“Retro” scripts are an interesting beast. As can be proved with a quick look at Flickr, everyone seems to adore vintage signwriting, classic car nameplate emblems, or anything else with unique retro-ish lettering.
The irony is that such script styles, almost by definition, look so dated that they are hard to use in contemporary designs without coming off as cheeky or heavy-handed. Furthermore, many digital fonts in this vein bastardize the organic charm which attracts us in the first place. These problems are ones which Tomas Brousil’s Bistro Script overcomes.
There is no doubt that this face got its inspiration from mid-century “retro” handlettering, but BistroScript moves beyond what John Downer would call a revival, instead holding its own as a contemporary tribute to the script styles of yore. Like Underware’s Bello, BistroScript is one of few typefaces born from classic cursive brush scripts which can hold its ground in contemporary contexts without seeming gaudy or revivalistic.
Beyond endowing it with a contemporary edge, Brousil also overcame the potential sterilization of BistroScript’s calligraphic charm by supplying plenty of ligatures and glyph variants (my favorites are the ‘St’, ‘gg’, and ‘tt’ ligatures, the connecting ‘@’ variant, and the alternate ‘A’), as well as taking subtle consideration in the outlines of each glyph (for example, the dot of the ‘i’ is slightly irregular), and making sure that all the characters connect perfectly.
Especially when used with the care it deserves, BistroScript sits high on my list of contemporary script faces.
Nick Sherman is a typographer and typographic consultant based in New York City. He is a co-founder of Fonts In Use and a columnist at A List Apart. He serves on the board of directors for the Type Directors Club, and the artistic board for the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. Nick has worked at Font Bureau, Webtype, and MyFonts, directing web design and promotional material for typefaces in print and digital media.