Austin is a loose revival of the typefaces of Richard Austin of the late 18th century for the publisher John Bell. Working as a trade engraver Austin cut the first British modern and later the iconoclastic Scotch Roman. While Austin Text is relatively faithful to Austin's types, Austin and Austin Hairline bring in 20th century influences for a fresh new display look.
Paul Barnes drew the Austin family for Harpers & Queen magazine when Sheila Jack was creative director. Paul knew that the magazine needed a high-contrast ‘fashion’ typeface, but he saw potential to make something more distinctive and unexpected than the ubiquitous Didot. The types of Austin seemed to have great potential for interpretation. Less sharp than the British Moderns, with bracketed serifs and smooth connections between thin strokes and ball terminals, the shapes took on a slick elegance as the contrast increased. Paul fully embraced this, giving Austin the styling and sheen of 1970s advertising types, decribing the result as “Richard Austin meets Tony Stan, a British Modern as seen through the lens of 1970s New York.”
Austin is compact without being overtly condensed, allowing for longer headlines in narrower spaces that manage not to feel cramped. The extensive weight range manages to retain its elegance regardless of how heavy it gets. The extremes of the family, the Light and Ultra weights, were drawn by Berton Hasebe.
Berton Hasebe drew Austin Hairline for Alex Grossman at WSJ magazine, where it was used for enormous headlines and page-filling drop caps. It hairlines are too delicate to be practical on the web, so it is only available for use on the desktop.
Austin Text is a highly personable text face firmly in the English tradition. While Austin has a narrow proportion, Austin Text matches the comfortable proportions of Austin’s text faces and the elegance of his italics. On screen, Austin Text can effectively work as both a text face and a display face.