The art of handwritten script is lost on most of us keyboard-attached slobs. But over the past few years, a small group of designers have dug into the archives of famous thinkers and artists to bring their script into the digital world. You too can write like Einstein, even if you can’t think like him.
Here are just a few specimens based on the hands of authors, artists, and scientists — and if that doesn’t interest you, you can always make your own.
Odds are good you’ve seen Einstein’s handwriting before: his hand is immortalised, for example, in his notes where E=mc2 is written. But a closer look at his script reveals a lovely, looping handwriting that’s normally overlooked.
Harald Geisler, a designer who specialises in handwritten type, and Elizabeth Waterhouse, a dancer and theorist, are in the process of turning that script into a digital font. Their Kickstarter campaign, launched last week, has already doubled its goal amount; the duo plan to release the font to the public for $15 (£9.58) this autumn. Take a look at their amazing making-of rundown on Kickstarter. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.
German designer Pia Frauss created this typeface based on a careful analysis of Austen’s voluminous archives of correspondence. There’s just one aspect of Austen’s hand that she couldn’t recreate, she says:
Last of all, I had to invent the X. For the life of me, I couldn’t find one penned by Jane Austen. So, if you can procure me a sample of words like Xanadu, or Xerox, or Xerxes in her handwriting, I promise to update my font as speedily as possible.
You can download the free font and install it right here.
Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rodin
The type-foundry P22 actually specialises in handwritten typefaces, many of them pulled from the notes and sketchbooks of famous authors and artists; for example, they collaborated with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to create a Michelangelo typeface.
These typefaces aren’t quite the rigorous research projects that the others on this list are, but there are some cool little details. For example, Da Vinci’s typeface includes a backwards version, based on his famous “mirror writing” shorthand seen above, as well as extra Wingdings-style characters pulled from his sketchbooks. Gauguin’s includes profiles based on his sketches.
Remember Harald Geisler, the designer behind the Einstein typeface? This isn’t actually his first time translating a well-known hand into digital form. He did the same thing from Sigmund Freud's in 2013, raising money on Kickstarter that allowed him to visit Freud’s archives to study his correspondence. As he explains on his website:
When I first saw Freud’s century old letters, I was fascinated by the beauty of these historic manuscripts. It made me smile to imagine a person writing his or her shrink a letter set in Freud’s handwriting. I started to plan creating a font based on his manuscripts.
You can buy the finished product for €19 (£13.50) here.