Bastard is a contemporary blackletter typeface and is distinguished by being one of the first to be created using a personal computer. Drawn using primitive font design software in 1988, then refined and published two years later, it was further revised in 2016 to feature an expanded character set.
William Morris said ‘the more mechanical the process, the less direct should be imitation of natural forms’. This idea—that the tool should be acknowledged in the form of the design—influenced the development of Bastard’s letterforms, directly. Bastard was assembled digitally, using a modular system. While acknowledging the rhythm and drama of the historical blackletter form, the process also transformed the typeface into something that evokes contemporary mass–production methods.
Bastard draws upon a variety of typographic sources from the Gutenberg Bible to Albrecht Dürer’s geometric experiments. Type set in the lowercase of Bastard Spindly echoes a barcode, alluding to the influence of consumerism on our modern world. Individual letterforms refer directly to fascist and consumerist concepts such as the fascist boot of the uppercase R and the Yen symbol of the uppercase Y.
The name Bastard was chosen for a number of reasons. Firstly, it confronts fascist associations with the blackletter form rather than ignoring them, politely. It also has a historic basis; it is neither a pure Textura nor a pure Fraktur font but a bastardised amalgamation of both; furthermore Bastarda is the name of a gothic script from the 14–15th century. Finally, the term ‘bastard type’ refers to a technique in metal typesetting that involves casting a typeface onto the body of a smaller or larger type in order to create an increased or decreased leading.