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Gérard Mariscalchi is a self-made designer. Born in Southern France of a Spanish mother and an Italian father, he has worked as a mechanic, salesman, pilot, college teacher – even a poet (with poetry being the worst-paying of these professions, he reports.) “Throughout all this, the backbone of my career has always been design,” Mariscalchi says. “I’ve been drawing since I was five, but it wasn’t until I was twenty-four that I learned that my hobby could also help me earn a living.”
It was about this same time that Mariscalchi fell in love with type. He studied the designs of masters like Excoffon, Usherwood and Frutiger, as well as the work of calligraphers and type designers such as Plantin, Cochin and Dürer.
With such an eclectic background, it’s no surprise that Mariscalchi’s typeface designs are inspired by many sources. Baylac and Evita reflect the style of the art nouveau and art deco periods, while Marnie was created as an homage to the great Lithuanian calligrapher Villu Toots. However, the touch of French elegance and distinction Mariscalchi brings to his work is all his own.
Who says thirteen is an unlucky number? Three capitals and ten lowercase letters from a poster by L. Baylac, a relatively obscure Art Nouveau designer, served as the foundation for this typeface. The finished design has lush curves that give the face drama without diminishing its versatility. On the practical side, Baylac’s condensed proportions make it perfect for those situations where there’s a lot to say and not much room in which to say it
Mariscalchi based the design of Evita on hand lettering he found in a restaurant menu, and considers this typeface one of his most difficult design challenges. “The main problem was to render the big weight difference between the thin and the thick strokes without creating printing problems at small point sizes,” he says.
Unlike most scripts, Evita is upright, with the design characteristics of a serif typeface. Mariscalchi named the face for a close friend. The end result is a charming design that is light, airy, and slightly sassy.
Based on Art Nouveau calligraphic lettering, Marnie is elegant, inviting, and absolutely charming. Mariscalchi paid special attention to letter shapes and proportions to guarantee high levels of character legibility. He also kept weight transition in character strokes to modest levels, enabling the face to be used at relatively small sizes – an unusual asset for a formal script.
Marnie’s capital letters are expansive designs with flowing swash strokes that wrap affectionately around adjoining lowercase letters. The design easily captures the spontaneous qualities of hand-rendered brush lettering.
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