Though not designed in tandem, Eric Olson’s Anchor and Nicole Dotin’s Elena were drawn with an awareness of one another, and happen to pair well. I could argue that Anchor pairs well with just about any text face given its compact structure, rounded stroke endings, and nondescript style. But particularly with Elena, Anchor lets show its best qualities in this interplay between loose and taut.
Created specifically for compact, legible headers, Anchor’s warm temperament shines at generous display sizes and cools slightly in the subhead range. With Elena, Anchor takes on a slightly more serious grotesque tone, like an Univers Ultra Condensed but without losing its Americanness, like a nice skyline gothic. As one takes Anchor up in weight, its ability to keep a straight face diminishes, particularly when displaying more involved lettershapes, like its quirky ampersand.
Anchor on the other hand plays up Elena’s lively side. Note Elena’s strong diagonal motion starting from its baseline serifs upward. Elena is a fully contemporary text face, achieving its immense readability though lessons taken from Renaissance and Neoclassical types. On its own, it’s Elena’s texture more than anything that impresses me.
Set carefully, Elena works at modest display sizes, though it’s good to keep in mind that text faces are designed to work at text sizes.
A general note on pairing: You’ll see that I rely heavily on the text face, in this case, Elena to do the heavy lifting in my compositions, and that I allow the secondary face to serve the reader primarily in navigating the piece. As mentioned before in this series, one of the challenges of practicing great typography is learning to manage the relationships between faces that take on opposite roles. To learn what each is capable of on its own isn’t enough. One rather needs to—through experience—see how the two interact in a variety of settings.
Catch another Great Pairs here on Wednesday.