Broome—A Bespoke Font Family

  • Umber Magazine is “the creative thinker’s graphic journal,” an Oakland, California-based printed publication that focuses on creative culture and visual arts from the perspective of Black & Brown people. In every release, their content is curated around a theme with an inspiring group of contributors from across the globe. Umber is more of a coffee table art book than traditional magazine.

    Launched via Kickstarter in the summer of 2017, Umber provides an engaging print media experience and complementary events that form tangible relationships and deeper connections within their growing community.

    For issue 3 of Umber, The Sound Issue, I was asked to create a bespoke typeface. By focusing on Black history, I was inspired by remnants of Broome Special Phonograph Records.

  • Established in 1919 by George Wellington Broome, from what we know, this was the first African-American owned and operated record label in the United States. There seems to be no more than about 12 titled owned under this label. Broome took a liking to concert artists and wanted to try and give black concert artists more exposure. After a concert in New York, he was able to meet and record Florence Cole-Talbert. An African-American soprano singer for Detroit Michigan. Together they record three songs on the “Brown Seal” label. It was from these records that I created Broome Sans.

  • While Broome Sans has some truly beautiful and unique characteristics, something was missing. While the historical context was there, the feeling of sound wasn’t. So, using Broome Sans as the foundation, I created Broome Sound—a 6 weight font family that turns letterforms into sound waves.

  • The idea was that Mike Nichols, founder of Umber, and his team could use these varied weights to create unique compositions, like the ones you’ve seen above—whether it’s for a title page or to highlight words that make you feel.

  • PARTNER(S): Mike Nichols, Founder of Umber
    INDUSTRY: Media
    SCOPE: Type Design
    CREDIT(S): Editorial Design by Mike Nichols, Type Design by Vocal Type Co.