The “form follows function” design principle applies to modern fonts as well. Modern fonts are based on geometric lines and forms that are clean, clear, and easy to read. When a creative twist or a touch of detail is added, these fonts can easily take on a cool, contemporary style, as you will observe in some of the free fonts pictured below.
Because of the sheer elegance embodied in many of them, modern font styles have become especially popular among web designers. You’ll see them used in logos, headers, and images where they often mimic letters and characters drawn with brushes, pencil, pen, and ink or markers. Modern fonts tend to share a common characteristic – they are artistic.
Modern fonts are not all that hard to locate. The problem is, given the vast amount of online font collections that are readily available, finding the right one for your brand can require an exhaustive search. You will, however, find it quite helpful if you can visualize or sketch out the look you want before initiating your search.
It’s important to bear in mind that fonts that are a bit more edgy and artsy are best reserved for use in logos and headers. Fonts that are a bit more subdued in appearance are more suitable for use in body text. There is not as great a need for the words to stand out, plus the fact that more reserved fonts tend to be more readable.
Here is a selection of free fonts that can help you visualize your brand, and make it more recognizable to others:
HeadthinkerA sans-serif font designed by Ian Currie.
Mentone SemiBoldDesigned by Paragraph, a sans-serif font with a subtle angular feature.
Material Sans MediumSubtle rounding effects characterize this design by Davide Mottes.
CorrespondentA highly readable serif style by Ten by Twenty. Excellent for text body.
Delicious-RomanJos Buivenga’s san serif creation. A choice for branding.
Very modern, very readable, highly rated.
By Manfred Klein, a modern font with a hint of retro.
FolksDecoonA light font creation, also by Manfred Klein.
A straightforward design with a few hip nuances.
ParmaPetit-NormalAnother Manfred Klein contribution – best for logos, branding, or headers.
A solid, futuristic look – designed by Futuristic.
Why Modern Style?
Modern style font types represent the end of the evolutionary period of pen-inspired characters. This style came into being as an attempt to create a contemporary written/printed communication format. As the use transitional fonts became more widespread and gained in acceptance, there came about an awareness for a unique type design that has since become prominent throughout Europe, and especially so in Italy and France.
The Baskerville type in particular, was largely responsible for enabling printers and designers to avoid Old Style fonts and follow the practice of continually refining and perfecting font types.
The Influence of Bodoni
The modern style is not, as the name may imply, something brand new. It reached a pinnacle as the works of Bodoni became increasingly popular. Bodoni is still held in high esteem by today’s type designers in their attempts to create well-crafted renditions or make digital copies of his works. While many of these renditions are in one way or another imperfect, they nevertheless make a statement about Bodini’s influence in the world of typography.
During his illustrious career, Bodoni designed and created thousands of punches and hundreds of unique type styles. His Manual Tipografico, published in 1818, presents more than 100 Roman type styles, together with their Italic versions. Other versions include ornaments for types and types for Tibetan, Greek, Russian, and Arabic letters and characters.
Bodoni’s success as a type designer led to his being commissioned to create a royalty press by the Duke of Parma. Its purpose was to create refined published texts for the upper class, rather than for mass production. His refined eye and masterful methods, made Bodoni a perfect choice for the job. His work was deemed unsurpassed, and even legendary, by his contemporaries throughout his lifetime and beyond. Even today, it is considered by many to be unmatched.
Bodoni’s success may be due to the simple fact that his goal was to create art in typography, to pursue art for art’s sale alone, and to create beauty for the sake of beauty. He idolized the work of Baskerville, and he wanted to create a more logical form to that work. In doing so, Bodoni did not limit himself to the pen, nor to his imagination. He employed precise mathematical calculations to arrive at the finest strokes, which he would transfer to copperplate as a perfect form for printing.
It was Didot who carried the most influence with type makers and designers thirty years ago, but it was the precise work of Bodoni that still holds sway across Europe. Bodoni nevertheless respected Didot’s contributions. He even worked with some of his fonts to create the Roman Style which, compared to its predecessors, was considered to be rather radical. Bodoni’s work may have been placed on a higher pedestal by his contemporaries, but Didot’s creations are still looked upon as truly refined and creative masterpieces.