Courtesy Type-O-Tones.

Name: Sisters
Designer: Laura Meseguer
Foundry: Type-O-Tones
Release Date: May 2020

Back Story: If you have sisters, you may know very well what it’s like to create a separate family inside of a larger family—a little secret world inhabited by just the two (or more) of you. (A few years ago, my sister and I may or may not have played Mom Bingo on a vacation in order to preserve our sanity. Sample: At the restaurant, Mom is cold because somehow a draft that only she can feel is blowing on her. Bingo!)

In a similar vein, the Sisters typeface features a family within a family: it started with an only child and quickly grew to four siblings. Type-O-Tones’ co-founder Laura Meseguer was initially inspired by lettering she came across in a 1949 Catholic School leaflet at the Mercat dels Encants flea market in Barcelona. Meseguer developed the character set for Sisters based on the modular aspects of the original letterforms, reinterpreting them as stencil letters.

The inspiration for Sisters. Courtesy Type-O-Tones.

Sisters was conceived as a custom lettering project—in this case, crafted for the identity of Trans_Documentar, an exhibition at the La Panera Art Center in Lleida, Spain. The designer initially drew only the limited character set the show required, but from the outset saw great potential for a fully developed typeface. “We designed Sisters as an homage to all the creative women in this world,” Meseguer says. “For our type specimen and social media, the graphics by Gerard Joan use lyrics from female musicians such as P.J. Harvey, Bjork, and Nina Simone, and quotes from female authors including Margaret Atwood and Isabel Allende.”

Whys it called Sisters? Credit for the name goes to the good folks at Bilbao-based design firm Eider Corral. Like human siblings, each Sister’s style contains the DNA of the entire family.

What are its distinguishing characteristics? The typeface contains four all-cap fonts that share foundational principles of construction, yet complement each other (as sisters do) by celebrating their differences. Variations in contrast, weight, and design characteristics result in distinct styles dubbed Sisters One through Sister Four. Sisters One, the eldest sibling, is the starting point for the other versions. Sisters Two features a bit more contrast, and Sisters Three characters have an equalized stroke weight. The festive and retro-elegant Sisters Four adds an Art Deco touch to the letterforms of Sisters Two. Across all the families, tall thin characters such as R, P, S, and T contrast beautifully with a perfectly round, full-bellied O. The font supports Latin and Central European languages.

What should I use it for? Any of the four Sisters is an apt choice for titles and display for magazine, branding, or packaging projects where you want to add a bit of rhythm provided by the variation between narrow and wide characters.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Geometric or monospace sans serif faces feel too close—like first cousins!—to marry with the Sisters. Stick with something like Tofino for a sans serif, or Dover Text for a serif. Either can join the party like a long-lost relative.