Type foundry turns old signs into amazing fonts

Detroit typography

Different fonts are based on different neighbourhoods

Inspiration lurks in the most everyday settings, so long as you keep an eye out for it. For designer and letterer Jessica Krcmarik, the founder of type foundry Gratiot and Riopelle, it was the walk to work that sparked the idea of creating fonts based on Detroit's hand painted signs and advertisements.

From old ads for soda, to new signs for car washes, Jessica photographed them all and sorted them by neighbourhood. Noticing similarities in the fonts she compiled, Jessica was able to create distinctive typefaces for different areas of the city.

Detroit typography

Jessica photographed the signs on her way to work

Detroit typography

She documented everything from soda ads to car washes

Detroit typography

We really love this rounded font

Detroit typography

Different downtown areas had unique styles

Detroit typography

Hand drawn designs were tidied up on her laptop

After sketching out rough forms and scanning them into her laptop, Jessica prints them out and makes final tweaks. With an aim to make ten fonts based on the downtown area, Jessica will release the typography as pay-what-you-can downloads to make the designs accessible to everybody.

By creating usable fonts based on a specific area and making them available to small businesses, Jessica hopes the visual culture of the different neighbourhoods will live on.

You can support the Gratiot and Riopelle type foundry on Kickstarter to help them preserve the style of analogue signs.

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Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.