The Typeface: Miłosz Italic

Published:  December 22, 2011
Stephen Banham

Designer: Maria Montes
Category: Upright Italic

The original sources of inspiration in type design are as wide and varied as the typefaces themselves. While many emerge from solving specific problems, others come from very specific forms of cultural expression. Such is the case with a current typeface in progress in Melbourne, Miłosz Italic, inspired by the Lithuanian poet and writer Czesław Miłosz.

What is the reason for the typeface?
Earlier this year I studied a postgraduate course of advanced typography at Eina, School of Design and Art in Barcelona. As part of this course, we had to develop a typeface. By coincidence, I discovered an international type design competition called ‘Miłosz 2011’. The competition called for a new and original typeface suitable for publishing poet and writer Czesław Miłosz’s works in Polish and English, to commemorate the centennial of his birth. I downloaded the briefing and decided to use it to develop my typeface design even though I couldn’t enter the competition, due to time restrictions.

What inspired its design?
First, I researched Miłosz’s life, and so the design is inspired by his own cultural influences, as well as his Polish background. He describes himself as an instrument – his friend, Jeanne Hersch, said about him, “I have never seen a person so instrumental,” and so the musical note is another influence on the design. I also wanted to have decorative emphasis on those letters more frequent in Polish than in other languages: k, v, w, x, y, z.

Were there particular precedents that you built upon?
First, romantic typeface influences like Bauer Bodoni and Émigré Filosofia. Second, the Antykwa Poltawskiego typeface was a good Polish formal influence, which was also used as the chief text type for musical publications, and obviously connects with Miłosz’s instrumental self-definition. Third, I studied a number of italics that I liked, including Trinité No 3, which gave me a lot of information and helped me to measure the dimensions of the ascenders, descenders etc. Other reference points were Swash ornaments and alternates of Adobe Caslon, which I used to express vitality and rhythm.

What do you ultimately intend to do with the typeface?
As this is my first typeface, I want to continue to learn about type design and I think the best way will be to finish Miłosz completely. I’m not too sure what I want to do to ‘finish’ it, but at the moment I would like to do a bold weight, as well as small caps.

What particular problems did you experience and how did you overcome them?
One of them was learning the Fontlab software – it’s not the most user-friendly interface. It was, and still is, a big challenge for me. Also, as part of the original briefing, the font is to be used in both English and Polish, so I’ve had to study the specific diacritics of the Polish language: kropka, kreska, ogonek and kreska ukosna. Creating the lowercase ‘g’ has also been a challenge, because I wanted to follow the original shape from Antykwa Poltawskiego, but it didn’t work with my design, so I finally changed it, thanks to the advice of Laura Meseguer.

Montes was guided by the following type designers during the creation of Miłosz Italic:
Laura Meseguer –
Josep Manuel Urós –
Iñigo Jerez –

From desktop magazine.

One Response

  1. Well, actually Czesław Miłosz was more of a polish poet than lithuanian. It’s considered that way nowadays. In fact, we are calling him “Czesław Miłosz” not “Eeslovas Milošas” is on of the proof. It’s just that poland consider his works as a polish legacy, lithuania doesn’t care about him that much.

    Btw, I love the font. It’s really great.

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