Agency FB : looking for good body text pairing

I am trying to create a retro Soviet/Communist look.

Agency FB seems versatile enough to cover everything except body text and small stuff.

I found ParaType's "Textbook", which is based on a Soviet-era typeface, but it's a bit too geometric and doesn't seem to match Agency.

Any suggestions?

avanyashin's picture

As a native Russian I would suggest Rodchenko as a reference. This font depicts the early soviet era (1917-1930).

dirtcastle's picture

Thank you for the suggestions. While stylistically, the squarish and "soviet" style fonts would seem to be a good match, unfortunately, I feel they make terrible text fonts. I am leaning toward Dobra and Aaux, which fall somewhere in the middle between the overly round geometrics and the text-unfriendly squarish fonts.

That said, at larger sizes, maybe for subheaders, some of these more square and soviet-style fonts might work.

avanyashin's picture

I realized later that you asked for a text typeface.

There was a very limited amount of typefaces in Soviet Era.
Mostly Replicas of Univers where used in catalogues, magazines, soviet brochures.
Book were set in Academy(Cheltenham).

This will give you a feel a soviet era text typeface:

Dobra is too humanistic, I would prefer Aaux.

Nick Shinn's picture

The no-curves interpretation of Rodchenko's lettering is OK, as it's a style that he certainly employed.

However, I find another style of Constructivist lettering, employed by him, Stepanova, &c., more interesting.
It's where some of the letters are all sharp angles, and others have slightly curved corners.
In the bottom line of this poster, for instance, "O" is a rectangle, but "C" has the arris smoothed. Why is that?


I don't understand how a good capitalist face like Agency Gothic, designed by American Morris Benton in the 1930s, can represent the Soviet era.

What is the distinguishing feature that separates capitalist block poster lettering from that of the communists?

avanyashin's picture

Different treatment of type

dirtcastle's picture

Ah, thanks again for the thoughtful and thorough responses.

@avanyashin: Yes, I am definitely still looking for the perfect BODY TEXT match. And ya, I think you are right. For now I'm going with Aaux. In general, I have found that readability rules out a lot of faces, so I'm not gonna force it. Aaux should work for now.

@Nick: Nice example. I agree that there is not necessarily a literal connection between Agency and Communism. I guess I am trying to create a new association by virtue or my compositions (posters and spreads). This project is a satire of Communism, using a very loose stereotype of it (after all, communism is more of a theory than a practice). While I am looking to Soviet styles for inspiration, I wanted to create a look/feel that is not tied to a specific culture or time period. Agency is very square, geometric, with low contrast. To me, Agency can be presented as commanding and austere, which is the general vibe I am going for with the project.

But, yes, I agree that cultural associations with fonts can be tricky. I am definitely trying to create the context for Agency within the pieces themselves, rather than relying on prior associations. We'll see if it works.


Nick Shinn's picture

Seems very Carl Ally, Madison Avenue c.1970.
But he would have driven the association home a lot harder.
Flip the Rs, sub A by De (à la Borat).
By now, parodies of bureaucracy have been well worked, consider Font Bureau, for instance.
LOST looks like LOLCATS vs TV serial.

As with type styles, how does one differentiate capitalist bureacracy from socialist?

Pull out all stops, implement constructivist layout technique, comrade: use reversals, solids, knockouts, emphasize surface plane of layout.
At very least, no-curves Rodchenko-Stepanova lettering would be better.
Or use Industria Inline, that would be a cool irony.

Queneau's picture

Very nice stuff. I don't know if I get the communist connection though, that's a little lost one me. I don't know how important it is for you to get this a across. If it is I would try to give it al a slightly more worn look, as these are meant for the 'masses'. They just might be too well composed. I think Agency is OK, whough another typeface might help to get the idea across. I was thinking of Quanta, which has the stencil look as well. Also have a look at Prop-A-Ganda fonts, especially Revolucion.

As for text, how about FB Nobel, or perhaps Endurance Pro? (Endurance Pro family now dead cheap at only 35 bucks for the whole family!) There also is a condensed version.

dirtcastle's picture

AWESOME FEEDBACK COMRADES! This gives me a lot of options and some valuable perspective. I am now becoming aware of how the capitalists have infected me with false design impressions of Communism. ;-)

To give some background on the project, these are concept sketches for my Theory & Innovation class. The assignment is to write a manifesto and then create a methodology. My manifesto is the "Communist Designers Manifesto".

Nick Shinn's picture

Have you read the Constructivist Manifesto?
It's in one of those Stephen Heller "texts on design" compilations, IIRC.
But be careful, it may inspire you to take to denounce the authorities and take to the barricades.

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