The Most Important Graph in the World

Thursday, February 16, 2012

If you could represent Salem in a font, what would it look like?

Any typographic artists out there? If you send me examples of an original font you create to represent Salem, I'll put it out there for people to see.

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Chattanooga Designers Take a Typographic Approach to Civic Pride
TODAY'S GOOD



20% serifs 20% kerning 60% hometown love

Around the world, only a few hundred people make a living as fulltime typeface designers. Two of them happen to live in Chattanooga, Tennessee, population 167,000, where they've embarked on an ambitious project to distill the city's artistic and entrepreneurial spirit into a font called Chatype. The goal is to help the city and its businesses forge a distinct and cohesive identity through custom typeface, sending a visual message to the world that Chattanooga—a rapidly growing city in the midst of a creative renaissance—is “more than just your average Southern town.”

Chatype came about when D.J. Trischler, a brand consultant, discovered he'd been sitting next to typeface designer Jeremy Dooley at their local coffee shop. The two became fixated on a question: What if Chattanooga had its own typeface? The idea may sound strange from an American perspective, but it's actually the norm throughout Europe, where even small cities employ custom typeface to distinguish themselves.

Joined by recent Chattanooga transplant and typeface designer Robbie de Villiers and Trischler's business partner Jonathan Mansfield, the collaborators met with a local historian to figure out what should inform the design of a Chattanooga-inspired font. They pulled from a diverse set of local visual references including the Cherokee writing system, Coca-Cola's first bottling plant, and, of course, that city's "choo choo," immortalized by the 1940s big band song.

Chatype made its debut at a event hosted by the local creative community and quickly garnered public support. They've raised nearly $7,000 through Kickstarter from more than 100 backers. De Villiers says they now have "hard, firm commitments" from Chattanooga's public sector to work the typeface into local projects (they have yet to reveal which ones). While the designers still have more work to do to finalize the typeface, if all goes according to plan Chattanoogans will soon begin to see Chatype popping up on signage, business cars, emails, and websites published by the city government. “We want to let businesses use the typeface too," says Trischler. "It'd be awesome for startups in town that can’t afford a typeface, to give them a typeface to really set them apart.”

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