Extra is a display type family with 5 weights, ranging from light to black, and a stencil variant. It was created for the identity of Mumbai-based design studio, 46 & 2. The studio works extensively with branding and illustration, but a lot of their favourite projects are murals, street art, and environmental graphics, which made stencils an exciting starting point. However, most stencil typefaces I found had a very rigid and industrial aesthetic, which did not match 46 & 2’s over the top, groovy energy. There began the journey to draw Extra, a typeface with a bold personality that translates across a stencil variant, a display black, and a light weight suitable for short chunks of text.

I found inspiring references in typefaces like Stilla by Francois Boltana, and more contemporary examples like the variable font Sinewave by Superscript2. I began with drawing the black weight, which is a caricature of the lighter weights in the family. However, since so much of the typeface’s personality lay in its weight, I had to be careful not to limit the extra vibe just to its ‘blackness’, and include it in the skeleton of each letter. The biggest challenge I faced was treating the project like type design instead of lettering; since my brief needed a very expressive typeface, it was easy to overdo each letter till it was overflowing with design features. It took me half the program to realise that not every single element of my typeface needed to be super expressive, as long as the system together was.

At the end of the 5 weeks, Extra is far from perfect or done, but has been a sharp learning curve, and a project I truly had fun with. It works best when used as a display typeface in short, punchy chunks of text. Its short ascenders and descenders give it a quirky look when used in display applications, and the large x-height helps with legibility at smaller sizes.

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The 6-week type design programme that you’ve been waiting for starts on 6 June and ends 13 July 2023.
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