Drawing an alphabet – ‘f’
Initial idea: fraktur (Old German style)
Fraktur is a style of lettering based on writing with a wide-nibbed pen and a lot of vertical straight lines. It originated in Germany and did not travel far.
Obviously, I’ve had a nosey at some fraktur ‘f’s to get the general idea.
A bit of history
Fraktur lettering was created in 16th Germany. It was heavily used by the Nazis who liked its ‘Germanness’. Until 1941, that is, when it was banned for being ‘Jewish’. Don’t go looking to Nazis for logic. It’s been suggested that the real reason was that it could have affected communication in occupied territories.1 No one but Germans could read it.
Despite the short time that the Nazis championed it, fraktur is now very strongly associated with them (in the UK anyway). The only time we’ve probably seen fraktur in use is in books, films and TV programmes about the Nazis.2 And we’ve probably seen a few of those.
Typefaces stuck with their associations
There are other typefaces that have associations they can’t escape.
You might not have heard of uncial script but you will have seen it. Outside Ireland its most prominent use is on Irish pub signs. Use uncial on your jumble sale flyer and people will think it’s an Irish jumble sale (whatever that involves).
Comic Sans is used on the sign of every single children’s nursery sign. Papyrus is almost exclusively used by the ‘woo’ industry: aromatherapists, homeopaths and churches. You can’t use Amelia unless you want to show what people in 1970 thought year 2000 would look like.
These are all handy shortcuts. If you want your Irish pub to look like an Irish pub, use uncial script. But then that’s also very boring.
From a designers point of view, these typefaces are unusable. You can’t use Comic Sans for a children’s nursery sign because it’s so cliched. But you can’t use it for anything else because it will look like a children’s nursery sign.
This is part of a project to draw the letters of the alphabet in different styles.