Work / Publication

Script fonts: a surprisingly punk typographic history

While they’ve become unfairly synonymous with mushy fridge-magnet quotes or “inspirational” memes, there’s a lot to be said for script fonts, and they have a rich typographic history to boot. A new book by Geum-Hee Hong and published by Laurence King celebrates their rich and surprisingly punk backstory, and forms a treat for graphic design and type fanatics. The publisher has kindly let us reprint an extract from the book below.

Handwriting: Spontaneous and personal

All scripts are ultimately based on handwriting. Printed handwriting
is essentially anachronistic, though, conversely, writers of official documents once aspired to ‘write like print’ – in other words, extreme regularity and evenness were considered ideal. Today it is possible to have your own handwriting digitized, complete with randomly scattered alternative letterforms to lend the script extra authenticity. As one might expect, there is also a whole range of fonts modelled on famous people’s handwriting, from George Washington to Picasso to pirates’ scrawls!

Handwriting represents authenticity and sincerity, exclusivity and spontaneity, individuality and personal expression. It has evoked these qualities for centuries, whether in your great-grandmother’s secret recipe or used to quote the founder of a company, for a brilliant, off-the-cuff first draft or to give a testimonial an individual touch. It can appear
young or old, feminine or masculine. And in graphic design, handwriting offers a welcome respite from the computerized perfection of graphics programs!

Decorative and Freestyle: From Punk to Arabic

The wealth of variety among script fonts is astonishing; designing fonts and digitising idiosyncratic letters has become an appealing discipline for many designers.

Inspired by 1950s car-bumper lettering or neon signs, these scripts are not exactly ‘handwriting’, but, as with script fonts, all the letters are joined up. Elements drawn from street art and graffiti are often central to their style: these typefaces take their cue from script fonts in the public sphere. Existing scripts are defaced, morphed or given a ‘used look’ with filters. Extra swashes and flourishes are added, or attributes of foreign scripts like Cyrillic, Arabic or Chinese are incorporated into the Latin alphabet. There are virtually no limits on the imagination, since neither readability nor overall harmony within the font are a factor. Such decorative typefaces often serve for single headlines or logos. Dozens of them are produced every day, and are circulated via font platforms for enthusiasts to use and enjoy.

Script Fonts by Geum-Hee Hong is published by Laurence King in April 2016.


Geum-Hee Hong: Script Fonts


Geum-Hee Hong: Script Fonts


Geum-Hee Hong: Script Fonts


Geum-Hee Hong: Script Fonts


Geum-Hee Hong: Script Fonts