Emil Bertell’s jaunty script typeface Bayamo embodies all the freehand joy of traditional sign writing, but with the versatility of a digital design.
Its energetic personality is perhaps the product of the environment it was created in – a chaotic and noisy cafe filled with people, where Bertell managed to find a quiet corner to design. “I’ve built up a good ability to focus and work anywhere, no matter what,” he says.
Bayamo taps into the nostalgia for hand-crafted letterforms, recreating the freedom and vitality bestowed on them by pen and paint.
“I think they look friendly,” says Bertell. “Maybe they offer some kind of comfort too, in the same sense as anything that’s handmade by someone. They’re also easy for designers to use, because the kerning is already taken care of by the type designers – whereas you probably need to adjust a sans serif if you’re using it in a logo, for example.”
Although the designer had already created several script fonts, he wanted to adopt a slightly different approach for Bayamo. Rather than building it around the letters’ connections to one another, Bertell decided to create more ”bouncy” type that wasn’t completely connected. “I think most script fonts nowadays are either some kind of modern calligraphy, or synthetic/mechanical scripts,” he explains. “This one leans more towards a classic American sign painting tradition.”
Bayamo is the surf coach you meet on holiday, who’s loose yet professional at the same time.
Bayamo mimics the loops and flourishes of a brush, and Bertell has kept the irresistible personality of hand-painted letters while ensuring the design still works as a font. Contextual alternates are a fundamental part of the typeface, meaning lowercase letters changing depending on what’s next to them – creating more varied word shapes, and lending the design more of a “hand-made feel.”
“There’s also the whole aspect of stroke simulation,” explains the designer. “If you create a script with a fixed brush angle, it’s probably going to look like mechanical calligraphy at best. You need to trust your eyes while working with the stroke weight, and I think it’s a good idea not to polish it too much – so it doesn't lose its character.”
The typeface is easy to pair with other fonts, offering striking contrast with their letter shapes. Bertell suggests its loose forms would be the perfect foil for more square designs, particularly strong sans serifs. Its abundance of personality makes it a good choice for branding, packaging and headlines, and any other environment where designs and companies need an attention-grabbing tone of voice.
“Bayamo is the surf coach you meet on holiday, who’s loose yet professional at the same time,” says Bertell. “Always having a good time, and making everything look easy.”