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DJR’s Fit flips the script

Type sorcerer Oded Ezer extends the mighty morphing display family to support the Hebrew script.

When David Jonathan Ross released his spectacular, puzzling Fit, it already carried a surprisingly large character set. Such extended language coverage is atypical for a highly stylized display face like Fit. In addition to covering Latin Extended, Cyrillic, and Greek, it also supports Vietnamese, for which Ross consulted with Donny Truong. That’s more than what many serious type families cover, but renowned Israeli designer and conceptual typographer Oded Ezer decided to up the ante. He approached Ross and asked him if he could draw a Hebrew version. Ross happily agreed to collaborate with Ezer, giving him feedback and learning a great deal about Hebrew along the way, while stressing that the intriguing expansion was entirely Ezer’s idea and the design of the Hebrew version is Ezer’s work.

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Fit Hebrew brings the cool elasticity and funky weirdness of Fit to the Hebrew script, in ten widths ranging from Skyline to Ultra Extended.

Ezer elaborated on why he undertook the task of expanding Fit with the Hebrew script: “As soon as I saw Fit, I thought it was genius.” Ezer found that Fit made excellent use of the variable-font format, a technology he finds extremely promising “even though nobody really knows yet where it is headed.” At that time, he knew of only one Hebrew variable font, so he felt confident that there was room for further exploration. Ezer reckoned he could translate Ross’ basic concept without losing the essence of the Hebrew script. Ross explained: “Fit is a very strict design that follows very strict rules. Curves are only located in the northwest and southeast corners of the characters, but does that make sense in a Hebrew design where the reading direction is opposite, from right to left? Also, there are many glyphs that share the same details, and that can get lost when you apply such a systematic design.” For Ross, one of the most interesting aspects of the collaboration was seeing how Ezer “broke” that system and came up with his own, instead of simply taking the construction of the Latin and inverting its logic.

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Instead of simply inverting Fit’s design system to accommodate the right-to-left script, Oded Ezer came up with his own rules. It’s the same Fit—but reinvented.

For his part, Ezer was fascinated by how Fit deftly mixes uppercase and lowercase letters to create an unusual, yet harmonious and exciting, text image. He emphasized that this was also possible—even necessary—for a Hebrew version, although the script is a different animal from Latin in a number of ways. Because Hebrew has neither capitals nor a lowercase, Ezer combined traditional block-script and cursive forms to emulate the dual quality of the Latin. And thus Fit Hebrew is doubly unique: it not only accomplishes everything that Fit Cyrillic, Latin, Greek, and Vietnamese do, stretching and squeezing the letters over a wide range of widths, but it also looks at Hebrew in a wholly unconventional way. Ezer admitted that mixing these two styles may create confusion but, as he wryly pointed out, “the whole typeface is quite confusing.” He concluded: “I have this mix in myself of the traditional versus the experimental, and I thought this project could be a great addition to my experimental side.”

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Because Hebrew has neither capitals nor lowercase letters, Ezer combined block-script and cursive forms to echo the alternating uppercase and lowercase in Fit Latin Extended, Cyrillic, and Greek.

The story doesn’t end here. Fit Hebrew has left Ross and Ezer wanting more, and they are currently talking about collaborating again—but maybe on a more traditional typeface this time.

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While maintaining their foundational structures, glyphs in Fit Hebrew dramatically change personality along the width scale.

Like all DJR fonts, Fit is available for print, web, app, and ePub licensing. Webfonts may be tested free for thirty days. To stay current on all things DJR, subscribe to Type Network News, our occasional email newsletter featuring font releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.