Courtesy The Designer’s Foundry.

Name: Halisa
Designer: Jan Estrada-Osmycki
Foundry: The Designers Foundry
Release Date: September 2021

Back Story: The inspiration for Halisa was a single cut, uppercase-only hand-painted type seen on some old factory signage. Estrada-Osmycki was also influenced by Swiss neo-grotesque fonts but wanted to make something fresh. The designer says, “At the start, the letters were looking too much like a Microgramma/Eurostile revival and I started to be more and more interested in making a text typeface. During the process I left behind most of the eccentric decisions, taming all protruding qualities in favor of more neutral, transparent shapes and flowing text, as well as creating optical balance.”

Along the way, his drawings lost the connection with their starting point, but a geometric super-elliptic DNA persisted. Estrada-Osmycki says, “Since I was working without an actual reference, the process was full of doubts, chasing my own tail and going one step forward, three steps back—for example, finding the right proportions across all axes and optically balancing the cap-height. At the beginning, I used the same height as the ascenders, but making it a bit smaller made a huge difference. There was a constant feeling that something always needed work to balance and harmonize the typeface as a whole.”

Why’s it called Halisa? The name Halisa was created by the designer’s friend Paweł, shortened from halisuana. What is a halisuana, you may ask? Turns out it’s an entirely made-up word. “I used it as a working name, but everybody seemed to like it, so I kept it,” says Estrada-Osmycki. Refreshing! Not everything needs an intellectual raison d’être.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Halisa’s strong elliptical curves make it feel a bit squashed and boxy. Estrada-Osmycki  says, “The two-story g as a default is probably less common in this genre and I was fighting the desire to replace it with the more typical one-story g, but it makes the typeface more distinctive.” The counters in the black weights become mere slivers of white, leading to a super-dense appearance on the page or screen, but are open and airy in other weights despite the typeface’s overall condensed feeling.

What should I use it for? Halisa’s vertical and horizontal shapes work well with the limitations of a low-resolution screen. Estrada-Osmycki notes that he would love to see it carved in stone. It would also offer great contrast when used as display in either screen or print projects next to a quiet serif text face.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Wulkan Display’s sharp joins and crisp serifs make it a good partner, or try another strong serif such as Morion.