Blackletter typefaces follow certain fixed rules, both in respect to their forms and to the orthography. Possibly, they were a reaction to the half-developed Carolingian minuscule which was soon to end in the Latin script. Narrow, ordered script was to replace the round, hesitant and shattered shapes of letters in order to simplify writing, to unify the meaning of individual letters, and to save some parchment, too. Opposed to the practice common in monasterial scriptoriums where Uncial, Irish and Carolingian inspiration flew freely and as a result, the styles of writing differed in each monastery, the blackletter type was to define one, common standard. It was to express spiritual verticality, in perfect tune with the architecture of the Gothic era. Typography became an integral part of the overall style of the period. The pointed arch and the blackletter type were the vanguard of the spectacular transformation from the Middle Ages towards the modern era, they were a celebration of a time when works of art were not signed by their makers yet.
Some unfortunate souls keep linking blackletter solely with Germany and the Third Reich, while the truth is that its direct predecessor, the Gothic minuscule, evolved mostly in France. Even Hitler himself indicated blackletter type obsolete in the age of steel, iron and concrete – thus making a significant contribution to the spreading of the Latin script in Germany.
Once we leave our prejudice aside, we find that the shapes of blackletter type have exceptional potential, unheard of in sans-serif letterforms. The lower case letters fit into an imaginary rectangle which is easily extended both upwards and sideways. In its scope and in the name itself, the Moyenage type family project is to celebrate the diversity of the Middle Ages.
I begun realizing the urge to design my own blackletter when visiting the beer gardens of Munich and while walking through the villages of rural Austria. The letters from the notice boards of inns are scented with spring air, with the flowers of cudweed, with white sausage and weissbier. The crooked calligraphic hooks and beaks seem to imitate the hearty yodeling of local drinkers and the rustle of the giant skirts of girls who distribute the giant wreaths of beer jugs.
Moyenage is, however, a modern replica of blackletter, so it contains some otherwise unacceptable Latin script elements in upper case. I chose these keeping the modern reader in mind, striving for better legibility. The font is drawn as if written with a flat pen or brush, and with the ambition to, perhaps, serve as a calligraphic model. In medium width, the face is surprisingly well legible; it is perfect for menus as well as posters and CD covers for some of the heavier kinds of music. It has five types of numerals and also a set of Cyrillic script, symbolising the lovelorn union of Germans and Russians in the 20th century. Thus, it is well suited for the setting of bilingual texts of the German classic literature, which, according to the ancient rules, must not be set in Latin script.