Spanish Calligraphic Roman?

emkeyser's picture

I am working on an exhibit of Spanish masterpieces (Goya, Picasso, Velázquez, El Greco, and Dalí) for an art museum in the US. After looking at the works and discussing the themes of the show, I am looking for a roman with a lyrical abruptness, good stroke variation, and strong italic/calligraphic qualities.

My problem is that I keep finding myself drawn to the typeface Dolphin. I really love the way some letters are drawn (a, q, l, n, u, p…) and the large x-height. The font has a lot of technical issues though, like poor kerning, oddly-drawn characters (v, y, z…), horrible italics, and caps that are mismatched to the lowercase. I am also troubled by the typeface because I can’t find any information about it aside from the fact that it comes from a foundry of dubious integrity.

I have looked at a few fonts that come close to what I am looking for, but none are home runs. The types from Feliciano are very Spanish, but too restrained. Rayuela by Alejandro Lo Celso, and Nueva by Carol Twombly are the front-runners so far. Mexica, from Kimera, is close, but a bit too flamboyant.

If anyone has more information about Bay Animation or the origins of Dolphin, I’m very interested in hearing it. It might make the giant effort needed to make Dolphin work worth it.

Otherwise, I am open to suggestions for alternatives. Are there alternatives besides a custom font? I do have a preference for OpenType fonts, but it is not a restriction.


hrant's picture

You're right about Dolphin - it's a clone of... Delphin. :-/

The main thing BTW is to figure out how much text
you need the font to carry; generally speaking the
more expressive the font the more tiring it is in
terms of reading for extended periods. Delphin for
example is not really a text font.

Feliciano: to me his work is more... continental.
Eudald for example is a revival of fonts from an
old German/Dutch type designer, Fleischmann.

Rayuela is a good choice, and quite "texty".

Avoid Nueva - it's more like a caricature.

Kimera: amazing work I've long admired, but
I agree that his fonts are too expressive here.

Check here too:
But there are many more high-quality "Latino"
foundries out there now. BTW, it all started with
the economic recession in Argentina in '99...


emkeyser's picture

It's interesting to me that Monotype classifies Delphin as celtic. Seeing it more properly kerned and with a few different characters (s, l, i, R,...), I can see why.

I typically like to employ something a little quirky, or introduce some quirks, for the titling and large display type. I agree with you about the rest though; more sedate is better. If possible, I'd like the font to do double-duty--have a display and a text weight--but am comfortable pairing up a couple fonts.

Thanks for the pointer to LatinoType.

riccard0's picture

Not exactly what you asked for, but in this thread ( you could find some suggestions and a bit of history for spanish typography.

Nick Shinn's picture

Delphin doesn’t have “proper” slanted capitals.
This is a pointed allusion to the early days of italic.
You could apply that quirk to other typefaces.

emkeyser's picture

riccard0, I did see that thread, which turned me on to Feliciano, but am not really looking for an antiqua-inspired typeface. The artists in the show span quite a time period (16th century El Greco and Velázquez up to 20th for Dalí and Picasso), so I'd rather have something that looks a bit more contemporary.

emkeyser's picture

Nick, that is a prime idea, but I don't think I will adopt it. To me, it seems that practice creates stronger ties to early italics than to Spain. It is really the calligraphic attributes that are pulling me to Delphin, even though it is not suitable.

Nick Shinn's picture

Not Spanish, but Argentine (same language): Ramiro Espinoza.
He has some interesting types:

I think that if you choose an unexpected type and treat it in a special way that thoroughly integrates with your overall design concept, then it assumes a significant connection with the content in the mind of the viewer, over-riding any preconceptions they may have (or, more likely, an informed graphic designer may have). For instance, this Afro-Uncial:

BTW, the sleeve has Braille as well.

PabloImpallari's picture

Check out 'Basile' from Darío Muhafara.

It's truly an AWESOME font.
Be sure to download the PDF to appreciate the font in all his glory.

PabloImpallari's picture

Maybe you can also try my own Kaushan script, if you need something informal.

emkeyser's picture

Nick, that's a great point, and I agree with it whole-heartedly. Most typefaces can be made to fit into aesthetics outside of their original design intent. Maybe I will give Delphin another try to see if I can work it into the titling and use Rayuela for the long texts. Thanks for the prod in that direction.

emkeyser's picture

Pablo, nice work on Kaushan. Also, thanks for pointing me to Basile. It is an extremely beautiful type, and it may work without the swashes; I will have to look closer. I am always glad to find others that are creating interesting typefaces outside of the venues I typically see in the US.

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