In service of gaining momentum, I'm introducing you to Waller as it stands at 10PM on June 1st 2018.
This typeface, named after a street in my neighborhood, is the result of approximately two months of work. It's my primary project for Type@Cooper West, and it will go through another two months of modifications before it's finished.
Initially inspired by bold Letraset headlines of the San Francisco underground, Waller was born from a desire to learn more about the city I’ve called home since 2012. I drew inspiration from a variety of posters and letterforms, mostly from the 60s-70s.
Hewing close to an era and style was useful in that it helped me set constraints, but also lead to tunnel vision: I found I was making replicas rather than interpretations. Over the break, I worked with less and less of my original reference material, choosing instead to broaden my influence beyond just local graphic history.
Sitting on my roof on memorial day, I was struck by the sheer amount of interesting things to look at on my block. I grew up where most structures maxed out at 20 years old - Midwest sprawl - so living in a building that survived the 1906 earthquake hasn't lost its novelty. I wondered, what if the guidance for the final details, the polish, was in plain sight, and had been all along? Was I really going to go whole hog on an "partially inspired by SF architecture" font?
Just for fun, I decided to see if I could generate patterns based on scaffolding details. The first sloppy pass, above, was nevertheless a.) enjoyable to make and b.) seemed versatile enough to scale from text ornamentation to specimen/promo materials. This was the foundation I needed for the final stretch of refinements.
My original influences (lofty as they were) are still alive and well in Waller's DNA, but I feel comfortably removed from them. There's plenty of opportunity for abstraction and purposeful omission in this project; I'm inhabiting part of a city almost unchanged (architecturally) from when the work I referenced was created. I'm interpreting the same homes, the same fauna, and a very different atmosphere, and I'll be documenting the process here.