The year was 1999.
I worked at one of the (still baby) internet’s top digital agencies, as a junior designer. There I helped build pixelated, low resolution sites for McDonald’s and Starbucks. I loved Tribe Called Quest, eBay bargains, and typography.
In ’99, digital typefaces as a craft were still being refined. Type foundries like Emigré and House Industries ruled the scene. I was a huge fan of a guy named Chank Diesel. He made quick dirty digital typefaces, often with a punk and hand-lettered aesthetic. Some of these fonts could be downloaded for free. In fact, for a time, Chank distributed one free typeface everyday! He even presented an online class in blog form that showed you could create a typeface in one hour.
I put it out online for free, with a small license file that said “This font has no license.”
Taking inspiration from the type of the 90s and the hand lettering I loved in vintage publications, I threw down a quick font using Chank’s techniques. My font, Good Girl, had a bouncy baseline, lots of individual quirky letters, and the only featured capitals and figures, and minimal punctuation. Like Chank, I put it out online for free, with a small license file that said “This font has no license.”
Since 1999, I’ve had an exciting and satisfying creative life outside of typography, mainly in user experience, exhibition design, and teaching. But Good Girl has had a life of her own. The font, even though it lacks many important glyphs, has persisted as a popular free download all this time. I am constantly “font sighting” — finding Good Girl in surprising and creative applications, on packaging, in motion graphics, even in homemade zines. Recently I’ve seen Good Girl on tuna cans and hamburger bun packaging at Trader Joe’s. Last week I spotted the font in episode titles on a new Netflix show for kids.
I am constantly “font sighting” — finding Good Girl in surprising and creative applications, on packaging, in motion graphics, even in homemade zines.
This year, I looked back at two decades of creative work, and realized that Good Girl is one my most visible and enduring creative efforts. I decided to invest time and creative juice in giving this happy little piece of type design an even longer and better life. I’ve created a full character set including the lowercase and accented characters. I reworked each character: fixing what I would charitably call “funky vectors”. And I’ve given special love to bearings and kerning. I also designed a companion light typeface that is still hand-drawn, quirky, and energetic. I am going to keep Good Girl as a free “Libre” typeface, because it’s always been happy that way. That means I will not earn money from this particular piece typographic work, but I will continue to have the pleasure of seeing Good Girl in surprising places. When the typeface is complete, Good Girl will be submitted to Google fonts, where hopefully it can have a new life in the cloud for another couple of decades.
Click here to download the refurbished and expanded two-weight typeface.
Or visit the typeface design in progress, and comment on Github. That’s a great place to drop positive 90s type design vibes if you want to see Good Girl on Google Fonts.
Catherine Bell is a UX/UI Designer specializing in art museums and fine artists. She designs tech to spark a human connection with artifacts of the past and present. Clients have included Barbara Kruger, David Byrne & Brian Eno, Sam Durant, Cassils, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and the Getty Museum. She currently teaches UX design at USC School of Cinematic Arts.