BENIGHTED is my stab at a blackletter font that has a loose, hand-lettered feel. Sort of an Old English Casual or Fraktur Frisky. I drew all the letters with a Sharpie marker (and I’m no calligrapher) and then autotraced them, arranging them along an uneven baseline.
The BENSFOLK fonts were inspired by the work of the artist Ben Shahn. He was a political activist, a painter, and a calligrapher, among many talents.
One of the lettering styles Shahn used was derived from the work of amateur sign painters. As trained artists often react to the work of so-called naive or folk artists, he found their crude beauty to be “cacophonous and utterly unacceptable. Being so it is irresistibly interesting.”
BENSGOTHIC was inspired by the work of the artist Ben Shahn. (See also Bensfolk.)
These two fonts (Regular and Ligatures) are designed to be used together to evoke Shahn’s hand-lettering. This style–which he applied to psalms, Christmas cards, posters, and many other items–suggests inscriptional capitals like those of Byzantine mosaics, the Bayeux tapestry, or medieval manuscripts.
BRICKLETTER was inspired by Jeff Levine’s interlocking all-brick font “Off the Wall.” I took the brick idea that and added letters based on Max Kaufmann’s classic font Balloon. Each letter fits with the next to create a brick wall emblazoned with bold graffiti. The brackets and underscore can be used to create square ends and bricked space. Parodied on Something Awful as “Bricks of Failure…What could make a font read better than putting a bunch of bricks behind it? Absolutely nothing! It’s perfect!”
BUBBLE GUM ROCK is based on a kind of graffiti lettering that kids do. Each letter is a big fat outline that underlaps the one to its left. My friend Kate Lee helped me remember it.
To Create The Underlapping Effect, Type Your Sentences Like This Because The Caps Are Designed As Initial Letters And The Lowercase To Follow.This is a set of two fonts that work together. The Outline font contains pseudo brush-drawn outlines; the Fill font is the solid part that goes inside. In a program that allows layering, set the same bit of text in each of the two fonts, and position the Fill behind the Outline, and assign another color or percentage.
COMFY has the bold but friendly look of cutout letters. Inspired by an example of “Pinselschrift” (brush lettering) by Wilhelm Dechert*. Has the feel of a handlettered version of a 20th-century geometric font like Paul Renner’s Futura* or Rudolf Koch’s Kabel.
CURATOR is a handwriting font that’s both precise and quirky, tighly spaced with a high x-height. It is a collaboration with my friend Corinna Ripps Schaming who has maintained this immaculate hand since I met her in college. She is Associate Director/Curator at the University Art Museum, Albany, NY. In Light, Regular and Bold.
DAD’S RECIPE is derived from my father’s hand printing. I used a recipe he had written out for me (for cole slaw specifically, simulated above) and rounded it out with other samples from my cookbook. Dad almost always used a blue ballpoint pen on lined tablet paper, so these shared recipes had a very consistent look.
DENNEY ONE and DENNEY TWO are based on the handlettering found on a number of greeting cards produced by the Barker Greeting Card Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1969-1974. I had guessed these were the work of Paul Coker, but I have learned this style was originated by Alan Denney.
Denney One is more whimsical. The letterforms were autotraced to preserve the bumpy feel of hand lettering, and then refined. Denney Two is more dynamic. Its letterforms were drawn by point and curve.
DIRECTORS SCRIPT was inspired by the sort of dramatic hand-drawn script used in 1940s film credits. As seen in classics like Crossfire, Laura, and Gilda, a very sloped cursive (about 45 degrees) is paired with a heavy roman. To approximate the style at left (from Crossfire), you could use Directors Script paired with my National Debt, Impact or similar. Add a drop shadow, and voilà.
DIRTY FINGER is a deceptively simple font, based on my own hand printing. It was begun by inking a Plexiglas plate, then drawing the letters backwards into the ink with my finger and a rag, the same way I draw my monoprints. Then I scanned, reversed, and flipped it to make what you see here.
DYNAMOTOR is my hand-drawn take-off of the classic font Dynamo. Dynamotor has the texture of diagonal crayon strokes which complements the bold, active letterforms. Looks great reversed for a chalk or scratchboard look.
FASHION SCRIPTS are fraternal twins. The letterforms of each were inspired by an example of 1940s department store lettering. FASHION BRUSH has a rough, art brush texture; FASHION MARKER has the smooth line of a Sharpie®.
FRANK THE ARCHITECT was inspired the handlettering in Frank Ching’s classic (now out of print) book Architectural Graphics (1975). I had read that Adobe’s lovely, ubiquitous Tekton was also based on Ching’s lettering, but the book is more beautiful than I’d expected. In these fonts I’ve tried to evoke more of the idiosyncrasies of Ching’s original, including the texture.
GAMERA was inspired by the hand-lettered titles of the English-language version of certain Gamera films. The font is emphatic and primitive with a rough organic edge, rather like its giant mutated namesake.
Playful and offbeat GENERATION B has a late 50s-early 60s vibe that goes from beatnik coffeehouse to rustic beach shack and beyond. It’s basically an all-caps font, with big and small versions of each letter plus some alternates. With a little tweaking, you can create the look of quirky hand-lettering.
GREG’S HAND was developed in collaboration with artist GREG SMITH. Greg did the original lettering in Illustrator and then I made the font, adding and adjusting as needed. Looks like it was written with a Sharpie.
HONEYMOON is a retro, backhand script with a hand-written feel. It was inspired by the classic logo of the Holiday Inn hotel chain. Uniform weight, almost completely linking. Italicized it becomes a vertical script.
HUMDINGER was inspired by the logo of Highlights, the venerable old children’s magazine read only by adults when desperately waiting in doctors’ offices. I love its feeling of kid-friendly Magic Marker lettering, complete with blips at the ends of each stroke that feel like serifs.