How did Arvo's design principles contribute to its success? What's Arvo's personality? Can Arvo be conveyed in a way that pays homage to its playful and quirky nature.
A brand identity, informational spread, and video that supports Arvo's key characteristics and unique traits.
When Arvo was released as the 8th typeface on Google's Font Directory, few could have predicted its widespread success. Today, it's featured in over 600,000 websites and served over 200M times each week. In this two-week project, I examined the roots of Arvo's success and conveyed that information in a way that pays homage to Arvo's playful and quirky nature.
There was little to no information regarding Arvo on the web. The information that did exist was either impertinent, repetitive, or superficial. This led me to contact Mr. Anton Koovit, the creator of Arvo, to get his take on the typeface with emphasis on its development, purpose, and personality.
Edited for Brevity and Clarity.
1. When did you create Arvo and, more importantly, why motivations or inspirations did you have in creating Arvo?
—I didn't follow any particular model; I added serifs to one of my sketch typefaces. I had no slab family in my catalogue and was eager to create one. Before release on Google (Arvo was 8th typeface on Google fonts), I checked against Beton, Lubalin Graph and few other fonts not to repeat their mistakes. I wanted to prove that monolinear with (very) thick serifs can be legible.
2. When you created Arvo, in what types of cases did you imagine it would be used?
— It was intended in the first place as a web typeface. For all kinds of operating systems and screens. UI, Programing, easy to use true workhorse. For real world tests, I invested into an inkjet printer and checked how pixels look on paper. Got inspired by coarseness of these machines quite a bit.
3. Unlike many other slab serif web typefaces, Arvo is highly readable in a variety of contexts. Is this an assessment that you agree with?
— I agree, legiblity was really high on a list. Since i used already proven and legible model, it was fine.
4. What is Arvo's personality?
— It’s a friendly goblin, that helps you through the jungle of text.
Combining what Anton told me with what I was able to find or learn myself, I was able to get a fairly good picture of Arvo’s nuances and persona. With this newfound understanding, I narrowed into the elements I wanted to focus on. Foremost, Arvo's legibility is paramount. In fact, it was developed as a response to the illegibility of print-oriented Egyptian typefaces that dominated the early 2000's. With both print and web intentions in mind, Arvo keeps to aspects common to slab-serif typefaces like a high x-height but also uses monolinear lines to increase readability. Additionally, Arvo's not meant to be taken seriously. And, I mean this with the best of intentions. Even Koovit describes Arvo as a “friendly goblin that helps you through the jungle of text” and I could not agree more.
Conceptually, I wanted the spread to embody the same fun, quirky feeling that makes Arvo such an enjoyable font to use. Initially, I played with a red-orange color scheme. However, I felt like the colors couldn't properly convey what I wanted to express.
As soon as I saw this image, I knew it had tremendous potential. Reaching the image's potential was another story. I played with orientation and color.
The final iteration polished a lot of the rougher corners. The rollercoaster going off the top left corner, for one, is oriented towards Arvo in order to create a clear visual flow (left to right) into the title then primary text. Additionally, the color's are faded a tad in order to reference back to Arvo's slab-serif roots. Finally, an element was added to the bottom left corner to address the visually uncomfortable negative space.
In addition to the spread, I also created an accompanying video using AfterEffects.