Co.Design

A Kickstarter Campaign To Rescue Rare Wooden Type From Oblivion

Designers Matt Griffin and Matt Braun are scouring the globe for ten rare wood-block typefaces, in hopes of digitally preserving them for anyone to use.

It's easy to forget how precious typefaces were before Microsoft Word commoditized them by the zillions into tiny drop-down menus. As Matt Griffin and Matt Braun of Bearded Studio explain, "letterforms were once drawn by hand, cut into wood, and printed onto paper on grand machines: a process known as letterpress printing." Wood-block display type offered especially wide latitude for creative expression, but now these "fanciful tuscans, outlines and inlines, and multi-color chromatic faces" lay mostly forgotten, rotting in basements or attics. But Griffin and Braun have started a Kickstarter campaign to rescue ten lucky wooden fonts from oblivion, by purchasing them and hand-digitizing them into modern formats.

Saving all wooden typefaces would be tantamount to tilting at windmills, so the Bearded duo is conducting a global search for a "top ten": "faces with characteristics the digital world is lacking, that are in fine condition, and that are thoroughly complete." They'll print the letterforms on a Vandercook proof press, not just once but in several versions at different levels of pressure, to capture the unpredictable physical patterning that wooden type imparts. They'll even include dinged-up letters as alternate characters, so that their digitized version can still offer typographers a simulacrum of battered retro style. But like true conservationists, they'll also create pristine, hand-corrected vector versions of each face, so that they can stand tall in your computer's font manager alongside ageless fonts like Helvetica and Gill Sans.

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Sounds like a great plan, and they've already raised about half of their $15,000 funding goal. The best part: They're releasing their first "rescue," a squat slab-serif display face they've nicknamed Fat Boy, free of charge to drum up interest in their cause. How could a type geek resist?

[Donate at Kickstarter.com]

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