Schwartzco / Local Gothic

Local Gothic

While I was in college I took several classes at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and I had to walk by a Rally’s Hamburger stand to get there. Their sign was amazing — it looked like they had bought their movable letters on three or four separate occasions and didn’t care that they didn’t match. It gave me an idea for a very distressed typeface that was made up of completely undistressed characters. The uneven texture would only be apparent if you looked at multiple characters at a time.

The sliding letters in the signage at Webster Hall Theater is a pretty classic example

I loosely based the individual characters on the four most popular sans serifs in American vernacular design: Helvetica Bold, Futura Bold, Franklin Gothic Condensed and Alternate Gothic No. 2. Ultimately it’s more a special effect than a typeface, but I think it’s a pretty cool special effect.

I had abandoned Local Gothic as a relic of the 90s — an interesting idea that didn’t really need to be finished — until 2005, when I was convinced it might deserve to be released after all. First, it ended up a central part of the graphic identity for TypeCon New York, lending it a certain haphazard charm. While all of the TypeCon stuff was in the works, Tal Leming at Type Supply contacted me because he had been playing around with a simple OpenType randomizer, and the font he had built as proof of concept reminded him of Local Gothic. We applied Tal’s code to Local Gothic, and the change was subtle, but reinforced the illusion that the pattern of styles was accidental. Sometimes matching characters appear next to each other. Some alternates end up being used more often than others. The texture is willfully uneven.

Local Gothic supports the full CE+EU3 set of languages, and includes a set of arrows, nut fractions from half to sixteenths, a handful of dingbats, and an extra set of alternates to make your text look especially clumsy.

Version History

V1.0—Initial release version; 2005.07

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