Bastard is a contemporary blackletter typeface and was one of the first created using a personal computer. It was drawn using primitive font design software in 1988, and refined and published two years later. It has now been revised 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—directly influenced the development of Bastard’s letterforms. Bastard was digitally assembled using a modular system; whilst acknowledging the rhythm and drama of the historical blackletter form, this process transformed the typeface into something aligned with contemporary modes of production.
Bastard draws upon a variety of typographic sources from the Gutenberg Bible to Albrecht Dürer’s geometric experiments. The lowercase of the Spindly weight echoes the form of 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 politely ignoring them. It also has an 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.