Typeface Design – making new and classic ideas work


Typeface Design – making new and classic ideas work


Typeface Design – making ideas work

By London sign writer Nick Garrett

Typeface design is something top signwriters pull up every stroke of the day.  Each curve struck by custom made chisel edged signwriters brush, follows a memorised pattern or cutting in profile.  For example Helvetica has a completely different DNA to Franklin Gothic, Univers and Gill sans.  An experienced writer holds this programmed information and differentiation like a digital plotter.

Recently I was asked by a leading brand to write a shop fascia using a font with a loose Victorian poster hand... with a modern twist!  Whattha!!!

I knew exactly what was needed… but while I was writing this wibbly font (or peotica sans as I termed it), my subconscious was going nuts!  Protesting on my left hemisphere while my right forged this subtle but beautifully bad logo!

Below:  the wibbly font which drove me nuts writing!  Look at the rough ‘S’  …looks great ensemble!

But adding flair and eccentricity is what is required today as clients seek out the hottest brand ID… the rules are changing and rules are often out of the window.

Below:  recent brand logos, buttons and banners by Nick Garrett, NGS

making it real together

Classical Logo design is still a crucial skill for me as it focuses a host of useful typographic and creative skills: technical thinking and creativity combined.

Inspiration breeds success if held to client brief.

It is the difference between being a traditional sign-writer and a top notch sign pro.

Nick Garrett


Font work - fine tuning Gill, Nick Garrett

Above:  Gill sans with some optional extras …

The Magic of Vintage Block Lettering:  Sans Serifs

Gill Sans is a tremendous English font based entirely on the classical structure of Roman serif.  Ingenious sans serif borrowing from rich Latin origins.

We are a clever lot… those Romans….

Blockies to look out for:

  • Franklin Gothic Bold
  • Gills Sans
  • Univers
  • Swiss

Hope you like your hatchling NGS sign concept… think about it and get in touch



Related articles

The missing Finsbury Park Tavern sign panel!!

The Finsbury Park Tavern Story

Where are you now my fair sign???

Below I found this photo and info (in blue) today by Ewan-M – it shows the space where once my fab sign once stood!

Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park, N4 
Made by Ewan-M
Local pub, near the station. Former Name(s): The Finsbury Park TavernOwner: Taylor Walker (former).Links: Fancyapint Beer in the Evening

Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park, N4 
Made by Ewan-M  http://wiki.worldflicks.org/the_12_pins.html
The empty sign outside this pub on a busy junction by Finsbury Park station. The cannon suggests it was a former Taylor Walker pub, if I’m not mistaken. ()

Ha!! Empty because it was one of my first great pictorial signs I made for Mike Jacks, the chief designer at Taylor Walker HO Muswell Hill in 1981. It won Best Pub Sign of the year at the Design Centre, Haymarket London, and I guess the panels are now adorning Mikes dining room!!

It was an image of a park keeper sweeping leaves in Autumn, at the park gates on one side and similar elbow on broom pose in Spring on the other.

Breaking!!! June 2012

Was working on Sylvanian families sign t’other day and met Michelle McEvoy from Gallery 90 and she said she thought Linda the Landdlady would know where the sign is… on m’way!!

05 06 2012

Just spoke to Linda Hallinan the publican of the FPT and she told me the sign was blown down in a storm years ago… gutted!! If that be the truth…. methinks oi needs a poynt at the bar to take it ahl in… 😦