A City’s Character: Chattanooga, Tenn. Designs Its Own Typeface

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Courtesy of DJ Trischler/ Jeremy Doolley / Robbie de Villiers

Chatype, the font being designed by residents of Chattanooga, Tenn., for use citywide.

Chattanooga. It’s just plain fun to say — and now it may be a bit more fun to read, too. A group of designers in the Tennessee city want to give the place its own typeface, a font that can be freely used by business owners, residents and the city government (it would adorn street signs, bike lanes, letterhead and everything else imaginable that a city creates) to help proclaim the individual character of Chattanooga.

Font designers Jeremy Dooley and Robbie de Villiers and graphic designer DJ Trischler have worked to develop the font, getting support from the city and its residents. While the fun work of designing the font is finished, the group is still molding the final parts of the “Chatype” font.

On its website, the group says it wants to reflect the character of Chattanooga and get folks excited about the city while celebrating “ingenuity and innovation.” Having a specified font for a city is akin to creating a flag, they say. Just this one will get seen a lot more.

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Dooley tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the city has a certain vibe and a font would help capture that and express it. To get started, the team did its research, figuring out what really made the city tick, both historically and economically. They wanted to figure out what landmarks, businesses and traditions resonated with the local people, all while looking for common elements that could tie the font together.

The two font designers both came at the type differently, with de Villiers utilizing the angularity of the historic and well-known Walnut Street Bridge as his main guide and Dooley linking onto the more flowing ideas of Cherokee script. The two merged the contemporary with the traditional to settle on Chatype, which they say fits with the city’s overall feel and works as a thick, yet rounded, serif (details on the ends of the letters) style.

The Chatype backers have asked the public to get involved with the process, taking ideas from them along the way and asking them to support their mission financially. A typical typeface creation can cost around $10,000, so any money raised goes toward the costs associated with the font’s creation. They will allow free, exclusive use of the font to residents of Chattanooga upon completion.

As the crew completes the final steps of developing the four different weights, folks in Chattanooga have started to get on board with the idea, signing up to help and expressing their desire to be a city with its own font — its own character.

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