Is cursive type coming back?

Phil Garnham, executive creative director at Monotype, discusses the beauty of cursive type, the connotations these fonts have, and how technology is being used to make them more contemporary

With the current trend in typography being a focus on digital and therefore a more simplified, minimalist aesthetic, cursive typefaces have fallen out of favour in recent years. “It’s not in trend right now, but it’s because we’re overwhelmed by similar, monolithic looking typefaces, it’s almost a world gone too far digital in a way for me,” says Phil Garnham, ECD at Monotype.

While sans serifs have been more favoured, Garnham believes there are hints of cursive making a return, citing projects such as Wolff Olins’ own rebrand last year as an example, with the playful ‘W’ alluding to a bit of curvy cursive. “In Monotype’s trends report this year, loopy logos are still a thing, adding quirks while using geometry. There’s also lots of really naïve, child-like handwritten fonts that are knowingly wobbly, which is interesting,” Garnham notes.

Whether or not there’ll be a full blown cursive renaissance Garnham is unsure, but he highlights how cursive type is the “underpinning structure of typography itself” in that many designers learn calligraphy and study the flow of the pen, where the emphasis is in terms of the weight, and how bold aspects of different letter shapes should be. “Even the more geometric fonts we see today, there are still links to those sorts of forms. It’s fundamental to everything we do as type designers.”

Top: Hiraw, M — N Associates. Above: Barbie Retrospekt, specially designed Polaroid 600, 2023