Is there a name for fonts like these?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

These fonts that have "graphics," for lack of a better term, inside the forms. There's probably thousands of "distressed" fonts by now, which I would think would fit in this catagory. And they get fanicer than that too, like this one that has electricity inside it:

or this one which has picures of skyscapers at night:

what to call these things?

riccard0's picture

I think they could be seen as an evolution of the figurative initials of yore.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

Not figurative.
The Electrical font clearly belongs to the sans category, at first hand.
At second hand: the additional feature in this case I would adress as *a graphic modification*. As is e.g. shadowing or outline display.
In the established categorization schemes there is, unfortunately, no means to accomodate such aspects of fonts.

Nick Shinn's picture


hrant's picture

Andreas has a point - you don't want to lose the
reference to the "outsides". Thinking about how
some old designs* had inline illustrations, what
about: "graphic-inline" or "inline-graphic"?

* Like my favorite, from Sem
Hartz. What was it called?


HVB's picture

Appropriate Panose categories include:

Family Kind: Latin Decorative
Treatment: Patterned Fill, Complex Fill, Shaped Fill

For fonts whose glyph's outside shapes are graphic, there's also the Topology category.

- Herb

kentlew's picture

> * Like my favorite, from Sem Hartz. What was it called?

Molé Foliate?

hrant's picture

Yes, that's it. I do have the charming little Hartz booklet with
it on the cover. I just don't know exactly where it is right now...


Nick Shinn's picture

Panose doesn’t appear to differentiate between figurative and non figurative fill.

Although many patterns are representational, no pattern can be truly figurative, because nature does not repeat itself with such regularity.

Now, with OpenType, the trick is to make the fill in repeated glyphs non-identical. Dunwich and CanadaType have produced such fonts, in the distressed mode, IIRC.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Pictoral Inline

brianskywalker's picture

I would have thought these are "graphic" or "illistrative". Correct me if I'm wrong!

Type Historian's picture

Molé Foliate

Researching the Fonderie Générale (Paris, 1835–1912) raised some perplexing questions about the history of this famous ornamented Didone.

It is attributed by 20th-century historians to Joseph Molé c1821. FG acquired the Molé TF in c1835, and yet no successors showed specimens of it:


donshottype's picture

IMHO the Molé Foliate is a decorated font where decorations are added to a letter with out savaging it's design.
Electrical and it's ilk are a different kettle of fish. I might use terms like distressed, corroded, weathered, cracked, shattered, fragmented, split, exploded, demolished or damaged to describe them. They seem to have some use for titling movies about post-apocalyptic existence, drug cartel atrocities, war as an unpleasant experience, or tea time with ISIS or the Taliban.
Unfortunately Panose classification does not differentiate between the added decorations that do not change the basic letterform, like Molé Foliate, and those that do. Panose as Procrustean bed...

riccard0's picture

war as an unpleasant experience

As opposed to? ;)

Té Rowan's picture

War, where you blow up half a country using a million .303 rounds without skinning even your knee.

donshottype's picture

Thought I would get a reaction to the irony in war as an unpleasant experience :)
I saw one of the most appropriate uses of one of these fonts whenI was browsing though a construction industry glossy while killing time in a waiting room, and noticed it as the headline for an article on the demolition industry.

Another good use was on an Economist Magazine cover

Apologies for going somewhat off topic. I'll refrain from more examples.

hrant's picture

You miss anything that was in your childhood; any way it was messed up makes you a messed-up adult in that way. No matter how problematic it is, I miss the pleasure of trying to stay alive, of relying on my wits instead of a government.


Martin Silvertant's picture

No matter how problematic it is, I miss the pleasure of trying to stay alive, of relying on my wits instead of a government.
The other day I was watching a program with interviews from the 90's with the last WW1 veterans about their experience with shell shock. One of them exclaimed – despite his experience with shell shock – WW1 was the best time of his life. "It was good old fun".

hrant's picture

Yes. The period in 2006 when Israel re-invaded Lebanon* I was miserable because I wasn't there (although I have to say I was happy my children weren't). In fact when it started we were on vacation in Florida. And it's not exclusively a youth thing; being challenged is living (although more for some people than others). But I imagine that suffering too much loss might flip that around.



JamesM's picture

I've known several veterans who said that fighting a war was both the worst and best time of their life. Best because of the intensity, camaraderie, the feeling they were doing something good (mostly WW II vets), etc.

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