Number Five is pure Americana, inspired by the look and feeling of 1940s and 1950s America. It is suitable for titling, display, logo, signage, and editorial work. Its two versions, Smooth and Rough, are constructed similarly, yet imbued with distinct feelings and uses.
The letters are subtly retro and just barely distressed, and are evocative of Betty Crocker cookbooks used by women in high heels and crisp aprons, signs painted on old barns along the highway, and slow summer days with Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio (and his number 5 jersey) at bat. This was a time when modern machine-made was adored, yet handmade was the norm, and the functional hand-drawn still had a beauty all its own, whether or not we could still discern it.
The lettering is bold and dark, beautiful but not especially feminine or even sophisticated, a casual down-to-earth script. Like many of my fonts, the letters grew organically, possibly triggered by watching an old movie or remembering the cheers when I was a kickass Little League pitcher. I used pencil to construct them, then scanned and finessed them on the computer. Constructed faces are carefully crafted and demanding, they don’t flow naturally from the pen or brush. Yet, designing the letters was hard work that came easily compared to others I’ve made; I drew the outlines on a single sheet of paper, which is unusual for me; perhaps the letters had a strong American identity running through them from the start and I simply followed them to completion. I intuited the direction I was headed: unpretentious, friendly, oddly familiar—as “retro” should be.
The two versions are kissing cousins, lending themselves to different purposes and kindling a different feeling, as similar as they seem at first glance. Smooth is the slick version; I think of a pale, crisp, clean lager. Rough is the nut brown ale, or, taking it back in time, the neighborbood’s hardware store sign, at the center of town.
Number 5 has 433 alternates, including a set of unconnected letters (the default set is all a connected script), and ten ornaments.