Anisette has sprouted as a way to test some ideas of designs. It has started with a simple line construction (not outlines as usual) that can be easily expanded and condensed in its width in Illustrator. Subsequently, this principle of multiple widths and extreme weights permitted to Jean François Porchez to have a better understanding with the limitations associated with the use of MultipleMaster to create intermediate font weights.
Anisette built around the idea of two widths capitals can be described as a geometric sanserif typeface influenced by the 30s and the Art Deco movement. Its design relies on multiple sources, from Banjo through Cassandre posters, but especially lettering of Paul Iribe. In France, at that time, the Art Deco spirit is mainly capitals. Gérard Blanchard has pointed to Jean Francois that Art Nouveau typefaces designed by Bellery-Desfontaines was featured before the Banjo with this principle of two widths capitals. The complementarity between the two typefaces are these wide capitals mixed with narrow capitals for the Anisette while the Anisette Petite – in its latest version proposes capitals on a square proportions, intermediate between the other two others sets. Of course, the Anisette Petite fonts also includes lowercases too.
So, when Jean François Porchez has decided to create lowercases the story became more complicated. His stylistic references couldn’t be restricted anymore to the French Art-déco period but to the shop signs present in our cities throughout the twentieth century. These signs, lettering pieces aren’t the typical foundry typefaces. Simply because the influences of these painted letters are different, not directly connected to foundry roots which generally follow typography history. The outcome is a palette of slightly strange shapes, without strictly not following geometrical, mechanical and historical principles such as those that typically appear in typefaces marketed by foundries. As an example, the Anisette Petite r starts with a small and visible sort of apex that no other similar glyphs such as n or m feature, but present at the end of the l and y. The famous g loop is actually inspired by Chancery scripts, which has nothing to do with the lettering. The goal is of course to mix forms without direct reports, in order to properly celebrate this lettering spirit. This is why the e almost finishes horizontally as the Rotis – and the top a which must logically follow this principle (the original version of this a is present in the stylistic set 3) and is drawn more round-curly. This weird choice seemed so odd to its designer that he shared his doubts and asked tfor advise to Jeremy Tankard who immediately was reassuring: “Oddly, your new top a is fine, it brings roundness to the typeface, when the previous pushes towards Anisette Petite to unwanted austerity.”
The Anisette Petite, since its early days, is a mixture of non-consistent but charming shapes. Since then, the well known joys of OpenType allow variations and nuances accessible to users. This is why two main effects have been added:
1. Swashes – Some variants providing roundness and sympathy to the words l et y.
2. Titling Alternates – Variants that strengthen the geometric style of the Anisette Petite: JQR aglr.
This is why the Art-Deco S (Stylistics and Stylistic Alternates set 2) is available in capitals, small capitals and lowercase lettersand also for the a which is steeper (Stylistic Set 3). Patterns elements are also added to let users design appropriate patterns and borders with the various weights of the Anisette Petite.