-Hand-Lettered-

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. *Reproduced in Iron Fists: Branding the 20th-Century Totalitarian State by Steven Heller (thanks, John, for bringing this to my attention.) This font, of course, is much more gemütlich (comfortable, homey, informal, cozy, approachable, good-natured) than that title suggests. Includes upper and lower case, numbers, punctuation, and international characters.

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… continued

BENSGOTHIC was inspired by the work of the artist Ben Shahn. (See also Bensfolk) This style–which Shahn applied to psalms, Christmas cards, posters, and many other item—suggests inscriptional capitals like those of Byzantine mosaics, the Bayeux tapestry, or medieval manuscripts. He made great use of fanciful ligatures, which are included in the font for a totally hand-lettered feel. The new OpenType version of Bensgothic allows you to access the ligatures easily. In applications that support OpenType features, enable “discretionary ligatures.” Type your text in ALL CAPS to automatically use the ligatures as available. Type in lowercase (or MiXeD cAsE) to… continued

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, obsessive neighbor. You can almost smell the Magic Marker! Very closely spaced like the original samples. Version 1.2 features and expanded character set.

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 looks like whimsical hand-lettering. It’s unpredictable with lots of close-fitting pairs. It was inspired by the hand-lettered titles of the movie What’s Up, Doc? (1972), designed by The Golds West Inc. Version 1.5 includes an expanded character set and many alternate characters that make use of Opentype features to create a more hand-lettered look, as well as improved spacing and kerning. What’s Up, Doc? is a personal favorite, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, starring Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal, and, in her first film, the late Madeline Kahn, to whose memory this font is dedicated.  

KING HAROLD looks like hand-embroidered lettering and was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. To get it just right, I drew, embroidered, and scanned all the characters. Version 1.5 makes use of Opentype features for alternate letterforms and ligatures, an expanded character set and improved spacing and kerning. The Bayeux 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.  

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