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 signwriter’s brush, follows a memorised pattern or cutting-in profile.  For example looking closely at block lettering, 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 in order to replicate and use where suitable.

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… something off key… but while I was writing this wibbly font (or ‘peotica sans‘ as I termed it tongue in cheek), my subconscious was going nuts!  Protesting on my left hemisphere while my right forged this subtle but beautifully bad logo!  End result meant leaving ears on corners, wobbled straights, bitty curves and unfinished ends – it looked great! and definitely hand made.

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

A recent painted vintage mural brief from Ted Baker also required me to construct a slightly skewed retro Typeface I custom made for the job – the brief was to make it look eccentric and 1855 era! Below is the finished product…

Gaining design advantage

But adding unusual flair and eccentricity is exactly what is required today as clients seek out the hottest head-turning brand ID… the rules are changing and rules are often chucked out of the studio window.  Taking risks is back on the menu.

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

making it real together

Recent logo designs – Nick Garrett

Classics rule!

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 design pro.

Font work - fine tuning Gill, Nick Garrett

Above:  Gill sans with some optional extras … adjusting edges and creating something unique along these superb classical lines.

The enduring 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
  • Standard
  • Univers
  • Swiss

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



London sign writer Nick Garrett


+44 (0)7831173396  +393281518426

Case Histories    Testimonials    Blog   Gallery   Quality Charter


Traditional Signwriters London, Murals, Gilding,

Custom Typeface design, Brand design,

Logo Creation

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