Carl Crossgrove wrote hundreds of letters by hand to create Amarone, a chancery calligraphy-style typeface with some additional texture. Its range of swash caps inject fresh exuberance into the typeface—calling up images of explorers' maps and pirates—which works well on packaging, posters, and in editorial.
One of the first things you might notice about Amarone is its rough edges, which recall the inky nib that created it as well as the textured paper it was drawn on. Designer Carl Crossgrove wanted to create a typeface that would retain the feel of handwritten calligraphy, but still offer the versatility of a digital design. This meant writing hundreds of letters – all at the same size, with the same pen, and on the same paper.
Part of Amarone's charm is the contrast Crossgrove has created, drawing a spikily elegant set of calligraphic letters, but then leaving their rough edges still visible. He's also designed an extensive accompanying set of swash caps that allow the typeface to move from formal and elegant to dramatically expressive.
“Amarone has the ability to flex between being a little bit formal, without any of the swashes, to a lot more exuberant with the swashes,” he says. “But it still has that chancery structure, with classical renaissance calligraphy as the skeleton.”
When used at smaller sizes Amarone's letter shapes shine, but at larger sizes its texture comes to the fore. Its weathered appearance adds a flavor of times gone by, hinting that this is a typeface with some stories to tell.
“Right now, there's a resurgence in hand-lettering with a lot of new practitioners, and a lot more of it being used in packaging and advertising,” says Crossgrove. “I think it's the roughness itself that people crave when they've spent too much time with minimalism, geometry and simplicity. It happened before with modernism, when the fetish was so strong for minimizing things and making them into pure rectangles and circles. I think not everyone wants to live in the glass box or the concrete bunker.”
Amarone is an obvious choice for anyone wanting to borrow some old fashioned style, but also lends itself well to food packaging, movie posters, and editorial environments. Using the set of swash caps allows designers to modulate its mood and flavor, adding drama where needed and allowing Amarone to go from neat gentleman to swashbuckling pirate.