Salvaje fonts specimen

Typeface Review

Salvaje Display

Reviewed by Sol Matas on December 16, 2019

Have you ever tried to domesticate a wild typeface? Christian Vargas has tried, and the result is magnificent.

I love it when someone has the guts to explore shapes through brushes full of ink, resulting in strokes that undergo a unique rhythmic experience. And I can’t deny my admiration for people who dare to leave behind the world of sans serifs, geometric fonts, and anything that seems to be a safe or secure path in the type industry.

Salvaje is an inverted contrast typeface whose display version, Salvaje Display, breathes freely, revealing a distinctive personality and a natural elegance.

It all started with some illustrations of birds-of-paradise, colorful birds that live deep in the woods of places like New Guinea and eastern Australia. Their sensual movements during courting rituals inspired this project. Vargas adopted a very bold attitude when mixing two starkly different universes — the natural world and the “civilized”, controlled world of type.

The beautiful curves of his drawings flow gracefully and have lovely details in their joints. These are handmade letters, expertly drawn. If you look closely at the figures, you may be able to tell that the project started there. Departing from what is conventional practice for type designers, Vargas found the seed of the design in the creation of the numerals. He then translated those features into the uppercase, lowercase, and symbols.

The shapes of the italics especially stand out; the way Vargas solved the vertical stems is a visual marvel.

The Text version (not yet released) also has great charisma, retaining the legibility necessary for its purpose. The whole set brims with authenticity, making it a real standout among last year’s releases. The wild and bold attitude remains consistent throughout the whole project and generates a high degree of visual richness.

I hope Vargas follows this exploratory path and never allows himself to be tamed.

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.

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