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Typeface Review


Reviewed by Hrant Papazian on January 25, 2012

Many fonts that start – and often end – life as a branding project tend to slap some gimmick on a pedestrian base and call it a day.

At first blush the “some-serif” nature of Swagg makes it seem like another such case, but quickly the face asserts itself as a legit, streetwise player – as its teenspeak name hints. The hefty x-height, the steep joins of the arches, the Rotis ‘c’, the bravado of the ‘r’ (where typical sans fonts lose readability through a contagion of loose spacing), the fist-pumping ‘g’ and ampersand, the fearlessly filled-in ‘@’ and ‘®’ signs all convey a carriage of youthful confidence. Paradoxically, perhaps, Swagg’s particular profusion of flavor actually makes text more readable than with a plain sans.

Swagg includes Greek in its character complement, which is highly welcome. It does, however, exhibit some problems: there’s a visible mismatch in density compared to the Latin, likely due to its marked tightness; some lowercase letters seem too narrow; in contrast to the Latin’s Italic, Greek’s strong tradition of cursive structures has been ignored; and the non-terminal sigma seems too constructed. But one thing that brings a smile to the mind is the distinctly Greek feel of the numerals. All in all, as Miller Type Foundry’s very first foray into non-Latin type, Swagg is an effort to be encouraged.

With its five weights, blowhard attitude, and good readability Swagg nicely stands out from the sans drones, earning a Strong Buy Recommendation. Early adopters of this fresh face stand to inherit its singular street cred.

Hrant Papazian is an Armenian native of Lebanon; his perspective on written communication was formed at the crossroads of three competing visual cultures. He now lives in Los Angeles. A recipient of type design awards from Critique magazine, Granshan and Creative Review, Hrant has delivered numerous presentations at international typographic conferences from Boston to Bangkok.

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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.

Set in Bureau Grot by Font Bureau, Nocturno Display by Nikola Djurek, Fern (unreleased) by David Jonathan Ross, and JAF Bernini Sans by Tim Ahrens.

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