I had the good fortune of being asked to create a wordmark for a friend of mine, a talented musician and artist from Kassel by the name of Mayberg. He came to me with a relatively straightforward brief. He wanted classic antiqua (serifed) letters with space between them. He wanted something classy, something that had tradition, but also just enough uniqueness to be recognisable and set itself apart from other similar looking letterforms. There was also a technical problem that needed to be solved. Was it possible to preserve the finesse of a high stroke width contrast and thin serifs without compromising legibility and readability at small sizes?
The aesthetic problems were solved by drawing, thinking, listening and letting the letterforms emerge of their own accord. I initially approached the assignment like a typeface, where the letters need to work in any possible combination. I soon realised that it was wiser to approach the wordmark as whole, to draw the letters only in that specific order. It soon became clear that the R needed to stand out, it needed to escape the bounded box in which the rest of the letters were contained. It started as a more pronounced flourish and gradually, as is often the case, became more subtle. The letters also contain certain features that pay homage to the origin of Latin capital letters as we know them today, as they were drawn by the Romans. The right arm of the A has only a hint of a serif on the left, as does the top of the middle arm of the E. The strokes of the B and the R exit the stem sharply and enter the stem gently. These features emerged as a result of the brush technique used by Roman letterers. Incorporating them here adds an element of tradition as well as an element of uniqueness to the letters, seeing as they are rarely featured in contemporary letterforms.
As to the question of the thin strokes and small sizes, the solution was to create different versions of the wordmark optimised for different environments. Before the emergence of digital typeface design, letters were used in the size in which they were created. A case of 12-point metal letters was always 12 points, no larger, no smaller. Because of this, adjustments were made inherently and automatically to letters of larger and smaller sizes. A 6-point letter enlarged to 48 points would not at all resemble the native 48 point letter. A similar process was what was required for the Mayberg wordmark. At the end, we settled on two additional versions of the wordmark. The first one, Mayberg S, simply has a reduced stroke width contrast and thicker serifs. It is intended to be used in an environment where the thin strokes of the original begin to break. The second one, Mayberg Mikro, actually barely resembles the original. Rounded corners have been sharpened, certain elements have been accentuated, stroke width contrast has been further reduced and the width of the letters has been increased dramatically. This variant can be used when even the letterforms of the Mayberg S variant begin to break. This would be at extremely small sizes or on low resolution displays. Depicted above are the three variants, at different sizes. Depicted below are also the three variants, but at the same size.
The wordmark can be found on Mayberg’s website as well as on all promotional material and merchandise.
Copyright © 2021 Sheehan Shambhu Sista.
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