Creatives Conrad Haddaway and Sherwin Teo have developed a new typeface in collaboration with stroke survivor Kristina, based on her handwriting. Kristina suffered a stroke in 2013 and lost many cognitive abilities, including the ability to write, but has recently succeeded in re-teaching herself. The free typeface celebrates the determination behind this huge achievement and coincides with today’s World Stroke Day (29 October), with Haddaway and Teo calling on designers and publications to switch to the typeface today to show support to people that have suffered strokes and their families.
Haddaway and Teo, who are currently working at 72andSunny Singapore, first met Sweden-based Kristina through Haddaway’s partner and learnt of her determination to overcome the effects of her stroke, which had left her partially paralysed. Haddaway says, “It was really scary to hear something like that can just completely blindside you and flip your life upside down.” The idea for a typeface stemmed from a T-shirt Kristina had made with the slogan “Ge aldrig upp” (Never give up) handwritten across the chest. Haddaway adds, “It hit me super hard and from there, it just felt like the natural thing that had to be done.”
It took Kristina years of practice to regain her pre-stoke abilities, first starting with learning how to talk again, then moving on to reading and eventually writing. “For me giving up was never an option,” she says. “I was determined to make things go back to how they used to be. The doctors would tell me the more you practice, the more you’re going to be able to take back your abilities.”
To develop the typeface, Kristina wrote down every character in English and Swedish, scanned them and emailed them to Haddaway and Teo in Singapore. The pair then sorted through the letterforms, adjusting heights to make a coherent set. Haddaway says, “Sherwin and I studied Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins so we’ve had a bit of experience with type but the way of doing this was obviously less conventional. It’s not meant to be perfect.“
Kristina Bold, which can be downloaded from a specially made website, is intended to be a message of “hope and defiance” for others affected by strokes or people close to them. “When you lose the ability to do something that was once so simple, I’m sure it’s fucking easy to feel hopeless,” says Haddaway. “But, Kristina is proof that if you really fight for it, you can take it back.”
“I hope it helps people continue to fight to take back what they’ve lost,” says Kristina of the project which she describes as “challenging but fun”. “I want other victims to not be ashamed of their struggles and of course, to never give up.”