Turning lettering into a font

Turning lettering into a font

The first fonts were based on lettering, or calligraphy.

Ligatures in the Montecatini font.

Ligatures in the Montecatini font.

Over the years there came to be a big distinction between type and lettering, but as the technology became more pliable, we started seeing a lot of fonts based on informal calligraphy. A quick search at Fontspring shows a great list.

Practitioners of built-up lettering, like Jim Parkinson, have drawn a number of great fonts, including some delightful chromatic typefaces like Sutro. 

House Industries has made a great success of digitizing the fluid scripts and more structured lettering of Ken Barber and his colleagues. So much so that they’ve have had to carefully define the permitted uses in their licenses.

Samples of Montecatini at work, from LouiseFili.com

Samples of Montecatini at work, from LouiseFili.com

Now one of the great lettering artists of our time has made a font. Louise Fili, known for her design for books, restaurants and food products, has released Montecatini on MyFonts.  Based on the elegant Stile Liberty—Italian Art Nouveau—of a hundred years ago, the name comes from lovely town west of Florence, famous for its spa.

Recently, Fili posted a book jacket of an Italio Calvino book, using a similar style. But now you can make your own, using ligatures to make use the font like lettering. And the Monotype license has no restrictions on using Montecatini for a logo for a company with sales greater than $5 million.

Fili’s 1980s jacket for Calvino’s Italian Folktales (Fiabe italiane).

Fili’s 1980s jacket for Calvino’s Italian Folktales (Fiabe italiane).

An informal type family—for everything?

An informal type family—for everything?

Letters that inspired <br>a typeface

Letters that inspired
a typeface