An independent archive of typography.

Saint Etienne – So Tough album art

Contributed by Blythwood on Sep 15th, 2016. Artwork published in
February 1993
CD cover.
Saint Etienne/Heavenly Records. License: All Rights Reserved.

CD cover.

A really early use of FF Meta on the cover of Saint Etienne’s 1993 album So Tough. Definitely read the comments by designer Anthony Sweeney below.

Saint Etienne are a fairly “conceptual” group influenced by sixties pop and eighties house music — this album’s a good introduction to their work — and the retro-sixties sleeve with the track names listed is quite characteristic of their aesthetic.

I hadn’t looked at the sleeve closely for years and was quite surprised to see what now seems like a classic 90s font — I’d imagined it being something like Monotype Grotesque Condensed or Alternate Gothic.

The album title is probably in Bunny Ears, a lowercase-only version of Titanic/Hercules, with long alternates for ‘b f h k l’

[More info on Discogs]

LP front cover, Heavenly, 1993.
Source: nothingelseon. License: All Rights Reserved.

LP front cover, Heavenly, 1993.

Promo poster.
Source: © Heavenly Records/"ohnotmorestuff" on eBay. License: All Rights Reserved.

Promo poster.


  • FF Meta
  • Titanic




Artwork location

4 Comments on “Saint Etienne – So Tough album art”

  1. I was planning to add this one. And I recently got into their music. Lovely stuff.

  2. Well spotted! I was a big fan of humanist sans serif fonts at the time (before they became ubiquitous and tediously corporate) and had managed to persuade the big design group I worked for at the time to shell out a fortune on buying Meta for a big corporate job – which we didn’t use in the end. This was a cheeky bit of freelance on the side. So FF Meta was pressed into service. The ‘So Tough’ and ‘Saint Etienne’ type was drawn in Aldus Freehand from a sample on a scrap of paper supplied by Bob Stanley. There was no digitized version back then. I don’t think I even knew the name of the typeface. I recall being mildly annoyed at Bob’s insistence in using the elongated ‘h’ – but time has proved him right!

  3. Lovely to hear from you! Thanks for chiming in here, Anthony. And thanks for sharing the insights into the process.

    The ‘So Tough’ and ‘Saint Etienne’ type was drawn in Aldus Freehand

    So this cover qualifies for our custom typeface digitizations tag – added. There were two freebie digitizations, the crappy Rabbit Ears (not Bunny Ears) by David Rakowski from 1992, and Long Ears by Richard W. Mueller in 1993, which is only slightly better. It probably didn’t hurt that you drew your own.

    On Discogs, the album sleeve is credited to M Design. I assume this was your freelance moniker at the time?

  4. Hi Florian

    It was indeed. A poor attempt to hide my freelance activities from my day job. I didn’t run away to join the circus until the year after this was released. This release actually helped fund my first Macintosh.

    re. Bunny Ears/Titanic – I didn’t know there were digitized versions that existed back then – would have saved some time and hassle! The fact that they were of dubious quality would have no doubt appealed to the band!

Post a comment