Reviving ancient Basque letterforms

Visual Identity for ZETAK, a basque electronic music project by Pello Reparaz. The project explores new boundaries by reinterpreting Euskal Herria’s traditional music to generate new sounds.

Coming from ZETAK’s nature we designed Arbizu, a custom typeface conceived under the same idea. Based on documentation research, ancient characters from the Basque alphabet have been rescued and juxtaposed with a sans serif typeface of today, resulting in a contemporary view of the traditional Basque imaginary.

The basque characters, used commonly in the territory and rooted to its popular culture, are mainly inspired by old funerary inscriptions, engravings, gravestones, and lintels from the Basque Country. These inscriptions used to be made by local artisans, who added certain stylistic gestures to each character.

In order to recover a great number of characters –108 between numbers and letters, and provide rhythm to the typeface– three alternative characters were added to each letter.

The random appearance of basque characters is activated in the OpenType code by “contextual alternatives”: Three character versions appear randomly thanks to more than 1,500 lines of code that contemplate various combinations.

Done as




Typeface production

Jordi Embodas

Web Code

Iago Barreiro

Motion Design

Rafa Grullón