Laima fonts

Typeface Review


Reviewed by Mark Jamra on December 22, 2020

Bogidar Mascareñas has done something in type design that I absolutely love: he began with a commonly known premise and took it to a place where no one has been before. Laima: a stencil? It has been called that, and I guess it could work as one, but that’s not really what it is. It’s something that started at the stencil idea and was taken to another mental space entirely. And for that alone it deserves the awards it has garnered for its creator.

Laima’s uniqueness begins innocently enough in the lighter weights. The skips in movement are closest to calligraphic convention in the italics, but when the scheme is transferred onto the roman, a line of text becomes an unexpected set of whimsical dance instructions or a frolic in the park. This is an effect of the delicate lettershapes moving through an abundance of surrounding space. The result is type that dances cheerfully across the page.

Moving past the Regular weight, Laima begins to leave a conventional orbit. Here, the increasing mass of the letter parts approaches an equilibrium with the counter shapes. The lithe dance of the lighter weights is replaced in the Bold by a hearty ripple in the space-type continuum. The breaks in form act as a pulsating disruption, like a flaw in the matrix. Suddenly, the typographic cosmos is not what we thought it was and we find ourselves looking at something remarkable and new.

If typographic fashion dictates a need for stencil designs, then hopefully Bogidar Mascareñas and Laima will inspire other type designers to look beyond mere revival and to use historical concepts as a springboard for discovering new ideas.

Mark Jamra is a type designer and recently retired professor of graphic design at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. He has designed and produced typefaces for over 35 years, and runs TypeCulture, a digital type foundry and educational resource. He is also a partner of JamraPatel, a type design studio specializing in typefaces for the writing systems of under-supported language communities in the US and abroad.

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