Jill Bell's typefaces are energetic, highly decorative, and refreshingly unpredictable. Some are friendly and childlike, while others are rough and nervous. Her latest creation is ITC Swank, a connected script whose "shabby-chic" sophistication communicates a worn elegance. Bell begins the design process "with black stuff on white paper," she explains, preferring to draw letters before she digitizes them. Often the inspiration for her typefaces comes from a piece of hand-lettering. "Bruno began as a reminder to buy cat food," she says, "and ITC Swank started out as a small bit of lettering for Wurlitzer Pianos."Bell finds that working with blocks of lettering is a good start for script typefaces. "If I'm drawing a script typeface, I have to write out sentences in the letters first," she explains. "Drawing each letter separately doesn't establish the flow and spontaneity that scripts deserve."Bell's newest design is ITC Swank. It's a somewhat tattered formal script with definite links to early copperplate scripts. Though probably not for wedding invitations, Swank's elegant underpinnings are evident, with its slightly narrow proportions and a baseline that can best be called "bouncy." Graphic designers will appreciate the abundance of swash letters, making it easy to create distinctive headlines and short blocks of copy.Bell has a fondness for the "open, genuine" quality of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. "Eastern styles incorporate the natural flow of the hand," she says. "Natural, human qualities shine through. Mistakes are accepted, not scorned as in the 'white-out' Western culture." This philosophy is evident in Bell's own designs. Whether it's ITC Clover's carefree spirit, the slightly spooky Hollyweird, Caribbean's< rustic charm or the weathered elegance of ITC Swank, there is a natural honesty in her work.
Swank supports 71 different languages such as Spanish, English, Portuguese, German and French in Latin scripts. (Please note that not all languages are available for all formats.)