How A Chimney Influenced A Typeface

Learn the five most important infographic design principles with fun, bite-sized lessons.

Working from several hundred reference photographs of industrial chimney lettering, ornamenting/patterning, and roughly two dozen archival engineering drawings, the Stack fonts were developed to be true to the spirit of the original masonry lettering while also being authentically original. The design of the Stack fonts ]by James Hultquist-Todd with research and input by Craig Welsh and Jenna Flickinger began during a trip to Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (HWT). Prior to the demolition of the original HWT factory complex and implosion of the 230′ tall, 1920s-era chimney, designer Craig Welsh of Go Welch in Lancaster, Pa, had access to the entire 12-acre campus. Here Welch takes a brick and mortar approach to design. And visit JTD to experience and order the font.

Stack fonts Stack fonts

You note that your inspiration for this face was the chimney from the old site of the Hamilton Type Foundry. Say more?

In early 2013, I was granted permission to explore all of the buildings at the old site of Hamilton Manufacturing Co., including access to the rooftops. On the roof of one of the buildings I had a fairly close view of the iconic chimney and its white lettering. The vertical ‘HAMILTON MFG CO’ was confident type. It was perhaps the most public typographic expression of the company for which it was built yet it was unlike anything being produced in the buildings below. As with the wood type from the site the chimney lettering felt too important to allow to fade into history. The idea for the ‘Stack’ fonts had begun.

Stack fonts

How do you see this face being used?

It wants to be used quickly – headlines, signage, alerts, single letters, etc. There are a few pattern glyphs in the fonts that have interesting possibilities on their own or paired with the letterforms.

There is building block quality that locks you into certain shapes and forms. Do you see room for variation?

It’s certainly not as freely expressive as vector-based letterforms but there will definitely be opportunities for a range of variation to take shape. The variations most likely to initially be realized will be in the use of the chromatic attributes of the fonts. Layering the ‘Fill’ and ‘Mortar’ fonts will provide designers with an easy means of personalizing the visual expressions. Additionally, I have researched hundreds of historical references for masonry lettering and patterning and have also reviewed early digital fonts that were heavily pixelated and bitmap-driven in their forms (Emigre had published a number of such fonts in its early days). I expect to add several more fonts to the Stack family and am planning to release a fuller complement of patterns and ornaments.

Stack fonts Stack fonts Stack fonts

Is there a mood and emotion that you hope will be evoked by this face? What, in other words, is it speaking to in the user and the receiver?

Ironically, I hope it evokes a sense of strength and permanence – even though the chimneys that included such letter forms have mostly been razed.

Stack fonts