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NEW TYPE, NEWS · May 22, 2014

Tick & Tock. Two new stencil typefaces by Cyrus Highsmith

Today we release Tick and Tock, two new typefaces by Cyrus Highsmith.

A game of chance requires some skill; a game of skill leaves little to chance. Cyrus rolled no dice for Tick and Tock; the fun he found in making legible letters using just a few parts was balanced by the challenge of following a strict system. There’s shared stencil DNA here, but they’re not exactly siblings — more like cousins on the court. Look closely to see how they each have their own strategy for working the clock and, like the best players, make the difficult look easy.

Stencils are something that Cyrus has always liked. Having taken hundreds of stencil photographs over the years, Tick and Tock were inevitable. In 2012, Tick was born on a book cover that Cyrus designed for the type design course he teaches at RISD. Later, as Tick evolved, Tock grew out of it to become a more mechanical but equally cool design. A close look at the course cover (below) seems to reveal their middle ground— the free lettering is more upright than Tick but certainly rougher than Tock.

Even though you can see one in the other, these fonts are not intended to combine. Tick and Tock have different proportions and distinct solutions for letterforms. And not all features are shared: Tick has unicase alternates (stylistic set 1) demonstrated in the first and middle lines of its specimen, but Tock does not. So what approach will you take? These two skillful typefaces open up the playing field—it should be a good game. •

The cover for Cyrus’s Fall 2012 RISD Type Design course.

One of Cyrus’s many photographs of stencils on trucks, dumpsters, freight trains, and buildings across North America.

Tick’s game: A lively day at the arcade — contextual alternates give it some bounce and unicase alternates add to the fun.

Tock’s game: Behind the podium, buzzer in hand — it’s focused and unflinching.

Like different countries with their own style of play, Tick (left) and Tock make their own moves. Compare the 2s and the Ws; the o and u combos; and the different lowercase g and a.

License Tick and Tock.
➝ Download the Tick specimen
➝ Download the Tock specimen
➝ In addition to desktop licenses, Tick and Tock are simultaneously available as webfonts from Webtype.


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