Type News

Nick Shinn’s Pratt Nova released

February 12, 2015 by
David Sudweeks
David Sudweeks

When Canada’s national Globe and Mail newspaper underwent a radical redesign in 2008, type designer Nick Shinn was brought in to begin the process that would ultimately yield the Pratt, and later, Pratt Nova families.

Art Director David Pratt set the tone for the new paper design as a modernist work by prescribing that there be no justified columns of text anywhere; that all was to be set flush left with plenty of dynamic whitespace. He knew going in that he’d require a versatile serif to create both an approachable face for the paper, while maintaining a strong, type-driven design voice. Nick Shinn’s Pratt typeface came in response to these requirements and the direction that it ring the same bells as the best of Palatino and Trump Mediaeval. With iteration, additional bits of the typeface were changed, new features were rolled out, two new Display weights were cut, regular and bold, and an accompanying sans was created.

Later changes in the direction and structure of the Globe’s publications sparked another period of development for the typeface. When Adrian Norris took up the position as new director of design at the Globe and Mail, Nick was called back again to redevelop the family from its roots, this time with several parallel publications to keep in mind—a weekly Style section on coated stock, a quarterly fashion magazine, and a traditional monthly business journal.

The now retired original Pratt family, left; Pratt Nova, right.
The now retired original Pratt family, left; Pratt Nova, right.

“I created a big toolbox as it were.” Pratt Nova comprises a full, five weight family, with three optical sizes, alternate high and low contrast Heavy bolds, plus additional text cuts with small caps, alternate figures and superiors. The star of the Style section is always Pratt Nova Fine, an elegantly sharp display cut. And in contrast, the main family progresses from a finely serifed Regular to a crushing slab of a Black. “It was important that the Globe had a very heavy slab,” Nick added. “I read the Globe and Mail every day and it’s really interesting to see how different designers use different faces each week.”

On the subject of how these projects fit into his career as a type designer, Nick said that between autoinitiated and client jobs, one tends to inform the other. “Self-directed work gives me a chance to develop my skills and imagination on theoretical projects, but I’m really glad to do commission work. You can become a bit self-indulgent doing your own thing.” The above pictured Globe and Mail companion sans Sense and of course Pratt Nova are both available here at FontShop.