Lately, we’ve noticed that alphabet-obsessed designers are seeing letters in some pretty strange places. They have created typefaces from things as random as office cubicles, images of human flesh, gay porn, and marine debris. Here are 10 things that have been turned into some of the strangest typefaces we’ve come across.
Designer Michael Allen takes the communicative powers of facial hair to the next level with Alphabeard Beardface. Over the course of almost two years, he shaved his beard into every letter of the alphabet, plus a period and a comma. “Many beards were sacrificed for this project,” he says. If that’s not devotion to the typographic cause, we don’t know what is.
To create a contemporary illuminated manuscript of Walt Whitman’s most homoerotic poetry, New York-based designer Erik Freer created one typeface from images of the male nude from classical antiquity, and another typeface from naked men in contemporary gay porn. “I wanted to experiment with visually illustrating the then-controversial eroticism of these poems,” Freer tells Co.Design, “something that would’ve been unacceptable in Whitman’s time.”
Because of course Beyonce gets her own alphabet. Learn the A-Bey-Cs with student illustrator and rabid Beyonce fan Vivian Loh’s drawings of the pop star’s body contorted into letterforms.
Comic Sans may get on your nerves, but this human flesh type will haunt your dreams. French design studio Kerozen took photographs of the seven members of their team and then Photoshopped their faces into terrifyingly flesh-like letters with bulging, hungry-looking eyeballs; visible pores and wrinkles; and pube-y tufts of hair.
The much-loathed open office might suck less if desks were shaped like letters of the alphabet. French designer Benoit Challand created this concept for Fold Yard, in which you can sit in an A-shaped desk and feel like you’re at the prow of a ship, or in the smooth curve of a D–far more comfortable than being boxed into a traditional cubicle.
Vladimir and Maxim Loginov, the Estonian creative duo behind type company Handmade Font, fried eggs in the shape of letters. It was harder than you might think: “The eggs flowed on the pan unpredictably, making the process impossible to control,” they told Co.Design.
The Runny Ink font was born in a moment of serendipity. While cleaning an ink brush in the sink, designer Ruslan Khasanov noticed that if he painted letterforms directly onto the porcelain and photographed them before they ran down the drain, the letters came out looking sublime. “The letter came to life like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly and then dying,” he said.
London-based illustrator Marcus Reed drew animals in the shapes of the first letters of their names, from a group of meerkats that zig-zag along the shape of an M to a Unau (a two-toed sloth) hanging from a tree in the shape of a U.
Usually, typographers aim to make reading as clear and easy as possible. But that’s not the case with Macula, in which every letter is a mind-boggling optical illusion. Dutch type designer Jacques Le Bailly was inspired by M.C. Escher and the Penrose triangle, coined by its maker Roger Penrose as “impossibility in its purest form.”
Ukrainian heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko teamed up with Monotype to fight global illiteracy the only way he knows how: with his fists. In boxing gloves slick with blue ink, he punched all 26 letters of the alphabet to create the “fist font” for the “A Heart for Children” Charity in their campaign to teach kids to read. See, kids? Reading makes you tough.
Designer Dion Star carefully selected pieces of marine debris from Wherrytown Beach in Cornwall, England, and presented them exactly as found–in stunningly letter-like shapes.