Displaay’s powerhouse sans serif Jokker combines comic book character with pragmatic legibility
“It’s definitely a character,” Displaay’s Founder & Type Designer Martin Vácha, tells us, discussing the Czech type foundry’s playful sans serif release, Jokker. “It’s a unique look that we haven’t seen on the market,” he adds, reinterpreting the ‘Grotesque’ genre with a distinctive elevated x-height. As such, the typeface – whose name is inspired by DC’s catalogue of comics – presents a contrast between legibility through its geometric forms and tight terminals, and the mysterious, strange and eccentric meaning of the word ‘grotesque’ in a non-typographic context. Opting to explore this juxtaposition, the resulting sans serif typeface is undeniably playful; discovering the character and quirks possible within pragmatic, accessible design.
“Speaking about that,” Vácha remarks, “you may notice, for example, different designs for numerals ‘6’ and ‘9,’ or a subtle serif in lowercase ‘l,’” noting the typeface’s tall x-height. “The higher ascender also makes the lowercase letters next to the uppercase letters more readable,” he explains, detailing the sense of individuality that comes from prioritising legibility and the benefits of its unique x-height. “It improves readability at smaller sizes, especially on screens,” Vácha continues, greatly benefiting any applied text, from headlines and subheadings to logotypes, whilst introducing its eccentricities in the form of short descenders and ascenders, as well as ink traps and fun alternative glyphs.
With its initial sketches dating back to 2018, Vácha recalls how Jokker found its inspiration in the simplest of places: play. “Most of our typefaces are created for a specific purpose or project, but not this time,” he explains, “Jokker was a fun challenge for us where we enjoyed the design process,” allowing themselves to craft a fun, genuinely distinctive sans serif. “It is now up to graphic designers to decide when and where to use the font,” he adds, certainly giving them enough to play with, with 7 weights and 14 individual styles. “This typeface would fit any project,” Vácha concludes, “but you probably wouldn’t expect it to be used for a tech company.”
Jokker can be explored in more detail on its own microsite, which was developed in collaboration with Milan-based practitioners Giga Design Studio and Marcello Jacopo Biffi.