An artistic experience with fonts


Technically a font is art. Oddly, although our letters are clearly structured with step-by-step instructions on how to reproduce them, every single person’s handwriting is different. How does one explain this?

It’s because writing is an art. Not just in terms of context: each curve and line of every letter is a little tiny piece of personal self-expression. So take a moment today and learn something about yourself. Yes, this is an activity for ADULTS, and yes, it is important for adults to take part in self expression and exploration! Do it!

First, choose a letter. Any letter. Mine was “A.” I was feeling a bit chronological. Next, find some paper and something fun to write with. I suggest crayons or markers, personally, because there will be NO ERASING and also it is good to get in touch with your inner child. I used MS Paint because it was handy and we have a long, colorful history together.

Ok! With marker and paper in hand, close your eyes and make some dots! Be random! Be spontaneous! DO NOT try to control the outcome. LET GO. Just make a bunch of dots! A handful, a dozen maybe.

Now, take a deep breath. Look at your dots. See if you can find an outline for your letter. This is not so much about trying to replicate how letters are “supposed” to look, this is about pushing the boundaries of what your letter can look like, so get funky.

A LETTERFrom the picture above (the green dashes are my random dots and the orange line is the letter “A” which I crafted from them,) I refined my letter. Using the same shape and lines, I made it a little more recognizable as an “A” (the result is to your left.) You may choose to do this–or not! Take a moment to look at your picture. Break it down into lines–forget the traditional letter it represents. Write or type a list of words and ideas off the top of your head. Don’t edit. Don’t hold back. Every idea you have about this picture–write it down.

Here is my list:

softer curve
more parallel lines
perched precariously, yet balanced
less traditional

I also asked myself what familiar imagery my original letter design reminds me of (doorway) and how it differs from its traditional counterpart (less traditional.)

I definitely feel like this describes me, and the idea of being completely lopsided yet also managing to stay balanced defines me in so many ways. The bright color and fun shape pick me up and remind me to have fun and be expressive. Can you get all this from one letter?

Letters are fantastically magical things. Think about hieroglyphics. They are considered so mysterious and even powerful, partially because they are a link to an ancient world, but also because one little symbol can convey ideas, and ideas are the invisible engines behind everything we do. However, people these days rarely consider that the letters of our alphabet are just as mysterious and powerful.

No, there are no pictures of herons or snakes. More specifically, they are symbols. Symbols are even better than pictures, really, because their ambiguous lines and curves can represent many images and ideas. They have the power to change your mood, focus your train of thought, or convey a powerful message. Messages can inspire people to change their lives.

I think every person should try to create their own font. Whether it’s extremely structured and intricate, or abstract and out-there. There are even fonts which incorporate pictures. Explore. Play around. See what you can find.



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