The Agmena typeface family is a fine melding of digital technology and beautifully crafted Renaissance fonts. Not based on any single typeface, it incorporates the finest qualities of early Roman designs, interpreting them as remarkably powerful OpenType fonts.
Jovica Veljovic is well known for his typeface designs and his masterful calligraphy. It is less widely known that Veljovic is also passionate about handsomely printed antique books. His Agmena typeface pays homage to this passion. “Though many of my typefaces are used to set books and publications,” he says, “none of them were designed specifically for this purpose.”
Veljovic originally drew what was to become Agmena as part of several book design commissions dating back to 2000. “I was able to see how the typeface performed when printed in various publications,” Veljovic recalls. “After each project, I carefully studied the results and made subtle – and sometimes not so subtle – changes to the design.” After 12 years of fine-tuning, Veljovic was ready to release Agmena as a suite of commercial fonts.
“The designs include many details that are only revealed with a close inspection,” says Veljovic. “I wanted Agmena to have the almost poetic voice of a good storyteller, one that could be enjoyed for a long time.” To achieve this, Veljovic carefully modulated and harmonized the shapes and proportion of what he refers to as the “sculptural letters” like the B, R, o, and g, with those he calls “lyric letters,” such as the S, a, and k.
The Agmena family is available in four weights, each with a complementary italic design. The lightest (book) weight was drawn to suggest the impression of handset metal type when printed on uncoated paper, while the roman weight achieves the same effect on coated stock. Semi-bold and bold weights round out the family.
Veljovic drew these typefaces with character sets that enable the setting of most Central European and many Eastern European languages. He supplemented his designs with a bevy of ligatures, swash characters and even a suite of dingbats. Not stopping there, he also designed Cyrillic and Greek versions of the Agmena alphabet. “The Cyrillics were easy,” says Veljovic, “I was born in Serbia and the Cyrillic languages are a natural for me. The Greek version of Agmena, however, posed some challenges. I do not know the Greek language,” says Veljovic, “so I studied many older Greek manuscripts and pamphlets, copying the characters as calligraphic shapes. I then used these letters as the foundation for my design. It was a time-consuming process, but I had great fun learning the letters – I even drew some special ligatures.”
Veljovic found the most difficult part of the design process to be the italic designs. “I wanted to establish the balance between the thick and thin strokes, to preserve a sense of elegance while ensuring optimum readability at small sizes.”
The complete Agmena family is available both as desktop fonts and as dynamically downloadable Web fonts.
While primarily intended for books and periodicals, Agmena can be an excellent choice whenever a warm, and highly legible, text typeface is needed. Agmena has a design personality, but it does not overpower. It performs its job – providing textual information, whether in lengthy blocks or short snippets – with verve and grace.