ITC Motter Sparta
Early nineties, by Othmar Motter

Journal of Type and Graphic
Design", Vol. 24, Number 3,
Winter 1997, published by
ITC International Typeface
Corporation, New York:

ITC Motter Sparta may be the first typeface based on automobile design. Austrian designer Othmar Motter was interested in breaking free from the ”nostalgic“ forms of many display types by creating a new ”language of shape“. To do this he turned to the design of cars.

”As we all know,“ says Motter, “trends in car design affect many other fields of design in a way that shapes tastes, since cars stand at the focal point of interest for the broadest layer of consumers. Why should font design be an exception?“

Motter who keeps a close eye on trends in automotive construction, saw that the latest models were moving away from the soft lines of the ’90s toward the tense ”New Edge“ ‘: ”In the latest trend, sharp, clearly-defined edges meet broadly-drawn, dynamic curves and cut them off sharply.  The coming car design is sober, not worn-out, but highly recognizable.“

In Motter Sparta, the form of each character is distinct – so much that Motter has achieved another goal, to make the typeface instantly recognizable from a single character. ”The sharp straight strokes, cut off almost at right angles, and the strong cross-stroke curves, ending in points, from a charged contrast to the vertical and horizontal straight strokes that give Motter Sparta its taut framework“, he says. Motter paid particular attention to the interior space in each character, avoiding narrow, pointed forms that might clog up at small sizes. In a few of the letters, especially A and a, the form is suggested rather than defined.

The D and F take uncial forms, halfway between capitals and lower-case. The back curves on V and v, W and w, allow them to fit together next to other letters without awkward spaces. Motter took particular care to give every letter a similar ”gray value“, so that text composed in Motter Sparta would have an even color. ITC Motter Sparta is a radical rethinking of letterforms. ”Since Motter Sparta can be combined easily with the most varied serif and sans serif faces“, says Motter, ”its uses are practically unlimited.“