Font Aid V: Made For Japan

Grant Hutchinson's picture

The Society of Typographic Aficionados is organizing Font Aid V: Made For Japan, a project uniting the typographic and design communities with a goal of raising funds to expedite relief efforts after the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We hope to be able to complete something akin to the Font Aid IV: Coming Together typeface, which was created to benefit the victims of the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Update! The project theme and submission guidelines have been posted.

Update! The typeface now has a name … “Made For Japan”

Thanks in advance for your help.

— Grant

jonathanhughes's picture

Here's my first attempt. Maybe I'm taking the challenge too literally, but I liked this from the wikipedia definition:

" they cannot be regarded as 'useless' in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called "useful."

So I give you the exclamenthesis, perfect for when you need to put something in parentheses and you REALLY mean it.

John Hudson's picture

Jonathan, I think you need a 180 degree rotated version too, for opening parenthesis à la Spanish opening exclamation.

jonathanhughes's picture

I was thinking that, but I didn't want hog another glyph. Plus, I thought maybe it would be funnier if the phrase just had the exclamenthesis at the ned. We'll see!

jonathanhughes's picture

I don't want to make more work for anyone, but I'm wondering if it might be cool/funny/useful to have a little description about each glyph in the book. The Haiti project was self explanatory, since everything was ampersands; but here, with there being a lot more freedom, it would be nice to know what the designer was thinking with each glyph.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

@jonathan
Thanks for the great suggestion. We were thinking about the book component of this project. You’re absolutely right … documenting some of the thought process behind each submission would be both interesting and more personal. I have updated the submission guidelines with a request for an optional description for each glyph.

I will posting these guidelines and other information on the SOTA website as soon as I have access to the server again. The airport wifi in Denver is blocking FTP transfers right now.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

… I'm wondering if it might be cool/funny/useful to have a little description about each glyph in the book. …; but here, with there being a lot more freedom, it would be nice to know what the designer was thinking with each glyph.

Useful? Cool?? Funny???

In this very hour they are sitting down with nothing left.
And you are fuzzing about a silly bastard glyph, claiming wit for it.
Do you think this will raise funds for the human aid needed?

It’s not my project, but I would consider a revision of the briefing.

John Hudson's picture

I wonder if an unsealed pool of water for storing spent nuclear fuel rods is an example of chindōgu?

John Hudson's picture

...ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However ... anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever.

brockfrench's picture

re: Andreas & cool/funny/useful

Humor is important, and deserves as much celebration in bad times by those who can, in an effort to honor those who can not. Celebrate life if you can... Help in some way if you can... Fun & Funny obviously dose not mean to degrade or insult.

jonathanhughes's picture

"In this very hour they are sitting down with nothing left.
And you are fuzzing about a silly bastard glyph, claiming wit for it.
Do you think this will raise funds for the human aid needed?"

I'm positive that everyone who will be involved in this project is well aware of the horrible conditions in Japan. I would also guess that for many of the people involved, their willingness to help will not end with this project. In an effort to raise funds to help the people of Japan, I don't think it's in poor taste to celebrate something uniquely Japanese in a way that's in the spirit of that thing. So yes, I think we should be concerned with making it useful, cool, and funny if being useful, cool, and funny helps raise more money. I think it will.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

I have been receiving some comments outside of Typophile about the whole idea of “usefulness” vs “chindōgu”.

Ultimately, we are attempting to create is something thoughtful, beautiful, and intriguing. If usefulness (or humour) springs out of the images that are created for Font Aid V, all the better. Remember, we are an extremely talented and empathetic community that can (and will) make wonderful things to help others.

Let’s just focus on that.

Thanks for listening.

dezcom's picture

I think it is more important to move on with the project than to beat on the concept brief as a committee. We have all been the committee rout, "Lay on McDuff!"

Ray Larabie's picture

I made previous and next buttons. It's Showa-era squareness with a little temple roof curve. Luckily, before submitting it my wife walked by and noticed I'd drawn the wrong kanji (uni5148) for previous.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Humor is important … Celebrate life if you can

Some out here know my sense of humor. I always smile if there is something funny.

I was only wondering if the kind of ‘ideas’ will really be helpful.
Perhaps I’m too sceptic this time.

brockfrench's picture

~ It is my natural tendency to get carried away...

The internet tells me that the Noh mask- "Ko-beshimi is used for sorrowful demons." so this seems appropriate, though I've never visited Japan, and I really know nothing of kabuki... I'm not sure if these abstractions of the mask would be seen as offensive in this context, but it is a connotative association for me.

brockfrench's picture

~ Thoughts?

Grant Hutchinson's picture

I love both of these iterations, Brock.

Nice balance of abstraction and subtlety.

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture

Hi folks, here is one of my contributions based on the word "ran" which means "chaos" in japanese (see also the wonderful film "ran" by akira kurosawa) :

1985's picture

IMHO Ray (Typodermic) is onto the right approach here - ability to use the font after the fact will help sales - sales help the people.

brockfrench's picture

@1895, I agree with you, in as much as I wish I hadn't put my nonsense process up here... but, I think personal work can also be of use, and as a document of an attitude or a reaction to this event at this time, from this community, I think the collection itself can be pretty special, 5 years, 10 years down the road...

riccard0's picture

I would just saying that, after submitting your glyph(s), you already can donate through http://sogojapan.org/ and receive a special cut of Angel Script.

1985's picture

@brockfrench - sorry I didn't mean any disrespect.

riccard0's picture

First draft for my submission: Nō mask effect smileys


http://www.kasrl.org/noh_mask.html

Any and all suggestions/critiques welcome :-)

brockfrench's picture

@1985 - I know you didn't. I didn't take it as such.

Ray Larabie's picture

I can't wait to see how this font turns out. I love the idea of everyone doing their own thing for this project. Buyers might prefer it or they might not: we don't know. Next time around, we'll know. I have a feeling this approach is better because it offers something for everyone. Some customers will buy this font and find themselves doing a project where Japanese themed imagery is needed. Some will have a need for manga word balloons. Some will want a lone @ sign. Having a wider variety of glyphs to choose from should make the font more useful. If we would have stuck to variations of one symbol, a customer might use some of them but it's unlikely that they'd use several. Give the customer a variety of glyphs and the chances of those glyphs being used goes up because situations which require their use will be more frequent. The more frequently glyphs are used, the more exposure they get. People who see designs using those glyphs might ask the designer where they got that arrow, noh mask etc. That can end up spreading the idea of Font Aid even further.

Grant Hutchinson's picture

“I can't wait to see how this font turns out.”

Me either.

In additional to the sneak peeks in this thread, there are some gorgeous things being submitted … whether they’re immediately useful or not is a completely subjective matter.

I’m convinced that throwing the doors wide open was the right thing to do.

dezcom's picture

My FontAid ampersand Haiti poster was featured in the USA Today photo Gallery in today's issue.

http://usat.ly/fyQ9O9 via @USATODAY

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture

“I’m convinced that throwing the doors wide open was the right thing to do.”

Yep, exactly ; here is another submission:

joro's picture

Formed from the first and the last letter of the word "япония",Japan in bulgarian, read "yaponiya".

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture

Here is my third contribution:

John Hudson's picture

My Japanese anti-nuclear flag design was picked up by the CND for their protest against nuclear power in London yesterday.

dezcom's picture

Way togo, John!!!

riccard0's picture

There’s a glyph I’m toying with from time to time:


It’s an a-t ligature (as in @), which has an hiragana (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiragana) feel.
But, having maxed out the allocated slots with the above Nō masks, I will not submit it.
So, if anyone need some inspiration, please feel free to use and improve it :-)

John Lyttle's picture

I know question marks were done in Font Aid II, but I’m putting my focus on that character for this project. The incidents in Japan raise so many questions about that nation’s future, and about what the rest of us will do regarding preparedness, nuclear power, etc. The glyph that I submit to SOTA will be all black, as the specs suggest; I’m just showing a red circle to make the connection to Japan (overly) obvious.

dezcom's picture

Mine is inspired by the famous Hokusai block print of the wave. The curves need more work than the one day I've given them but here is the basic idea. One in BW and the other in color.

dezcom's picture

After another days work, I think this is a better solution. Still using the Hokusai wave idea but with an anguished Kabuki or perhaps Noh mask profile subtly emerging from the top part of the wave

5star's picture

Nice stuff being done! I'm diggin' the developmental work too.

Nice use of the wave pattern Dez, lots of possibilities.

eliason's picture


The first glyph combines two Japanese symbols for good fortune. Maneki Neko is a common ceramic sculpture of a cat with an upright paw, often holding a coin, inviting luck. Frogs are also associated with good fortune, especially in travel, perhaps because the word for "frog," kaeru, also means "to return." This frog, assuming the position of the beckoning cat, is a wish for good fortune to return to Japan.

The second glyph combines two vital traditions of Japanese art: the calligraphy of Zen Buddhist painting and the playfulness of contemporary manga comics. The form of the circle, called ensō, is a common, polyvalent symbol appearing in calligraphy. Usually painted in one stroke, the painted ensō is a particular and imperfect expression of the absolute and perfect. This happy ensō has a face inspired by manga in the supercute "chibi" style.

Thanks to my daughter for editing suggestions and to SoTA for organizing the project.

eliason's picture


New improved ensō face after further input from my daughter!

Grant Hutchinson's picture

@john I don’t there’s any reason why you shouldn’t create a question mark, ampersand, fleuron, or what have you for this project. If the imagery fits, so be it.

Thanks again to everyone for showing your creative process and submitting your work.

We’ve received over 150 glyphs from 80 contributors.

Keep ’em coming.

dezcom's picture

I guess it is deadline time. Here are my last efforts:

Frank ADEBIAYE's picture

Here is my threefold contribution, as a sum up:

I'm amazed by all contributions around here. The Font Aid V will be a great edition. How infortunate such catastrophe have to happen in order for us to work as a team...

Jos Buivenga's picture

I designed a flower from four (identical) heart shapes. It stands for all the love and growth, care and help I wish for Japan and its people. Of course the submission had to be in black and white. I added the gradient later.

phrostbyte64's picture

I tried to wrap my head around the concept for this project. The ampersands were much easier. I'm not certain that these are appropriate. The mask is based on a mask I made for my brother during his semipro wrestling days. They billed him as the shadow something or ninja something, I can't remember. I just remember looking at a lot of Japanese masks and helmet designs. Good, bad or indifferent, this will be the submission for the Fontry. I hope it helps.

tourdeforce's picture

1) Magic ball - Things that Japanese made and do are magical. Magical philosophy of living.
2) Japan gate - Famous torii stylized with sun and mountain.
3) Clock - Same stylization of sun and mountain, in another context - respect for time in everyday life.

:)

dezcom's picture

@Grant.

Was an email confirmation of receipt of entries sent out? I just want verification that they arrived?

riccard0's picture

Ditto!

cuttlefish's picture


Here are the glyphs I submitted. The first is based on the map glyph for hot springs that I modified to include heart shapes and it wounded up looking like a turnip. It works better in a color treatment. The other is a bean.

Syndicate content Syndicate content