Tosh – a primal geometric hybrid

Can a typeface channel an artistic movement? After Impressionism, some painters expressed themselves through styles called primitive or naïve. Decades into postmodernism, we still lack typefaces with that primal spirit. Tosh meets this challenge, reducing characters to their essential energy instead of their most-minimal shapes. It engages in discourse with the sans-serif genre, combining two typologies of geometric letterforms in one typeface.

Many of Tosh’s characters burst out of their boundaries, and this is a key feature of the typeface. Ligatures develop on-the-fly, not just as OpenType substitutions, because part of one letter often overlaps the next. The right side of the “k”, for instance – or either side of the “r” – naturally fuses with several other letters, including “i” and “t”. The top of Tosh’s “f” juts out over the character following it, too.

This modern hybrid mixes raw geometry, leading to the unexpected. Tosh’s design is modern: drawn, not written. Every detail was thought out in advance; even the tops of the lowercase ascenders come to the exact height as tops of the capital letters. Tosh A is the more geometric of the two variants, while Tosh B is more constructed. Tosh B also has more slab serifs for on-the-fly ligature generation, such as on the “d”, “g” and “q”, etc. A and B are both raw because their letterforms feature almost no modulation. Tosh A has some barely discernible thinning where curved elements join up against the vertical ones but many of Tosh B’s characters rely on different constructions altogether, making even that kind of finesse unnecessary. Tosh A’s capital “C”, “G”, “O”, “Q” and lowercase “a” and “e” are almost perfectly round, but Tosh B jettisons that well-trodden geometric path for letters with an even more naïve design language. Typically-circular letters have straight sides there, making them much narrower, and instead of becoming condensed, Tosh B’s lowercase letters have straight-lines applied to them in other ways, such as in the diagonal-shaped bowl of the “a” or the flat bottoms on the “b” and “e”.

Tosh’s character set includes support for languages using the Cyrillic script; indeed, the fonts include language-specific variants for Bulgarian and Serbian. In total, the typeface includes four complete sets of numerals: Tosh A and Tosh B each have lining figures in both proportional and tabular widths. Tosh B’s numerals are particularly expressive, especially the tabular “1”, the closed-top forms on the “2”, a descending “5” and the flat tops on “3” and “6”, along with the bottom of the “9”. Tosh A and Tosh B each include discretionary “ct” and “st” ligatures, and even though Tosh is primarily intended for display typography, it includes a robust collection of currency symbols. Finally, Tosh has dozens of arrows and other graphic ornaments with designs that are both reduced and playful at the same time.

This typeface has a will of its own. Tosh infuses messages with primal visual energy. The design works best when its letters are large, applied to short texts that you need to feel electric.

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Jérémie Hornus, Ilya Naumoff, Benjamin Blaess
Release date
April 2020
Language support
Afrikaans, Albanian, Asu, Basque, Belarusian, Bemba, Bena, Bosnian, Breton, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chiga, Colognian, Cornish, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Embu, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Faroese, Filipino, Finnish, French, Friulian, Galician, Ganda, German, Gusii, Hungarian, Icelandic, Inari Sami, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Jola-Fonyi, Kabuverdianu, Kalaallisut, Kalenjin, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kinyarwanda, Latvian, Lithuanian, Low German, Lower Sorbian, Luo, Luxembourgish, Luyia, Macedonian, Machame, Makhuwa-Meetto, Makonde, Malagasy, Malay, Maltese, Manx, Meru, Morisyen, North Ndebele, Northern Sami, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Oromo, Polish, Portuguese, Quechua, Romanian, Romansh, Rombo, Rundi, Russian, Rwa, Samburu, Sango, Sangu, Scottish Gaelic, Sena, Serbian, Shambala, Shona, Slovak, Slovenian, Soga, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Taita, Teso, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Upper Sorbian, Vunjo, Walser, Welsh, Zulu
Latin, Cyrillic

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