Hand-Painted Typography

pcBeing a painter, I naturally wanpc2t to explore hand-painted typography. This paint-your-own-pottery studio in Catonsville, named The Pottery Cove, chose a hand-painted typography display for its storefront.

While ruminating on these images, I am drawn to the beauty of its imperfection. This typeface can never be reproduced in its original form, and, in this age of computers, that is such a strange thought.

I would be happy to design hand-painted typefaces. However, I am also drawn to the strictness and uniformity of designing a reproducible typeface. A conflict of feelings.


Business/Banking Typography

PNCThis bank statement is an example of a field that uses both serif and sans serif typefaces.

Businesses and banks, I have noticed, tend to utilize simple, graphic, modern typefaces for their logos. Sans serif type allows for quick reading, and the shapes are easier to commit to memory. Longer amounts of information, however, are presented in a classic serif form. Look at any bills, any government forms, etc.; the majority of the type is linked to timeless Old Style text.

This is an interesting point that I have to keep in mind while designing a typeface. For what purpose will my typography be used?


Old Style Typography: An Example in Contemporary Design

Atwater'sHere it is! Venturing into my small town of Catonsville leads me to another display of Old Style text, only this time in a contemporary design. The typeface style displayed outside of Atwater’s instantly creates a timeless, nostalgic feel.

This typography is also interesting because it is distressed. Distressing is a new trend; however, it is utilized to make something appear old or used. Interesting juxtaposition…A contemporary design tool is used to age an actual historical typeface.

So now I have evidence that serif typefaces are used in contemporary designs. However, no research is complete without thorough investigation, and I cannot simply begin developing a serif typeface without learning about many aspects and fields of contemporary typography. The typefaces that illustrate a variety of contexts must be collected.


Historical Typography

poohBeginning my primary research. My first question after my secondary research remains: How does one go about developing a typeface in this age?

Shown by the facts presented in “Secondary Source Research,” my main interests appear to center around serif typefaces, specifically Baskerville. However, how prevalent are these typefaces in the modern world?

I do not have to travel far to find an example of this type of historical typography. Within my own living room, I find an old book (published in the mid-1900s), which displays a timeless Old Style typeface. The type appears to have originated in the 15th, 16th, and 17th century. However, this book is over fifty years old…Not exactly the most contemporary piece of evidence. Further research needed.

Milne, A. A. The World of Pooh. U.S.A.: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1957. Print.

Secondary Source Research

A few highlights from my secondary source research (both the facts and my commentary):

  • Serifs

Serifs originated in ancient Roman times, when words were carved in stone. These small lines carved on the ends of strokes kept the stone from cracking…So interesting!

Serif typefaces have lost popularity in the modern world, but the more I learn about historical typefaces, the more I appreciate them. The idea that the materials used for presenting ancient typography (carved stone) dictated the development of serifs adds an incredibly interesting layer of complexity to this timeless typographic element. Serif typefaces have a foundation not just in two-dimensional art and design, but also in sculpture.

Thank you to Professor Bridget Sullivan of Towson University for her lecture, “The History of Typography.” This was just one of the interesting facts presented.

  • Baskerville

Baskerville. A radical but legendary serif typeface…What could be better than that? Baskerville was founded in the mid-1700s. Using strong contrast between thick and thin strokes “was denounced by many of his contemporaries as amateur and extremist” (Thinking with Type, Ellen Lupton).

There is an interesting lesson to learn from Baskerville; the innovative and deviant usage of classic typeface elements can lead to truly timeless designs.

Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type. Second, Revised and Expanded ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. Print.

  • Humanist vs. Old Style

I have been having some trouble differentiating between humanist and Old Style typography. Here are a couple of links that shed light on that:

Humanist Typography

Old Style Typography

It’s all in the e’s.

A Preface to the First Wave of Research

Wow! The past few weeks have been full of learning about and experimenting with typography.  As a preface for the following posts, here is a brief outline of my research from the past few weeks.

  • History (Secondary Sources)

I have never been a history buff, but the history of art and design has always been of interest to me, both for the sake of learning as well turning that newfound knowledge into inspirations for new projects. I will post about the highlights of my historical research: some facts about the founding of historical typefaces that I find especially interesting.

  • Encounters with Typography (Primary Research)

As I have immersed myself in the history and technical aspects of typography, I have begun to notice typefaces more and more. Type is absolutely everywhere. Now, as I drive down the road, I long to take pictures with my eyes so that I may remember and compare all of the different typefaces displayed on the fronts of buildings. As I watch a documentary, I recognize the typeface being used, and it is all I can think about for the entirety of the show. The following posts will display the pictures of my primary research: encounters with type that I have found throughout my apartment and town (Catonsville), the type that flavors my life and the lives of those in my community. This is another extremely important basis for the founding of a new typeface.

  • Inspiration

Continue reading to discover what this secondary and primary research has inspired in the business aspect of my life.


Welcome to the Founding ‘Faces Blog!  I am excited to share my research of typography with you on my journey to create a new typeface.

Just to get started, I have made a small collection of interesting websites that contain easy-to-read information on typography and resources for creating typefaces and fonts.  These include:

  • — Though this website contains an extensive font library, I am mostly interested in the Learning About Fonts & Typography Section.  Under this section, “Fontology” contains brief and concise information on the history of the Latin alphabet and typography.
  • — This is a fun website to browse if you have an interest in expanding your knowledge about specific fonts. There is a Typowiki section that contains information on everything from typefaces to printing methods.  Since it is user-edited, it may not be the best for research projects, but it is a good starting point for learning the basics.
  • — This blog post that I found, entitled “How to design your own typeface,” does just that; it gives great tips to think about when starting on this endeavor and outlines how to turn ideas into action.
  • — I found this website through the blog, another great blog that outlines typeface-creation in the post “So you want to create a font.”  The author of this article gives a few options of font editing software, of which FontLab Studio is stated to be the industry standard.  It is, of course, very expensive, but it is worth it to look at the site and compare the product to others in the field (Font Forge and Font Creator).

I look forward to sharing my research and conversing with you about this awesome field of design!