Marco is a roman typeface inspired by Renaissance Italian humanistic letterforms, and designed during the MA typeface design course the University of Reading, UK, in 2010–11.
At that time, I was deeply in love with early Italian romans like the types of Jenson and Aldus, and humanist calligraphy like that of Niccolo Niccoli. My fascination started with my graduation work at Musashino Art University which was a revival of metal Monotype Centaur; it was my attempt to digitally restore how Centaur was supposed to look. Through this work and accompanying research, I fostered appreciation for the genre which led to further pursuit in the subsequent MA project.
Liberated from the mediaeval blackletter tradition, the Renaissance humanists were figuring out the new standards of how the letters should look like. Letterforms and spacing were much lighter and had a tendency to lean to the right as if to reflect the attitude of the time. Before typographers like Nicholas Jenson and Aldus Manutius set the standard forever, earlier roman type attempts such as those by Conrad & Pannarz and Da Spira were unstable, unrefined, but much more exciting. It’s this energy that I wanted to capture in my project; a typeface that works perfectly as a roman but cannot wait to tell you a story.
As with many Reading MATD typefaces, though not mandatory for the course, Marco comes with a handful of non-Latin expansions. Though the learning experience of Greek and Cyrillic designs were certainly no small story, it was the Mongolian script that gave me thre real challenge. I wanted to work on a script that wasn’t done in the course before, and something I could respond to culturally or geographically, but not my native Japanese. Mongoloan is a connecting script much like Arabic, and always written vertically. After a ton of research including trips to both Mongolian countries, I made a new style that was a cross between calligraphic and typographic forms much like the Latin counterpart. It turned out to be a major technical undertaking more than aesthetic, which taught me a lot about how OpenType worked.
Sans serif was also explored mostly because I wanted to call it Sans Marco. Its development stopped at the end of MATD and it’s not as refined as I would like, but it nevertheless yielded the first Mongolian sans, at least for text use.
I was fortunately approached by TypeTogether for licensing negotiation. They might have expected the typeface to be ready for release relatively soon, but I kept working on it for the next three years out of dissatisfaction with its quality. I greatly appreciate the patience and guidance of everyone in the foundry, especially Veronika and José. The aforementioned Mongolian and the sans half are not included in the retail version, but you can see it in the original specimen.http://typefacedesign.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ToshiOmagari_Marco_Specimen.pdf.pdf
Marco won a honorary diploma for excellence Modern Cyrillic 2014, and typeface design in TDC vol. 27 in 2015.