Although Gilbert Baker, LGBT activist and creator of the Rainbow Flag, died earlier this month, his legacy lives on more ceremoniously than most: in the form of a flag that symbolizes gay pride, diversity, and inclusion that is still flown 40 years after its conception. Now, it also take the form of a typeface. Gilbert, a font created by advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather and the foundry Fontself, is a playful, curvaceous font formed, quite literally, from the stripes of the Rainbow Flag.
The two design teams worked in partnership with the New York-based film festival NewFest and NYC Pride, the organization behind the city’s Pride Festival, to come up with the font. The lively results—which borrow from the six flag colors—debuted last week, but will be applied all over the city during Pride Month in June, as NYC Pride plans to use it in its events materials, as well as in October during Newfest. A group of Gilbert Baker’s friends will also use the font for a memorial they are organizing in Baker’s honor in New York on June 14, which is also National Flag Day.
It’s easy to imagine Gilbert’s chunky shape and cheerful aesthetic looking nice on signage and other materials for the festivals—as well as Ogilvy & Mather’s lovely animation, which configures the stripes into something resembling a subway map before settling into letters. That sense of connectedness and solidarity is emphasized in the translucent colors, too, which create new colors as they overlap. Even though Baker’s original eight-color flag was reduced to six due to manufacturing limitations, the different stripes still represent an acceptance of all people. As Baker put it in an interview with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where his flag is part of the permanent collection, “The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”
It’s also what makes the font so perfect: The type translates the symbology of the flag into actual language, rendering it into a medium for expressing the same type of messaging through a different form of communication. In this case, the medium is the message. Download the font for free here.