OAKTAG is a set of 6 unique stencil fonts, inspired by the one-character logo of England’s Channel Four. Originally called “Stencil Four”. For the regular font, I applied the same constructed style to all the characters, using a bold, condensed version of the classic font Clarendon as a reference. Channel Four has updated their logo to a 3-D style (left); now I’ve added 4 fonts to the set (and improved the appearance of the original two fonts). Mix, match and layer them!
Plumber’s Gothic is my digital interpretation of the font formerly used by 3M to brand its products. According to their excellent corporate history, the “boxy, serifed…decidedly industrial” logo and font were designed by Gerald Stahl & Associates in 1960 and used throughout their product line until the late 1970s. “Unfortunately ‘plumber’s gothic’ no longer accurately reflected the image of the more sophisticated, higher-tech company that 3M had become.” (Thanks, John, for getting me started on this!)
POPSTARS was inspired by the hand lettering on the cover of the classic Beatles album, Magical Mystery Tour. The B from Beatles is about actual size at left; weren’t vinyl album covers great? This pair of fonts can be used separately or layered as in the animation on this page.
RADIO was inspired by the old logo of NPR, National Public Radio. Obviously, the line pattern suggests broadcasting. The letters are square and of a uniform width, great for short headings, drop caps, and the like.
RED CIRCLE was inspired by the font formerly used on the Eight O’Clock brand coffees. These brands (which were sold at A&P stores) included Bokar and Red Circle. The smell of fresh ground coffee and this lettering are forever linked in my memory.
Playful, beachy ROAD JESTER was inspired by the logo of Trader Joe’s, the offbeat grocery chain. My challenge was to carry the somewhat naive, hand-lettered style throughout the alphabet, numbers and punctuation. Then after going to Bilbao and seeing all the wonderful Basque-style typography, I added an alternate A and I for extra flavor.
My version of ROOSEVELT began with a request by Rob Case for the font once used on Aeolian pianos and organs. I drew the letters from analog examples, regularizing and filling out the set. Subsequently another correspondent, Richard Vance, told me the history of the design (at right) and showed me more examples of the original font in action, prompting the revised version which now includes small caps and a more conventional T. (The curvy one is now located at | and \.)
SAGEBRUSH is a decorative font with a Western flavor, its distinctive dots and curves and suggesting silver conchos, sheriffs’ badges, cowhides and spurs. In reality, it was inspired by the logo of the legendary NYC punk club CBGB OMFUG. When you learn that CBGB stood for “country, bluegrass, blues,” it’s easier to see what they were going for with this design, so far from punk typography.
SHOEMAKER is designed to look like top-stitched letters, great for a fun, friendly, hand-crafted look. The basic letterforms were inspired by the classic Windsor fonts, favored by Woody Allen (most all his films’ title-cards) and Timberland (logotype). I’ve reduced it to a carefully “stitched” outline.
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.