Lyra is an Italian Renaissance script that might have developed if metal type had not broken the evolution of broad pen calligraphy. It lies in the area between the humanist bookhand and the chancery cursive, combining the fullness and articulation of the Roman letters with a moderate italic slant and condensation. A steep pen-angle allows use of a broader pen relative to the x-height, giving the letters more contrast with light verticals and heavy curves. Lyra embodies the Renaissance spirit of refining technical advances of the late middle ages with reintroduction of ancient classical principles. Based on the moving penstroke with constantly changing pen-angle, it brings the vitality of handwriting to the ordered legibility of type.
Lyra is a formal italic, too slow for copying books. By eliminating the element of speed, digital technology opens up a new level of calligraphy, bringing it into the sphere of typography as would naturally have happened if metalworkers had not controlled the process. If classical Western traditions are respected, digital calligraphy has the potential to recapture the work of the past and restart its stalled evolution. There is of course no substitute for the charm of actual writing, with each letter made for its space; but the tradeoff is for the formal harmony of classical calligraphy as every curve resonates in tune with every other.
This three-weight font family marks Philip Bouwsma’s much-requested return from a three year hiatus. It also reminds us of his solid vision in regards to how calligraphy, typography and technology can interact to produce digital beauty and vesatility. Each of the three Lyra fonts contains almost three character sets in a single file. Aside from the usual wealth of alternates normally built into Bouwsma’s work, Lyra offers two unique features for the user who appreciates the availability of handy solutions to subtle design space issues: At least three (and as many as six) length variations on ascending and descending forms, and 65 snap-on swashes which can be attached to either end of the majuscules or minuscules. The series also offers 24 dividers and ornaments built into each weight, and a stand-alone font containing 90 stars/snowflakes/flowers, symmetric contstructs for building frames or separators, masking, watermarking, or just good old psychedelia.