Betatype

Display type inspired by Main Street

After putting the kids to bed at a well known southern California tourist destination, I drew up an alphabet inspired by a storefront in the park.

I have always been fond of this style. See also FF Oxide.

There is no question that there are a bunch of these out there. In some ways these types are so obvious because they adhere to such a simple system. The interesting thing to me about these are the places where they break the rules. In this case, the rules are enforced by the necessity to place the light-bulbs in the tracks, but if you look closely, the lightbulbs aren't evenly spaced. Affordances are made and rules are broken to make the characters more interesting.

Another interesting characteristic of these letters is that almost all of the letters have the exact same width; again, so that the letters could follow similar rules for the placement of the lights. I'm sure that the original creator of these letters was more of a fabricator than a designer. The only exceptions to the even character width are E,F,T,L (all the same width) and I,M,W. However, though the characters themselves are mostly the same width, the spacing varies according to the letter. So while it has much of the feeling a monowidth font, it has a much more even texture because of the unrestrained spacing and a few exceptions to the rule.

I'm not sure if I'll take this much further, but if I do, a major feature will be some OpenType goodness around the lights, with lots of alternate states. (I'm sure I would add a feature to blink the lights as you are typing. Gotta love stupid OpenType tricks :-)

nice