Jürgen Weltin’s Mantika typefaces are tricky to categorize – but easy to like and to use. His reader-friendly designs successfully meld diverse – and divergent – typographic styles. The Roman designs of Mantika Sans clearly have their roots in traditional serif typefaces, though only a hint of the original serifs has survived. The italic designs are inclined at such a slight angle that they appear to be almost upright. Mantika Informal has the easy fluidity of a script but retains the open forms of a sans serif.
Weltin drew the first member of the family, Mantika Informal, in 2010. It was designed primarily with the typesetting of children’s books in mind. The highly legible letterforms seem friendly, creating clear word-images while avoiding the hard-edged mechanical shapes typical of many typefaces used in books for young readers.
The Mantika Sans typefaces that followed two years later are an expansion of Weltin’s original vision. The new, highly legible typefaces widened the range of the family’s use. Character shapes are clear and easy to read – even at very small sizes – while the humanistic undertones give Mantika Sans a far broader reach than many sans serif typefaces.
The Mantika family is also versatile in that it can be set attractively by just about anyone. All the designs have common character widths. This means that letters or words set in any face in the family are interchangeable, having no effect on page layout or line endings. Even inexperienced graphic communicators can combine designs within the family with confidence.
Born near Lake Constance, which borders Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Weltin studied at the Technical College in Würzburg. This training netted him early stints as a graphic designer in publishing houses, design studios and industrial design firms. His love of letters, however, led him to pursue a career in the typographic arts.
Weltin’s first typeface, Finnegan, was licensed into the Linotype typeface library in 1997. A short time later, he joined The Foundry, in London, where he worked on many of the company’s custom and commercial typeface design projects.
Having left The Foundry early in 2000 to embark on a freelance career in graphic and typographic design, Weltin licensed the Balega typeface to Linotype in 2002, followed by the very large Agilita family in 2007.
Where Mantika Informal has solid organic roots, Mantika Sans is more structured and finds its base in old style, humanistic letterforms. Several design traits contribute to the high level of character legibility Weltin achieved with Mantika Sans. Subtle variations in stroke thickness and sheared terminals give the design a demeanor that evokes pre-Renaissance manuscript calligraphy. The short ascenders and descenders also provide a compactness that is underscored by the typeface’s condensed proportions. This, combined with an ample x-height, and differentiated designs for letters such as the i and l, help create a typeface with high levels of character legibility.
Mantika Sans Italic is marked by a subtle angle, distinctive character designs and flowing strokes. “Within the variety of forms of the italics are many contrasting terminal elements that produce dynamism,” explains Weltin. “The result is a distinctive interaction between rounded and angular forms.” All this makes for a typeface that can do double duty, both as a complement to the Roman designs and as a stand-alone design.
In addition to an extended Latin character set, the Mantika fonts have Pan-European glyphs, enabling the setting of Central and Eastern European languages, as well as Greek and Cyrillic. The fonts also benefit from a wide range of special symbols, including arrows, brackets, subscript and superscript lowercase letters, and multiple collections of numerals.
While primarily intended for setting blocks of copy, the Mantika family will be equally at home in advertising, signage, packaging – and even interface design. And its consistent character widths allow bold and italic designs to be switched in and out of text set in the basic weight, with no change in display line length or text column width.