Jaroslav

We think of the Latin alphabet as fixed and unchanging. From history, however, we know that what we understand today as definitive and clearly codified has been examined and revised numerous times. Aside from the crowning monumental Roman capitals, this is why we know the somewhat uncouth Greek inscriptions, in old uncial manuscripts we find lush rounded shapes, and the strict, vertical (and unreadable) blackletters have been preserved from the high Middle Ages. But typographic modernism did not give up on creative experimentation. While German typographers at the beginning of the 20th century explored the possibilities and boundaries of geometrically-constructed types, Czech architects and designers sought to find a “national style,” a unique artistic language for the newly-formed state of Czechoslovakia.

While the Jaroslav type family respects efforts to find new expression in an old and seemingly exhausted Latin, it reflects everything that was to come in the last hundred years. For this reason, Jaroslav is primarily a reaction to the problem of the exaggerated unification of sans-serif letterforms. Its innovative approach to the lowercase and uppercase characters refreshes the clearly dried-up concept of the grotesque, and brings to it again the much-needed principles of freedom and creative playfulness.

The usual construction of the uppercase A is broken by a horizontal stroke in the upper part, the letter B draws from the dramatic contrast of the rounded upper part and the broken lower curve, the diagonals of K are joined to the stem by a short bar, and the tail of the Q is transformed into a strict horizontal line intersecting the letter slightly below half its height. The updated drawing of lowercase has been handled in a similarly creative way, especially the nearly-closed letter a, provided with an atypically bent lower counter, or the g with an open loop. The letters j, t and y are missing the usual outstroke in the shape of the tail, while the r is provided with a hint of a diagonal left-handed serif. The strongly asymmetrical round shapes of C, c and G have similar distinctions, which together with all the oblique ends of the instrokes, outstrokes and horizontal strokes support a clearly dynamic principle in the drawing of the grotesque.

The construction of the numbers is also distinctive, especially the lining 3, the 4 with its indications of the solution of the letters B, A; and then the oldstyle numbers 2 and 3 with their wide open curves. In addition to the tilt, a true cursive is distinguished from its regular style by a one counter solution of lowercase a, g, the sharply bent outstrokes of a, d, the arched first diagonal of k, or even the transformation of the lower horizontal z with a slanted stroke aiming deep below the baseline. The type family is made up of five weights ranging from Light to Regular, Medium, Semibold and Bold. Of course our typefaces are provided with stylistic sets with alternative lowercase (a, g, t), small capitals, indexes, tabular figures, arrows and ornaments. In addition, the alternative drawing of certain glyphs enables the originally shaped combination of ligatures, such as fb, fh, fr, tr and so on, which further expands the possibilities for expression and usage.

A turbulent time requires new types. Aside from restrained corporate graphics, the space for experimental types and original typographic solutions is at once unprecedentedly wide. And for every graphic designer satiated with traditional typefaces, a font inspired by the era of the birth of modern art is balsam for their artistic spirits and romantic political ideals. But let’s face it, Jaroslav is also an ideal font family for all lazy designers. Because contaminating a charismatic typeface with superfluous graphics would mean unnecessary work and possibly be a sin.

 

Design: Tomáš Brousil
Number of fonts in a family: 10 (Light, Light Italic, Regular, Italic, Medium, Medium Italic, Semibold, Semibold Italic, Bold, Bold Italic)
Number of glyphs per font: 781
Release date: 2017

 

OpenType Features:
All Small Caps (c2sc)
Small Capitals (smcp)
Discretionary Ligatures (dlig)
Old Style Numerals (onum)
Lining Figures (lnum)
Proportional Figures (pnum)
Tabular Figures (tnum)
Superscript (sups)
Scientific Inferiors (sinf)
Numerators (numr)
Denominators (dnom)
Fractions (frac)
Localized Forms (locl)
Standard Ligatures (liga)
Case Sensitive Forms (case)
Slashed Zero (zero)
Stylistic Sets (salt ss02 – ss05)