Sometimes I get the impression typefaces need to be everything these days. Bold and striking in display use, yet eminently legible in the smallest text sizes. Businesslike, yet casual. Modern, yet timeless. Big, sprawling superfamilies that manage to tackle all possible typographic challenges.
I’m not casting stones — in my efforts to promote new releases, I always try my best to single out every aspect that makes a typeface noteworthy. Inevitably, this has me contributing to the very phenomenon I mention here. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but then again it can be a refreshing change when a straightforward, compact type family shows up on my radar; a typeface with no need for gimmicks or hyperbole that does something really well.
Bligh is such a typeface. Luisa Baeta created the perfect good-natured sans serif by imbuing the neo-grotesque model with a relaxed sense of joy and a friendly personality. What’s so wonderful about Bligh is that it does so without trying too hard. It seems as if Luisa infused some of her Brazilian roots into the letterforms, slightly loosening the curves and bending the terminals just a little bit more for a warm-blooded Latin feel. The mildly condensed shapes remain very practical, all the while displaying a good-natured demeanor. Thanks to this subtle approach, Bligh eschews all caricature. It is fun without needing to be funny. This important distinction means it has a much wider typographic range.
The family is refreshingly uncomplicated: three nicely balanced weights from an airy Light over a solid Regular to a punchy Bold. Its character set is complete without being overwhelming, and has some lovely surprises in store in the form of a selection of fun dingbats. And yes, its lovely curves blossom in display sizes, while its large x-height guarantees a perfect legibility when used for body text. And yes, it adds a casual flair to formal text. And yes, although its skeleton is informed by a historical model, the face is undeniably contemporary. But all that is beside the point. Above all, Bligh is a joy to use, and will bring joy to readers.
Yves Peters is a graphic designer / rock drummer / father of three who tries to be critical about typography without coming across as a snob. Previously columnist for Typographer.org and editor-in-chief for The FontFeed, he has found a new home on Type Network. His ability to identify most typefaces on sight is utterly useless in daily life.