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Lost & Foundry: Reviving Ghost Typography for a Good Cause

An Interview with Type Designers Stuart de Rozario and Pedro Arilla

Thomas Jockin
Oct 29, 2018 · 7 min read
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Kara in discussion with Michelle about her lettering project at GoogleNYC

Our global type superfamily converges monthly to help one another improve our letterforms over drinks.

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Left: Pedro Arilla, Right: Stuart de Rozario

What is Ghost Typography?

SR+PA: It’s an interesting concept: it refers to fading signage from previous times and ages. The beauty of it is that they are everywhere and they tell stories. We think it’s crucial to preserve these ghost signs because they are visual history and show how life once was.

The Lost & Foundry Project

SR+PA: Actually, it wasn’t only about restoring ghost typography. Lost & Foundry is more than that and the key aspect was to raise awareness and money for a charity: The House of St Barnabas. It is a social enterprise that aims to break the cycle of homelessness through its Employment Academy, a programme that works with people who have been affected by homelessness and supports them into lasting work. It does this by operating as a member’s club, with all profits from the club going to the Employment Academy.

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Stuart and Pedro’s approach in converting a historical source into a functional font

The Process of Conversion from a Historical Source

SR+PA: It started by taking photos of a particular sign that was chosen. We would research similar types of the period or even other signs in the area that were obviously created by the same hand or company. Then, we started to sketch the missing characters trying to capture the spirit of what existed. It’s an interesting exercise for two reasons; first of all because we had to get into the heads of other designers and try to understand his/her background, style, motivations and influences. Secondly, we live in a digital world and our eyes are conditioned to see shapes differently — the original craftsman/woman would have a different understanding of letters in those days. It was crucial for us designers to preserve that spirit and not to intoxicate the design with our 21st century hands.

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FS Cattle and its historical source
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Notice the upside down “S”

Where to learn more about Stuart and Pedro

SR+PA: You can grab us at Fontsmith where we have new typefaces available regularly and some exciting fonts for brands. Also, we edit a magazine on type and graphic design called Typenotes, and the Fontsmith blog. Stuart’s latest release (together with Andy Lethbridge) is FS Koopman, a robust hardworking grotesque. Pedro’s first typeface with Fontsmith will be available soon and we are sure you will love it.


Once you’ve gone bold, it never gets old

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