New Bohemian Flare was borne of a desire to formalize a style of lettering drawn frequently at my sign shop, back when I was apprenticing: a bold thick-and-thin Roman-style letter, that flared slightly at the terminals. At the start of our year in the Typeface Design program, we were instructed to find an early source, and adapt it to suit our ends. The majiscules in this typeface family draw inspiration from the lettering of Brunelleschi’s epitaph, carved in 16th c. Florence, not far in space or time from other carved letterforms that became forebears to Hermann Zapf’s Optima, the most broadly familiar 20th c. example of a flared stroke typeface. The miniscules pull some distinctive characteristics from the epitaph alphabet, and look to Optima, and other recent revivals in this vein, for inspiration. To be most useful to me, as a signpainter, I needed much bolder and more condensed versions of the style hinted at in the Florentine prototypes, and found myself much more enthusiastic about refining the Bold Condensed and Black faces of the family.
Damon Styer owns New Bohemia Signs, in San Francisco, CA, a shop that deals exclusively in hand-painted signs. After earning a BFA in Painting, at the SF Art Institute, in 1993, he spent the rest of that decade relatively stagnant, creatively, until he started apprenticing at New Bohemia, in June 1999. Entirely too soon thereafter, for someone with scarcely any academic grounding, nor any previous work experience in lettering, to say nothing of business management, he became the sole proprietor. Gradually, working alone for some years, and practicing diligently, he’s managed to carve out a little niche for hand-lettering in the local sign market, and has accumulated enough experiential knowledge to train a possé of other painters in the shop, as well as to conduct introductory workshops, on a monthly basis, for other aspirant hand-letterers.