Jim Ford’s Masqualero is not only named for Miles Davis, but embodies the jazz musician’s spiky personality down to every last one of its sharp serifs. Bursting with character – and plenty of intricate detailing – the typeface can be dark or light, welcoming or menacing, depending on the hand of the designer using it and the words it inhabits. Available in six different weights and italics, each of this typeface’s tailor-made characters has been designed to capture and captivate the reader.

I had so much fun test driving Masqualero. The italics are particularly beautiful and I love the contrast (and resulting rhythm) in the heavier weights. There are a few characters igk particularly that make my heart swell! They are so well crafted. The stencil and the groove are really welcome and fun editions - I also like that the stencil and the demi are well matched to work in settings together as I can see a lot of opportunities for that pairing in editorial hierarchy and book covers. It is a wonderful and really exciting typeface.

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Masqualero first popped into existence during a snowstorm, while Ford was caught up listening to Miles Davis’s song of the same name in his car. With a long way to go, and the song on repeat, Ford was able to mentally chisel out the early details of the typeface. Back at home he started sketching out the ten letters of the word, which formed the basis of the entire design.

“I like the name because it rolls off the tongue and it doesn’t mean anything,” he explains. “It’s an abstract word that Wayne Shorter came up with when he was in the band, so it’s always been about that word and that song.”

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“There’s also a lot of details in the typeface that talk about Miles Davis’s career and his personality,” he adds. “He was sharp-tongued and very opinionated, and I think he intimidated a lot of people.”

For a typeface named for a musician with a spiky personality, Masqualero stayed true to character when it came to developing the design, with the intricate details of each of its letters proving a particular challenge.

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“It has a lot of extra points that you wouldn’t see or think are there,” elaborates the designer, who credits Matthew Carter’s work as a reference. “But that’s what really gives it clarity and that sparkle. It’s all sculpted, and each letter is unique from the others.”

To create the sharp lines of the characters Ford also borrowed tricks from the world of stone-cutting, which make for particularly clean connections between the elements of each letter. He approached each glyph as if hewing “marble sculptures”, treating characters individually and refusing to rely on copy and pasting.

These methods evoke classic values and a sense of tradition, that contrast the design’s shapeshifting personality. Its dual nature allows it to change voice drastically, depending on how it’s used, capable of appearing equally menacing or sophisticated, and everything in between.

Its personality is further emphasised through its various weights, with its unique qualities particularly brought to the fore with the stencil – which conveys both the decorative nature of the typeface and its uncompromising sharpness.

Visit the Masqualero web specimen to experiment with the entire font family, including the Stencil and Groove display weights. Masqualero is included in the Monotype Library Subscription. Get unlimited access to over 2,200 font families. Try it for free.