The idea for the 1968 Mexico Olympics logo was derived from the way the five Olympic rings can be used to form the number 68. The resulting logo borrows from traditional Mexican folk art as much as it does from ’60s Op Art. Now, nearly 50 years later, designer Thomas Jockin has created Azote, a multiline typeface very much inspired by that historic logo.
What’s the story about how this logo inspired you to create Azote?
I was brought in by an art director to review a prospective project. During the review, I was shown a sketch of a multiline alphabet done by the art director’s team. My initial reaction was, “Oh, Mexico 1968 Olympics.” Goes to show the iconic stature of that identity. It’s really become the shorthand for “multiline.”
The art director had the idea of the alphabet’s lines getting heavier. Nothing wrong with that—it’s the logical direction for a multiline typeface family. But I’m never one for the easy way. In a moment, I pitched back the entire premise of Azote: “What if the lines make the weight?”
The art director didn’t agree with my premise. To be fair to him, it was outside the scope of the project he needed at the time. And since it took another three years for me to convert that premise into an actual typeface family, his reaction is even more understandable.
It’s interesting how different Azote’s three weights look, though it’s clear they’re related. Where the mono-line Azote Light seems carefree and breezy, the two-line Azote has a solidity. And the three-line Azonte Bold has the exuberance of a neon sign. What were some of the challenges you faced in keeping them related?
My biggest challenge was one of the fundamental contradictions in type design: imposing a structure, yet not being imprisoned by that structure. Reviewing archives of Azote, the early designs were stiff. The logic of adding lines for weight was imposing a tyranny onto the letters themselves. As I worked on the project over time, I was able to breath life into the letters, but it was a long and incremental process. The letter “a” is a good demonstration of that change over time.
Azote is listed now on the “Hot New Fonts” list at Myfonts.com. Have you see it in use “in the wild” yet? Any feedback?
Azote came out a month ago. I don’t tend to see “in the wild” usages until at least one year after I have released a typeface commercially. With that said, I’m very excited to see letterpress usages of Azote. I believe it’s going to look great in letterpress applications.
Can you tell us about any new features for Azote in the future?
You bet! Assuming customer demand merits the expansions, they’ll include:
- Styles where the lines get thicker
- Small capitals
- Extended Latin language support
- Cyrillic language support