Jason: ‘Project Kangaroo’ was the name for the joint Video On Demand service from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, today known as ‘SeeSaw’. We developed a typeface design with the clear intent that it would be used on-screen in menus and so on, but also in above and below the line advertising. This was an important factor because the font needed a feeling or vibe that allowed it to stand alone.
We worked with Rudd Studio and they created the brief for us while they developed the SeeSaw identity. We did three weights specifically designed for use on the Web. I wanted at least one identifiable letter that was a quirk. As always, I seem to go straight for the lowercase ‘g’. It was drawn so many times but I got the quirky one accepted by the client. We had finished two weights when the bloody Competition Commission rejected the entire venture! The project was shelved.
It was a great typeface design, so Fernando finished up and created more weights. We released the font later that year. By this time SeeSaw had gone live in a slightly different form; ITV had pulled out and Virgin Media and Channel 5 stepped in.
I thought that the name ‘Joey’ was a good idea as it hinted towards the original Kangaroo project. Straight away, people started to notice the typeface. I can take credit for getting the design idea right and pushing the art direction, but Fernando was key to pulling it all together and adding his own distinct flavour. It’s now one of my favourite designs in our library. That ‘g’ is great!
Fernando: FS Joey has its origins in the first big project I did together with Jason when I joined Fontsmith in 2008. We were working with Rudd Studio on the logotype for SeeSaw and like any designer, I was really excited about it, drawing and sketching lots of ideas.
Because we were dealing with an online video service, legibility on screen was one of the key elements we had to consider. And the typeface needed to have a distinct, strong and corporate feel.
Fernando: Initially we worked on designing the six letters for ‘SeeSaw’, while Rudd Studio was experimenting with an icon and how to place the letters together with it. Both studios were working closely together and Jason and I created almost a hundred different ideas for these letters.
We tried everything, from round and chubby to blocky, simple and industrial. We developed the best ones and placed them in dummy layouts to check the feel and legibility of the letters. The chosen concept was a mix of round, pleasant shapes and a modern, corporate feel. The logo kept changing but the concept and the feel had been defined.
Although its performance on screen was paramount, we weren’t afraid of experimenting and came up with some unusual ideas and features: The condensed character, the slightly curved diagonal stems, the unconventional lowercase ‘g’, the simple shape of the lowercase ‘r’, all proved to work well. We had created an exceptional corporate font that could stand strong with its distinct and unusual feel.
The project was then cancelled. We had completed a regular and a bold weight but the typeface was put on standby. We knew it was something special and kept it. We were able to release the font at the beginning of 2010, and the simplicity and familiarity of the name ‘Joey’ seemed appropriate. It soon made its way into our list of best sellers, and has a Pro version on the way soon.