When Olicana appeared on the Typophile critique board there was an atypical outpouring of enthusiasm. Why? Maybe it was the way the font convincingly suggests the texture and flow of ink. It might have been the underlying discipline of the hand which keeps Olicana surprisingly approachable and endows it with a lovely clarity. Certainly all of these aspects must have contributed.
But I think the primary reason it was so powerfully and instantly popular was the font’s voice, a personality both complicated and unique. On the one hand it has a casual and authentic sense of vivacity and fun. On the other hand this expressiveness is intermittent; it continuously but gently teases the eye. These features are especially appealing in the context of an otherwise confident and disciplined hand.
Of course, the by now obligatory contextual features such as ligatures and end characters are present. And in addition Olicana comes with several kinds of treats. Impressively it has a rough and a smooth version which suggest the effect generated by writing on different paper stocks. It also has optional swashes which somehow increase both the sense the formality and the whimsy conveyed. And it offers ink blots and scratches which may be applied over the font to add inky verisimilitude.
Eben Sorkin is a type designer living in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. He designs fonts for Darden Studio, URW++, Google and his own foundry Sorkin Type. Eben is a member of the ATypI board.