Typeface Review


Reviewed by Sol Matas on July 5, 2017

Text typefaces establish creative boundaries by challenging designers to strike a balance between legibility and aesthetics. So when we find a typeface designer who thrives on playing within these limits, we need to pay attention.

Francisco “Pancho” Gálvez Pizarro is one such designer. He has built a solid career as a type designer, writer, and teacher in his native Chile, where he works on the production of new typefaces and the training of future type designers. In 2016, he gave us a mature, vigorous family he dubbed Chercán.

For this project, Gálvez was inspired by elements from two classics he admires: the reverse modulation of Roger Excoffon’s Antique Olive, and the terminals accentuating the strokes in Frederic Goudy’s Copperplate Gothic. To pair both styles, Gálvez worked with a subtle inverted contrast. Most evident in the heavier weights, this strategy merges tradition with originality and gives the face a unique personality and exquisiteness.

Even at its most playful and creative, Chercán betrays no improvisation, which is reflected in every detail. Each glyph is meticulously delineated to find its own voice, which gives a contemporary identity to the whole set.

This quest for identity also emerges in the italics, where the Q spins around elegantly and the final letters of the alphabet (v, w, x, and y) demonstrate a graceful rhythmic synchronization.

In Chercán, we find a wonderful a that we fall in love with at first sight, a unique g with a surprising twirl, an energetic ampersand, a set of strong figures, and beautiful currency symbols that reveal a great dedication to detail. Chercán also has alternates for E, G, K, P, g and l, which allows designers to distinguish a headline or special word in a composition.

After a year of unending generic sans-serifs, I was delighted to discover Chercán and its distinctive flight.*

* Chercán is the Chilean name for the melodious bird Troglodytes aedon, or house wren, found throughout South America.

Sol Matas is a type designer from Buenos Aires currently living in Berlin and working in a very sunny studio space called Sonnenstudio. She runs Hungry Type Society, and together with Nicole Dotin, she founded Practica Program.

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