Download Iconic National Park Fonts: They’re Now Digitized & Free to Use

Fonts put in the ser­vice of the pub­lic good, like road signs, and street names, try to be invis­i­ble most of the time. They’re here to do their job and noth­ing else. But cer­tain fonts accu­mu­late some­thing else, a sense of famil­iar­i­ty, a feel­ing of com­fort and affec­tion. That’s the think­ing behind this recre­ation of America’s Nation­al Park font, which a team of five design­ers has cre­at­ed after much lov­ing research.

Jere­my Shel­horn, the font studio’s founder, pin­points exact­ly that kind of com­fort:

Any­way I wasn’t fish­ing for some rea­son and was wan­der­ing around  fol­low­ing a deer trail turned into fisherman’s trail then back to anoth­er trail as some­time fish­er­man do.  I had trekked pret­ty far that day and wasn’t exact­ly lost, but I need­ed a lit­tle reas­sur­ance that I was head­ing the right direc­tion when I came across one of those ubiq­ui­tous signs you see in a nation­al park. You know the ones that have the text carved or “rout­ed” into it. Enter­ing Rocky Moun­tain Nation­al Park.

The font is “rout­ed” into wood­en signs and fol­lows famil­iar rules: round­ed ser­ifs, sim­ple angles. Shel­horn began to won­der:

…if it actu­al­ly was a type­face or “font” that any­one could down­load and use? Do park rangers have this as a type­face on their com­put­ers to set in their word docs, pdfs and pow­er point slides?…Turns out it isn’t a type­face at all but a sys­tem of paths, points and curves that a router fol­lows.

The Nation­al Park Type Face was cre­at­ed by Shel­horn, his part­ner Andrea Her­stows­ki, two stu­dents from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kansas– Chloe Hubler and Jen­ny O’Grady–and an actu­al NPS Ranger Miles Barg­er. It looks like the real thing and comes in three weights and one out­line font. Research was done by tak­ing pen­cil rub­bings of var­i­ous signs. And now you can down­load the fonts here.

Out­side this font, Jere­my Shell­horn and asso­ciates work on oth­er projects involv­ing our Nation­al Parks (always under threat from big indus­try and rapa­cious cap­i­tal­ists). You can check their var­i­ous work here.

Mel­bourne typog­ra­ph­er Stephen Ban­ham once described the cul­tur­al bag­gage that comes with Gil Sans:

When­ev­er I read text set in Gill Sans, I can’t help but hear the voice of an Eng­lish nar­ra­tor read­ing along with me.

With that in mind, what does the Nation­al Park font (down­load here) sound like to you? A friend­ly ranger? The sound of hik­ing boots on a trail? Bird­song? A bab­bling brook? The voice of nature itself? Let us know in the com­ments.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent

Font Based on Sig­mund Freud’s Hand­writ­ing Com­ing Cour­tesy of Suc­cess­ful Kick­starter Cam­paign

Braille Neue: A New Ver­sion of Braille That Can Be Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly Read by the Sight­ed and the Blind

The His­to­ry of Typog­ra­phy Told in Five Ani­mat­ed Min­utes

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

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