Typeface Review


Reviewed by John Butler on April 6, 2009

Alejandro Lo Celso’s latest serif family, Arlt, comprises three text weights with small caps and italics, a fourth black weight with italics, two titling weights, one open-face titling font, two decorated all-caps titling fonts, seven different distress treatments of the medium roman text weight, and one…cow?

The design reminds me of Goudy, Garamond, Baskerville, Fournier, Cochin, Bell… hard to tell exactly. Lo Celso cites “Baroque and Mannerist typography of 17th and 18th centuries” in describing its origins. It doesn’t matter to me, because I like this design more than any of its influences. (Maybe not Fournier. That’s a tough choice.) The “Locos” distressed treatments demonstrate what different algorithms can achieve in the right hands. Arlt’s breadth and variety complement its well-executed design rather than making up for an unremarkable foundation, which is sometimes a danger with other large families.

There are some very distinct glyphs (roman a, g, k, q, 2, 3, ampersand, italic g) that will make it easy to identify if you look for more than one glyph. The color is beautiful, the design is striking — too much for the type-should-be-invisible mindset — and Lo Celso either warns against its usage outside “literary contexts” or otherwise dares you to. It is his finest design to date, and in good company with the rest of his library. The site and the specimen (PDF) are worth poring over.

John Butler is a font engineering consultant and general end-user IT consultant based in Murphy, North Carolina and working in the Atlanta area. John’s work includes some of the earliest OpenType font migrations outside of Adobe and extends to other smart font technologies including Graphite and AAT.

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