Letterhead Fonts is one of my favorite font foundries. I've discovered gems ranging from old-style reproduction sign lettering to energized, modern brush scripts perfect for food packaging design. Their fonts are unique in their generous inclusion of alternates and bonus swashes and embellishments. The quality is always excellent and they're so much fun to work with.
A couple days ago when I was looking for fonts for my latest packaging design project, I checked out Letterhead's website. When the website came up on my screen I was totally taken aback by the astonishingly lavish new look (see before and after above). I had to compliment Chuck Davis (the man behind Letterhead Fonts) on the new look and he was kind enough to share some great behind-the-scenes info.
Firstly, the credit for the design goes to supertalent, Dave Smith. Dave completely hand-illustrated and rendered the header and footer for the web pages.
Continue for behind-the-scenes sketches and hand work, and more of the story behind this extraordinary website design.
In Chuck Davis' words:
" I think some misunderstand what we are doing and what Letterhead Fonts is all about. Letterhead Fonts was created because I wanted to return to a certain period in lettering and design. Advertising from the late 1800's to the early 1900's always fascinated me.
The advertising from this period was hand-crafted and very elaborate. With fewer products, and a slower pace than what we are used to today, advertising could risk erring on the side of beauty over functionality. The designs were effective because people appreciated this kind of work.
Today however, we are bombarded with advertising from all sides... radio, TV, Internet, and magazines. When you go to the store, you have a choice of 20 different brands of cough syrup. As a result, design has been pared down to the subtle shape the letters make in the NyQuil logo. You gotta see it fast and first. This is the new standard for modern design.
But let's assume that your intended customer was something other than a manic business woman rushing into the local Wal-Mart for a bottle of cough syrup. What if the customer was an artist and you were not selling cough syrup, but fonts? And you weren't selling them on the shelf of a store, but they were effectively already in your store when they arrived. I believe (and the comments we have received confirm this) that our customers enjoy the new site design because it gives them something new to appreciate each time they return. Visitors to Letterhead Fonts come not just for the fonts, but for the experience. Many people never even buy fonts from us - they just like to be inspired by the designs.
See, the intended viewer determines if a design is successful or not. Wal-Mart is designed to help you find what you need as quickly as possible and get out. They have sacrificed design for the sake of efficiency. And there's nothing wrong with that. It works for Wal-Mart. But would it work for say, Disneyland? No. People come to Disneyland to wander around and enjoy the experience. And that is exactly what we want people to do when they come to Letterhead Fonts."