We were commissioned by Dan Solbach to create a custom typeface for the 2022 June Art Fair taking place in Basel, Switzerland.
Since 2019, the exhibition platform and gallery-led alternative to conventional art fairs has used our Diatype for its identity system; for this year’s iteration, Dan broke from the typical associations of clean Swiss modernism, asking us to transform Diatype—an expression of peak 1970s grotesques—into its “evil grunge twin.”
The June Art Fair is a highly-selective, very open-minded format, where collaboration is encouraged and a meticulously curated program promotes the work of emerging and under-recognized artists alike. It’s both established and young, serious and colorful—a tension we looked to capture with our textured sans serif, which has been paired with Dan’s own handwritten typeface.
To create the grunge look, we first printed Diatype’s full alphabet out using our studio neighbors’ old inkjet machine. Then, we photocopied it in black and white, and faxed that to a friend who has a scanner that connects to USB-C, which runs on Monterey. Finally, we live-traced this scan and took the vectors back to our Diatype Glyphs files.
As the first iteration of the June Art Fair to take place physically after two years of remote programming, alluding to a sense of tangibility and tactility fed into the mood of Dan’s overall identity system.
“The thumbprint has been our enemy for the past years,” says Dan, “seeing one left on the surface of a glass window sparked my initial idea. After so long of online life, the idea to create this grunge font, where something digital is mimicking the analogue, mimicking the tactile, felt interesting.” We’re secretly hoping that Dan will use the font beyond the 2022 identity and across other projects, and we’ve named our grunge variation Diatype Solbach with this hope in mind.
Identity Design: Dan Solbach
ABC Diatype: Dinamo (Johannes Breyer & Fabian Harb, with Elias Hanzer, Renan Rosatti, Erkin Karamemet and Rob Janes)
Custom Diatype Development: Dinamo