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Thumbnail for Bill Blackbeard's Final Splash Panel

Bright eyed and balletic, Dino dos Santo’s Ventura (a TDC2008 winner) has been sculpted by a couple of cultures and centuries. When the Portugal-based, self-taught type designer Dos Santo undertook what would be his 12th typeface, he “felt the need to open people’s eyes to … amazing calligraphers, and Portuguese calligraphy in general.” Ventura is a revival script based on the early 19th century work of Portuguese calligrapher Joaquim José Ventura da Silva (1777-1849), type designer and author of the definitive calligraphy manual Methodical rules for learning to write letters in the English, Portuguese, Aldine, Roman, Italian Gothic and German Gothic styles, a massive tome published in 1802 and widely distributed to standardize the written form. Da Silva developed Ventura from these studies, ushering Portuguese typography into its modern era with a new face that was both elegant and readable. The British army had just defended Portugal from Napoleonic Invasion, and traces of British influence were found in many socio-cultural arenas, calligraphy included: The “roundhand” script, designed in 1820, wore the influence of British typographers Charles Snell and George Shelley. While Ventura’s angle and grid structure observe the rigor and discipline of a new body politic and worn battlefield, its spirited forms belie its genesis in Europe’s early Romantic period, with swashes and ligatures that swoon and twist like an elegiac love affair in an opium den.