Hand drawn typography and its resurgence in the retail world is something that I’m absolutely crazy for.

It’s become a very popular medium of late and I am always drawn (if you’ll excuse the pun), to these beautiful works of art that take time and not inconsiderable skill to create.

I just love the shapes the lettering makes and how they all weave together, the textures and flourishes and even those little mistakes and imperfections. That level of skill sometimes blows my mind – but what I like most about them is their sheer authenticity.

Retailers have cottoned on to this, too, with more and more seeing the benefits of using hand drawn typography. But don’t just take my word for it, take a walk down any High Street and you’re sure to spot some of these lovingly hand-crafted signs.

Retailers (or perhaps their marketing agencies) understand that this gives them a reconnection with customers on a very organic level. Often it’s a way of speaking directly to them and giving the personal touch in a welcoming way.


Bring your A game

Now I’m not saying for a minute that these examples of hand drawn typography are in the same league as the new ornate signage of hipster hangouts, but the humble ‘A board’ often takes advertising to another level.

Usually the preserve of your local watering hole or newsagent, these little ad boards have now been adopted by a whole host of establishments who use them to communicate on a base level or quirky way. Again the skill comes in the form of some clever, hand drawn, messaging that resonates with a potential customer.


A sign of the times

It’s amazing to think the current trend for hand drawn typography all started out with the guys that produced the first show cards. And in case you’re too young to know what one of those actually is  – a show card is an advertising sign that has been traditionally hand-lettered by a signwriter, and then placed either in a shop window or close to stuff on sale or on promotion.  Not that very long ago, up until the 1980’s in fact, the signwriter was a mainstay. Then new technology paved the way and printing was more readily available and the traditional art of signwriting was replaced with modern day sign making.

Signwriting is dead, long live the signwriter

So, here we are in 2015, and we’ve found our way back to sort of where we started: reconnecting to customers and providing a personal touch for retailers into the bargain.

Starbucks and other coffee shops lead the way in using this hand drawn typography aesthetic. And now it seems lots of retailers are not only using hand drawn lettering in their interior and exterior spaces, but also in their topline advertising and packaging.

Chris Yoons interiors signage for Daniel Richards in Atlanta, GA is a stunning example, as is the hand drawn typography work of McDonalds. Another excellent example of this lovely art form making its way into mainstream advertising is in Jackson Alves great work for Sol beer.

While, a little closer to home, there are loads of establishment in Manchester’s very own Northern Quarter that adorn murals and walls with hand drawn typography.

As an admirer of this fabulous art form, I’m keen to try this out for one or more of our lovely retail About Us. Watch this (hand drawn typographic) space!

Jeff Dillon
Senior Art Director