Shakespeare’s Globe unveils typeface using intricate designs from playwright’s First Folio

On the 400-year anniversary of Shakespeare’s renowned collection of works, the theatre joins forces with Typeland for a custom season typeface.

Date
9 March 2023

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Shakespeare’s Globe has announced a new season of summer shows with a typeface that draws from the playwright’s First Folio. Printed seven years after Shakespeare's death, the Folio featured The Tempest, Comedy of Errors, As You Like It and Macbeth and is the reason audiences are still able to access these plays, as well as 14 others. Now celebrating 400 years, the 17th-century text is revisited by Shakespeare’s Globe in a new design project. Specifically, the theatre is turning a selection of ornamental editorial devices from the original text into a new typeface with south London type design studio Typeland.

The new typeface, Amifer Folio, will appear across posters advertising the new season – each are linked to the natural world through depictions of wilderness and tamed environments, a design theme that emerged in conversations between artistic director Michelle Terry and the directors of each play. The designs in the Folio offered a jump-off point to explore this theme further. “The woodcut illustrations serve as a perfect reminder of the fragility and beauty of the natural world – not only visually, but also in their scarcity, as they only exist in fewer than 200 remaining copies of the Folio,” a press release explains.

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Type Land / Shakespeare’s Globe: Amifer Folio (Copyright © Shakespeare’s Globe, 2023)

The project was initiated by Globe’s in-house design team. It entailed picking decorative patterns from the First Folio, which were originally used as illustrative devices to break up text. Typeland worked through the Folio, reworking elements to create a base thematic treatment, before creating the bespoke layer font.

“The challenge was to create combinations and variations that were intricate in their design, but that could also work across different scales,” a release explains. “This meant creating a design that would be effective at varying sizes and levels of detail, depending on how big or small the decorative initials were in a given scenario.”

The typeface uses an entirely uppercase alphabet, inspired by the decorative initials from the original Folio. For greater versatility, the Amifer Folio family features two separate styles – a simplified version in Amifer Folio Small and one with a greater number of elements and fills, “providing a more impactful presence at larger sizes”. A “peculiar cast of characters” are worked into each style, from angelic and demonic entities to gargoyles, taken from the Folio woodcuts.

GalleryType Land / Shakespeare’s Globe: Amifer Folio (Copyright © Shakespeare’s Globe, 2023)

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Type Land / Shakespeare’s Globe: Amifer Folio (Copyright © Shakespeare’s Globe, 2023)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating from the University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, Indie magazine and design studio Evermade.

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