Various beard styles can subtly communicate lots of things: that you might be a wizard, that you have a lot of soul, or that you are trying to pretend you have a chin, to name but a few.
With Alphabeard Beardface, New York-based designer Michael Allen takes the communicative powers of facial hair to the next level. Over the course of nearly two years, he shaved his beard into the shape of every letter of the alphabet, plus a period and a comma. “Many beards have been sacrificed for this project,” he writes on his website.
The project began back in 2011. “The idea came from a joking conversation among design colleagues until I started thinking of it as a real design problem,” Allen tells Co.Design. “I began sketching the ways I could make letterforms with the limitations of beard growth, including the bald patches, the gap around the mouth and amateur grooming skills.” He soon went ahead and used an electric razor to sculpt his beard into the shape of the letter A. Several weeks later, he shaved the letters O, C, and L from a single beard, in stages. Every time he shaved a new letter, he’d have to wait three weeks to a month for his beard-canvas to grow back before starting the next one. “I continued casually until the end of 2013 when I finally crafted the last letter, the elusive K,” he says.
Though he claims to have no formal training in grooming, Allen is quickly becoming a master of facial hair topiary. For his own amusement, he plans to develop different typeface weights: bold, medium, and light. Now the question becomes: Will beards-as-monograms catch on among the hipster set?