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Kerns & Cairns / News /

Inspiration is the best medicine

Long behind the scenes, Type Network’s custom type director Dyana Weissman is now in the spotlight with her foundry and new retail face.

Inspired, curious, and energized—that’s how Dyana Weissman feels when she’s focused on type design. In a nearly two-decade career that brought her to Type Network, she has tapped that passion in her work on countless custom typefaces for major brands, such as Ford Motor Co. and The Washington Post, and in collaborations with cutting-edge creative agencies, like Pentagram and Saatchi & Saatchi. Now, with the launch of her new foundry, Kerns & Cairns, and with it the original typeface Apotek, Weissman’s work is brought into the spotlight.

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Weissman’s experience studying under Cyrus Highsmith at the Rhode Island School of Design ignited her interest in type design. Determined to continue in the field, she pestered Highsmith for a position as a teaching assistant or intern. All that persistence paid off: she started as an intern at the Font Bureau, where Highsmith was a senior designer. The prestigious foundry went on to hire her in 2002. In 2016, she transitioned into her new role as Type Network’s Custom Type Director. Weissman continues to hone her skills and speak at industry conferences about her craft and the importance of typography in branding.

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A number of Weissman’s projects have been for the branding agency loyalkaspar, a relationship she finds particularly rewarding because of their respect for time and process. “The work is never boring and I love helping them flesh ideas out,” Weissman says. For cable channels Comedy Central and SYFY, this meant turning loyalkaspar’s original sketches into fully-functional typefaces, revising the initial work, building out the character set, and adding kerning and OpenType features. In recognition of their work on the Comedy Central typeface, Weissman and Victoria Rushton—who assisted on the project—were named in the Communication Arts Award of Excellence in Typography the rebranding campaign received.

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Weissman’s talents extend beyond refining a client’s sketches. For the Waldorf Astoria, Korn Design commissioned her to develop an entirely original typeface to support the renowned hotel’s brand. The lettering on the hotel’s facade served as a starting point, but because it consisted of only 12 uppercase characters, research was necessary to translate it into a complete character set. Because the building was finished in 1931, Weissman’s main inspiration came from Art Deco typeface designs such as Bernhard by Lucian Bernhard, found in the 1934 American Type Founders’ specimen. To comply with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Weissman also drew a sans serif set of uppercase characters.

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Besides type design, another of Weissman’s favorite pursuits is hiking. These activities fuel her creativity, so Kerns & Cairns was an easy choice for the name of her new type foundry. Long in the making but well worth the wait, Apotek is a new, original typeface launching under her foundry. Apotek’s inspiration came from a 2006 trip to Norway, where Weissman spotted old medicine bottles in a museum. She appreciated the robust, square shapes and was struck by the notion that it was the first sans serif she didn’t find boring.

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The result is a refined, constructed design with rounded outsides and angular counters. The low-contrast, almost mechanical construction has been made with great care—there’s a system but Weissman knows when to make exceptions in a typographically sensitive way. Width can be adjusted independently from stroke weight—go narrow and the type appears darker as the white disappears. Apotek is a fine-grained family whose many widths make it easy to adjust designs to fit a variety of screens. For pairings look to Ibis Text, Mondial, and Gimlet Text.

Methodical and structured, Dyana Weissman is a valued member of any team, working hard to improve her own and other’s processes. As the legendary Matthew Carter puts it: “Dyana and I have worked together for several years. At first she was my understudy, but nowadays she’s usually my overstudy. I’ve learned to rely on her skillful designing and her unflappable temperament. It’s high time she had her own foundry so everybody can admire her work as much as I do.” With the launch of her foundry Kerns & Cairns, Weissman brings the same focus and precision to retail faces—we can’t wait to see more!

News flash: Get in touch with us at info@typenetwork.com if you would like to test or license the variable version, or if you have any questions about this exciting new font format. Kerns & Cairns fonts, Apotek can be licensed 24/7—for print, web, mobile apps, and ePubs. are available for desktop, web, app. Webfonts may be tested for thirty days and desktop trials are available upon request. Have a licensing question? Get in touch. To stay current on all things Kerns & Cairns and Type Network, subscribe to the Type Network News, our occasional newsletter featuring releases, foundry happenings, type and design events, and more.