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A Font, Helping A City Make A Comeback!

29 Feb, 2012 McKell Naelge


Around the world there are only a handful of people who make a living as full-time typeface designers, and two of them just happen to live in Chattanooga, Tennessee (population 167,000). These two have set out on a journey to distill the city’s artistic and entrepreneurial spirit into a font called Chatype. The goal is to use the custom typeface to send a message to the world that Chattanooga is “more than just your average Southern town”.

This idea might sound strange from an American perspective, but it is actually the norm throughout Europe. The brains behind it are D.J. Trishcler, a brand consultant, and typeface designer Jeremy Dooley, who met at a local coffee shop. They believe they are the first ever to create a custom typeface at the grassroots level, rather than by the demand of the local government.

Joined by another Chattanooga typeface designer, Robbie de Villars, came together to create a mashup of their work. They took inspiration from a number of local visuals including the Cherokee writing system, Coca-Colas first botteling plant, and even that city’s “choo choo,” glorified by the 40s big band song. Dooley calls the finished style a “geometric slab serif”.

Chattanooga was known in the 1960s as one of the country’s filthiest sities, but they have managed to clean up their act and their image in recent years. But the city’s “brand: is out of date, and doesn’t seem to live up to the creative energy of the city. “If you think of a brand as a story, Chattanooga has an amazing story.” said Trischler. “If you look at the visual brand it doesn’t back up that story”. Hopefully this sleek new font can help tell their story a little better.

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