-Hand-Lettered-

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.” Shahn used this lettering to represent the speech of the common person, and it blended perfectly with his pen work Shahn also lived to see his work–itself… continued

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. Includes upper and lowercase, numbers, punctuation, and international characters.  

ZITZ is my second cartoon font, based on the hand lettering in the King Features daily strip Zits by Jim Borgman and Jerry Scott. According to Robert C. Harvey’s thoughtful Children of the Yellow Kid: The Evolution of the American Comic Strip, “Zits” is a “teenage strip…ostensibly drawn by Borgman and written by Scott…. Borgman produces the final art.” The tall, tight lettering and expressive drawing style of Borgman’s political cartoons has long appealed to me; since 1997, “Zits” has represented a daily dose of his art. The scratchy outlines of the letters reflect both the artist’s pen and the… continued

YARD SALE was inspired directly by the hand-lettered signs of my friend Dan’s anonymous neighbor. You can almost smell the Magic Marker! Very closely spaced like the original samples. Includes caps, lowercase, punctuation, numbers, and international characters.

TOYNBEE IDEA was inspired by the mysterious Toynbee tiles phenomenon. Like the original tiles, these letters appears to have been cut out with a knife. You may have stepped over this strange crosswalk art and not realized the tiles have been a source of wonder for over 20 years. My photo of a weathered Philadelphia tile is at left; that’s the primary message of the tiles. For more information including a possible explanation, you should watch the 2011 film, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. My font suggests how the letters must have looked when first made. The… continued

SCREWBALL was inspired by the hand-lettered titles of the movie “What’s Up, Doc?,” Madeline Kahn’s first film. I’m offering this font for free, in Madeline’s memory, but ask that you send a contribution ($5 would be really nice) to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund or National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. THANK YOU! The opening and closing titles (by The Golds West, Inc.) feature whimsical hand lettering. I’ve worked to make the letters link and collide as much as possible, providing these alternates for a more random feel. What’s Up, Doc? (1972) was produced and directed by Peter Bogdanovich, and stars Barbra… continued

KING HAROLD was inspired by the embroidered lettering on the famous Bayeux Tapestry. The Tapestry was made c.1073-83 and records King Harold’s adventures and loss at the Battle of Hastings to William the Conqueror, with a special appearance by Halley’s Comet. It measures 230 feet long (69 meters) and is one of the great examples of Romanesque art. Although armed with photographs, including some very good close-ups, I still wanted more detail to get the right feel. So I embroidered all the letters and numbers I needed, in imitation of the style of the original, and made the font from… continued

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. Gamera was Daiei Studio’s answer to Toho Studio’s Godzilla. At the start of the series, the giant mutated turtle was a grave threat, but then became “friend to all children.” To me, all these such monster movies are just awful, but with the MST3K treatment they become good for a few laughs. Of course the atrocious dubbing and other attempts to sell the films in the West may… continued

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.  

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!” This font contains caps, numbers, punctuation, and international characters.

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