Roberto Godofredo Arlt (1900-1942), a noted Argentinean writer from the early 20th c. had an enormous influence in the Hispanic letters. His œuvre ranks among the best within Hispanic novelists, short-story writers, and playwrights authors of all times. He was a pioneer of introducing into his stories the use of Lunfardo, the argot of Buenos Aires.
Roberto Arlt & the Lunfardo
Resulting from a mix of immigrants and farmers’ idioms with Quechua indian’s voices, the Lunfardo was a crude, living language to Arlt. It was a tangible expression of a people in permanent turmoil, social and political, people reluctant to easily accept the politeness and wooden conventions of the bourgeoisie. Arlt turned this working-class slang into a powerful means to refresh the literature spirit of the time, while exploring the realities and obscure stories of the ‘underground’ people. The compilation El Jorobadito or the novels El Juguete Rabioso, and The Seven Madmen explore with passion the life of real, imperfect human beings who must struggle with life, staking everything at each move. This was a radical, refreshing, unprecedented vision in universal literature.
By writing about the mad, the criminal, the underground people, Arlt gained the dislike of the official literary scene, as it was the case in English literature with writers such as William Burroughs or Irvine Welsh.
Buenos Aires in the twenties
In the decade of 1920 Buenos Aires was a rich scene of poetic, literary, musical, and artistic unrest. Cosmopolitan bohemians, writers, painters, sensitive ‘canillitas’ (newspapers vendors) all used to meet in cafés and boliches for a chat. These social gatherings were called the ‘tertulias’. Poet Raúl González Tuñón recalls that Roberto Arlt was a regular to those mythical places such as El Café Japonés or El Puchero misterioso where he met all those burglars, pimps, and scoundrels, all of whom were very sensitive audience to songs, poems, and social debates. There Arlt could capture all the personages he gave birth to in his stories, all of them real, all of them fellows of the tertulias.
The Arlt typeface aims to capture some of that social realism, throughout an expressive, though firm gesture. Both romans and italics fonts have capricious, impulsive characters which gain a singular, harmonious rhythm along the textline. Arlt’s vigorous counterforms and spicy atmosphere link to the Baroque and Mannerist typography of 17th and 18th centuries. Arlt text family includes roman, italic, and small caps fonts in four full weights plus all kinds of figures (lining, old style, and small cap case).
A typeface for literature
Due to its proportions and atmosphere Arlt is an appropriate typeface for composing literary texts, specially stories related to the underground world. Beware, its use in other contexts can be dangerous!
The titling Arlt fonts include roman and italic in two weights: Blanca and Negra, plus an elegant open face named Título Hueca.
Arlt 7 Locos
Inspired by the novel Seven Madmen this is an expressive set of seven carefully destroyed fonts that speak with irreverent voices.
The latest addition to the family is Lanzallamas, a dynamic font that transforms the text while you type in. A built-in cycle makes the font permutate every typed letter using the Arlt 7 Locos fonts so the whole text changes its forms as you write.
Given the natural difficulty in pronouncing “Arlt” correctly, it was decided that Arlt Deco was a good name for these two elegant, ornamental versions, ideal as initials.
In a world dominated by rationalism and allegedly neutral, emotionless corporate identity designs, types like Arlt come to be like a little slap, a word in Lunfardo secretly thrown into the cloisters of the Real Academia de Lengua Española.