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Sutro Deluxe

The first Banner I did for Akko was certainly more of a traditional font specimen graphic, so I wanted to create something more natural this time; a cool graphic that used the typeface to it’s fullest potential. I chose Sutro Deluxe for this go around, which is a chunky, wood-type inspired typeface that has double shadows, inlines, files and shadows. I had a lot of options! It was a struggle to find the right combination of layers to create a workable design. I had 7 different designs by the end of it, and I think the one I ended up going with was the only one I’d want anyone to see (the rest have been burned).

The idea that initially popped into my head was to create a combination of bold colors and the different layering effects, along the lines of UK street artist Eine’s Alphabet City work. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a solution that didn’t feel like a poor man’s version of Eine’s letters, so after days of struggle I had to let that concept go.

Sutro is such a bold typeface that it shouldn’t be set at small sizes. I had to come up with a solution that would allow me to convey a message in a few letters so they could be large enough to show off the best assets of the font in the tight space. I had been working on another project involving maps, and I decided to bring those elements into the composition to introduce some smaller scale elements, which help to set off the graphic nature of Sutro Deluxe. Now that I had a source of small type and some line art, I had to pick the best combination of Sutro’s layers to serve the piece, and I had to decide what this was actually going to say. “BOLD!” had been my stand in word, but after introducing the map elements, something more adventurous seemed fitting. 5 characters and an exclamation point was my maximum to fit within the space, and after some trial and error (EXPLO…CRAP!!!) UP&GO was the winner.

I tried all the possible layer combinations, wanting to show off the rich, layered look the font could give you right out of the box, but in the end a simple combo ended up being the best option for this graphic: the base shadow and the inline fill. Adding a thin inline over the fill felt messy and took away from the vanishing effect the texture was giving me, and the shadow wasn’t going to work with an already nearly black letterform.Taking away the fill made the whole thing feel too linear and visually confusing. The fill and shadow combo gave it linear elements and a solid feeling without losing the personality of the font.

The last step was deciding how much texture I wanted to us within the font itself. I started by inverting a state map and laying the white country lines over the dark grey text, but I wanted to push it a little farther. I searched through stock image sites on the hunt for something appropriately adventurous, and found a really cool image on unsplash.com of a snowy hill, and after some finagling i found it gave me the ethereal quality I was looking to offset the overly in your face Sutro Deluxe.

I don’t think I loved up to the real masters of the fonts.com banner image, but I’m pleased with how this turned out and it was a real treat to get to play with such a fun typeface. You guys should give it a spin if you’re in need of something that evokes a letterpress aesthetic, with a little more detail than most block wood typefaces.