Dynamic

Now that everyone has had their say about fonts like Comic Sans and Papyrus (I hope) it’s time to take a look at that curiosity known as Calypso. May it serve as an example for those that would like to mock it, and everyone can revel in their purist sense of style. Fine. Calypso is fascinating to me because it’s barely a font at all!

It was created by Roger Excoffon, a French designer, and was inspired by an interesting effect he noticed when looking through some rolled up halftone film. The font was never produced for film composite typesetting systems, and was only available as instant press-on lettering sheets and, incredibly, metal type, until recently.

No matter how unsophisticated one might consider this font, with its swiss cheesyness and considerable illegibility, it was created by a designer with a broad sense of three dimensional form. The font was an interesting experiment, it was completed as completely as possible, and the idea was never approached again. What more could one ask of a designer?

Roger Excoffon was no slacker. He designed many fonts during his career including the distinctive Antique Olive, one of the first fonts with very small ascenders and descenders. He went on to create the identity for the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, and he designed exciting and dynamic postage stamps for the country of France. Everything he created had a dynamic and energy that was exciting and representative of the time.

I’m still not sure how to utilize Calypso. It’s almost as though one needs round paper or a cylindrical screen to use it at all. Maybe fisheye glasses would help? Perhaps it could be printed on something flexible like plastic to sell something like balloons, but then, there’s already a typeface with that name for that. Oh well.

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Chris Bird is a designer for print and web specializing in the development of marketing materials for a varied spectrum of clients. He currently resides in Santa Rosa, California. His music website is at www.studio1057.com and his painting and fine arts website is located at cbird167.weebly.com