Sper is the EsadType graduation project of Lois Hinshelwood. Born from an interest in gesture and curiosity with exploring the structure of Latin letterforms. The project began by identifying a language of form and gesture in the work of sculptor Noam Gabo. Although not letters at all, some of Gabo’s drawings and prints had certain typographic qualities in terms of curve tension and counter shapes. From looking at the abstraction of shape in Gabo’s work a journey began to discover if the possibility to create a system of type based on the shapes identified in some artwork.

The family grew into something with tension at the core. Within the display style there is a strong tension between big curves and sharp angular shapes. As well as this there is a tension between the two contrasting styles. The fast and expressive display style and a rationalised geometric text are stylistic opposites but designed to be used together.

Pronounced ‘spur’, the name Sper comes from an old English name for spear. It is no longer used today and the meaning of the word is not obvious to a modern day English speaker. It makes sense for this typeface to be named after something very sharp that suggests fast movements of the hand. The connotations of a spear allude to something agile, fast, aggressive and sharp, which are qualities that the display style embodies. As well as this, having a name that is rooted in history also suits the project due to the 16th century calligraphy references that were the starting point for the design.