Geometry

There are various issues with setting text in geometric-based typefaces such as Futura, Avant Garde (and Alias’s Ano), as recently discussed by type designer Bruno Maag. The unforgiving and uneconomic width, similarity of character shape between bowled characters such as a,b, c, d, e, g, o, p and q, the narrow, vertical cross-shape emphasis of the f and t. Maag seemed to be dismissive of their use for body copy full-stop. I think they expressive a potent point of view, and up to a point work perfectly well in text. For a short essay, with images, I think the reader can cope with a circular single story a and a vertical t.

I drew Ano for Another Man magazine, where it was used for Issues 1–9, an extended explanation of its construction can be found in Grafik Issue 193. Anoserif was drawn for Another Magazine used from Issue 15 to the present, from Issue 20 in combination with Ano. The characteristics mentioned above are a difficult fit when applied to a serif typeface, hence the dearth of geometric serif typefaces. The single story round a and g and round bowls of other lower case letters plus serif make for a very wide letter shape. The fit is that of two ideas from different dogma, bauhaus-style constructed and mechanical geometry, and the serif, derived from writing with a brush or carving with a chisel. Parents of young children may be familiar with geometric-ish serif typefaces, existing as clumsy, simplified ’schoolbook’ versions of text typefaces, often used in childrens’ books.

Anoserif started life as a set of headline-inscription capitals for Another Man Issue 3, where the mathematics of the idea and context against Ano was self-evident. As with Ano, each weight of Anoserif was drawn in nine styles, where its mathematical circular construction is emphasised through its various versions, and weight and size combinations. When applied to a ‘standard’ alphabet the result is a characterful, widish set of characters. When set as text the result is somewhat eclectic, particularly in its Regular weight where the amount of air inside the circle-based characters emphasises their width. In the Bold weight used in the bulk of the magazine this is less evident, the effect more subtle. From Issue 20 onwards Another Magazine has been set at 9.5/13 throughout, the mix of serif and sans serif typefaces in various weights adding a freshness and typographic spark to a bookish, serious design aesthetic.

As with all type, context is all. A consistency of idea between typeface, layout and content. There is a place for an eclectic spirit in text, where the reader is evident that this spirit connects with what they are reading and the publication they are reading it in.

See more Another and Another Man in Archive and Magazine sections at alias.dj

Ano is available from fontshop.com