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Typeface Review


Reviewed by Mark Jamra and William Berkson  on March 13, 2013

Agmena possesses a sublimity and subtlety hard to find in most typefaces published in recent years. It shows that rare synthesis of calculated strategy, controlled accident, and honest expression that only comes with complete mastery.

The proportions here are exquisite, and the slight hardness and diversity of details give the impression of letters that were first cut in metal. The regular and book weights have many contemporary features, but wear a patina of maturity that makes them seem like they’ve been around for centuries. At times, the bold weights are reminiscent of the playful Galliard Black, with its clever distribution of planar shapes and characteristic ink traps. On top of it all, Agmena Regular contains my favorite lowercase ‘a’ of the year.

Jovica Veljović took his time designing Agmena, using it often in his own demanding practice and repeatedly effecting adjustments in form and fit before making it available to the public. In the design of typefaces, I can’t think of a better way to guarantee a superior result and the best possible functionality.

Agmena comes from decades of experience combined with an intuitive, extra-rational process, and stands as a sublime statement exuding the richness and complexity of a fine wine. Let the masses drink their soda! This typeface is for experienced designers accustomed to working above the ordinary. MJ

The best you can say of a typeface for books is that it is an added pleasure to read a good book set in it. For that reason, I look forward to reading books in this beautiful new face from Jovica Veljović. Agmena manages to take the well-ploughed ground of the renaissance oldstyle and makes something fresh, inviting, and lovely. Agmena is more robust than the Garamond style, but manages to retain its grace. It is not particularly wide, but manages to have an inviting open appearance, particularly because of the design of the key letters ‘a’ and ‘e’, which — being both double story and frequent vowel letters — color the whole page. Many modern text faces are a bit tight, but Agmena breathes in a relaxed way on the page, giving the type its distinctive feel. Veljović explains that he was able to see his typeface in use in offset printing, and to adjust the spacing and design to achieve this welcome effect.

The beauty of the roman comes from its gentle curves that are still firmly typographic rather than calligraphic. The elegant swash characters on the italic add a softer graceful option to the pallette of the face. It has both a regular and a lighter book weight that Veljović says can be used for optical sizing, as well as semibold and bold weights with matching italics. Agmena is a full-featured OpenType font, with characters for a broad range of languages using roman type as well as Greek and Cyrillic companions. Veljović’s latest is a masterfully executed and welcome new book face. WB

Mark Jamra is a type designer, graphic designer and Associate Professor at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. He has designed and produced typefaces for over 30 years and his Expo Serif was selected for Typographica’s 2009 review. Jamra also runs TypeCulture, a foundry and educational resource for designers and students.

William Berkson is a philosopher and type designer. His revival Williams Caslon is available from Font Bureau.

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles with Caren Litherland and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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