It was not really Felix Bonge's intention to create a whole font family when, as a second year student, he began several exercises in contrast and proportion as part of the typeface design course of Professor Veljovi? at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. However, these initial studies developed into a project that Bonge persisted with over the following years while working towards his degree. He continually had new insights and ideas that he was able to exploit for his font. Of particular importance, he claims, was a calligraphy seminar, which prompted him to completely rework his concept. It took him several years before his extensive font Levato™ was ready. Although the forms of Levato are ultimately derived from Renaissance Antiqua, Bonge has slightly increased the relative contrast in his version. This gives the font a graceful appearance that is further emphasized by the reduced x-height and the associated prominence of the ascenders. And, in addition, the relatively fine serifs, which are almost linear at their ends, infuse Levato with a hint of classical Antiqua á la Bodoni. At the same time, Bonge cleverly compensates for the sterilising tendency of this font form. Soft and rounded serif attachments and rounded line apexes offset the severe nature of the font and provide it with an aura of vivacity. This effect is promoted by the calligraphic-like foot of the lowercase h, n and m and the not quite horizontal bars of the uppercase E and F. Overall, Bonge has succeeded in creating a refined and yet very dynamic typeface.
Levato is available in five weights; Light, Regular, Medium, Bold and Black, in each case with the corresponding italic versions. Bonge treats Levato Italic as a genuine cursive typeface. Its letters are thus slightly narrower than the analogous upright letters and their forms are considerably more curvilinear.
All the versions of Levato boast an enormous range of characters to meet all possible requirements. In addition to four sets of minuscule and majuscule numerals for tabular and proportional typesetting, there are also small caps, numerous ligatures, ornamental characters and even swash variants of letters. With their generous, sweeping curves, the swash variants (available as OpenType versions) can be used for striking titling effects or as initials.
“I worked on Levato every semester,” Bonge adds. “At the time I was pretty new to the world of typography. As my knowledge grew – my awareness of the vast arsenal of typographic expression – my typeface character set also grew larger and larger. As I learned about small caps, swash letters, ligatures, etc., the glyph count rose by huge blocks. Finally, the design took control over the design process, and I did what it demanded.”
Bonge’s first drawings for Levato were pencil sketches on paper, but he soon switched to building the design using FontLab software. “Later, as I added characters like the swashes, I went back to sketching very loosely on paper to get a feel for their shape,” he explains, “but the final drawings were completed on screen.”
Levato can be an excellent choice for a wide range of typographic applications, but Bonge is quick to acknowledge that he drew the typeface primarily for setting display copy. “Levato is a headline face, and its name refers to the font’s intended position at the top of the page. ‘Levato’ stems from both the Spanish elevado (high) and the English word elevated. He observes, “Levato has fine details and tight spacing – and a tendency to extravagant expression that make it especially engaging for headlines and titles. With Levato, I’d say the bigger the better!” The Levato family includes a total of 10 typefaces: five weights, ranging from light to black, each with a companion Italic. The designs are available as OpenType Pro fonts, allowing for automatic insertion of small caps, ligatures and a bevy of additional characters (including dot-swashes for the i and j). Pro fonts also offer an extended character set supporting most Central European and many Eastern European languages.
When asked about his favorite aspects of the final design, Bonge quickly answers, “I like the way the playful, almost naïve, swash and alternate characters contrast to the serious, formal shapes of the roman designs.” The vast array of standard ligatures, discretionary ligatures, swashes and alternate characters, ordinals, fractions, superscript and subscript, make Levato a versatile typeface, suitable for advertising headlines in all media, distinctive blocks of display copy and lively magazine spreads.
Additionally, the entire Levato family is available as Web fonts, from Fonts.com Web Fonts.