“When in doubt, simplify”: Mark Bloom on his latest release and launching CoType Foundry
Since launching his foundry in 2019, Mark has released eight new typefaces including Betatron – his latest – which is inspired by sci-fi films and Wim Crouwel’s New Alphabet.
- Ayla Angelos
- 10 November 2021
Everyone starts from somewhere, and Mark Bloom, the founder of CoType Foundry, launched his career designing night club flyers and other work for the music industry. Before this, he’d received a degree in visual communication design from Middlesex University in 1998. And just two weeks after graduating, he landed a junior design role, “and have worked in the design industry ever since,” he says. From there he went on to brand identity design, only to have been made redundant in 2009 during the worldwide recession. It was this moment that he realised he wanted to work for himself, inspiring him to launch his own studio, Mash Creative. Several years of hard work later, and he slowly gained a reputation in the design industry and started building an impressive client list to boot, which includes Pringles, Coke, Nike, Beats by Dre and many others.
Notable past highlights of Mark’s are a commission by design magazine Icon in 2010 to “rethink” the Royal Mail identity for one of its ongoing features. “As part of this ‘rethink’, I designed my first typeface to sit alongside the logo – this was aptly named RM Regular, RM standing for Royal Mail.” A couple more years down the line and his type interests grew and, in 2018 – eight years after RM Regular – he created Aeonik, his second typeface and one that he designed with his friend and ex-colleague Joe Leadbeater. “I actually sat on the original design for several years but had always planned to release it at some point,” he notes.
Then, in 2019, Mark decided to expand his interests in type even further as he launched his own type foundry – something he’s always thought of doing. As such, he created CoType Foundry which was released into the world along with four typefaces. And now, the library has doubled with eight fonts in total and two more to come. “Shortly after launching CoType Foundry,” he adds, “I quickly realised that there simply wasn’t enough hours in the day to successfully run both a design studio and a type foundry, so I made the decision to no longer take on paid client work through Mash Creative and instead focus all my efforts on growing CoType Foundry instead.” Mark couldn’t be happier with his decision, as he currently spends his day working between two passions: type and graphic design.
In terms of his process, Mark follows a succinct methodology that’s more or less the same to his graphic design – one that follows Dieter Ram’s philosophy of ‘less is more’, sprinkled with his own mantra of “when it doubt, simplify”. He adds: “I also try not to design to a trend since, like with fashion, trends can look dated after a period of time.” Instead, his projects are timeless and draw from Swiss modernist design. “Akzidenz-Grotesk was a large part of that design movement and has informed a countless number of sans-serif typefaces over the years, including some of my own, namely RM Neue and Aeonik.” The latter was conceived with the goals of making “the next Helvetica”; no doubt a mammoth task in itself. But Mark is always keen to set his standards high, and Aeonik was devised as a design that would be used universally as an everyday workhorse.
The foundry’s latest addition is a typeface named Betatron, a “hat tip” to both modern day sci-fi movies and to Wim Crouwel’s New Alphabet – a parametric typeface that was released in 1967 and displayed using horizontal and vertical strokes. Inspired by sci-fi greats like The Matrix, Tron Legacy, Ghost in the Shell and Minority Report, the outcome is at once dystopian as it is angular and new wave. Supported in 37 languages, Betatron aims to be “usable in most environments”, however, because of its quirkiness, “it does have its limitations at smaller sizes.” Therefore Mark believes Betatron will work best in headlines and displays. “I never saw Betatron as being a retail font, namely because it is quite experimental so not necessarily commercially viable. I did however still want to release it, so I made the decision to offer it for free under a Creative Commons licence.”
It’s safe to say that Mark is constantly dreaming up new typefaces, and they tend to “come from anywhere and are rarely planned in advance.” In the upcoming month or so, he will be releasing Scandium, a “contemporary sans serif with open shapes and a technical vibe inspired by the needs of the automotive industry.” Featuring a large set of icons to be used across multiple environments – from web UI to car navigation – he’s more than excited to set it free in the world. This, coupled with a new Aeonik Mono and some case studies to be shared in the future, makes Mark an exciting designer to watch closely.
Mark Bloom: CoType Foundry, Betatron (Copyright © Mark Bloom, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.