar’s display styles illustrate how proportions affect the look and feel of a typeface. Dunbar Low reprises the small x-height and long ascenders of Erbar-Grotesk, signature traits which create expressive rhythm on the page. Dunn also drew a version of Dunbar with an exaggerated x-height, situated on the opposite side of the spectrum. While originally intended as a design exploration, Dunbar Tall turned out to be a striking typeface in its own right. The very tall x-height radically alters the atmosphere of the design, propelling it forward half a century from the Roaring Twenties to the heyday of the International Typeface Corporation and its punchy interpretations of iconic faces.
Optimized for use at small sizes, Dunbar Text is less extreme in its proportions; a more conservative x-height and looser letterspacing give the text enough room to breathe. As a result, Dunbar Text is surprisingly readable for this genre of sans serifs, far more than its strictly geometric cousins.
It’s gratifying to witness the evolution of an emerging design talent. “I’ve worked with CJ for almost four years and seen his growth as a type designer firsthand,” said Type Network general manager Paley Dreier. “I couldn’t be happier to see all this hard work pay off with the launch of his foundry on Type Network.”
Eighteen months after he initially conceived Dunbar, Dunn is looking forward to seeing his first release in the hands of skilled typographers.
“Dunbar is a type family for Akzidenzsatz—a jobbing face for display use and short texts, labels, banners, posters, and packaging, etc.,” he said. “It can be retro in more than one way and contemporary in another—at least this is how I imagine it. I can’t wait to see how designers use Dunbar.”