Type Tuesday: OC Highway VAR

Posted inType Tuesday

Created and designed by Otherwhere Collective, OC Highway VAR is a free typeface inspired by the typefaces used to design and fabricate signage. The goal of this font was to develop with the American charm known on these signs, yet with a modern flair and updated approach. While a classic, OC Highway VAR has unique intricacies, especially when playing around with the variables, specifically the condensed version, as it becomes instantly playful.  

Ideal for designs ranging from eclectic to classic, OC Highway VAR is simplistic yet full of character and charm. If you’re over Helvetica but want a similarly prototypical font that can easily match the aesthetic you’re in search of, this is the typeface that can do just that. 

A variable redux of the OG dafont that was based on the Standard Alphabets for Highway Signs—AKA Highway Gothic. Free for personal and commercial use.

The Standard Alphabets for Highway Signs (AKA Highway Gothic) were developed a long time before computers and plotters would be used to design and fabricate signage. Characters would be enlarged to the desired letter height with enlarging processes such as shadowgraph, or by manual transfer, and printed with die stamp equipment and silk screen printing. Letters were spaced using spacing tables not the infinitely adjustable kerning we are used to now. 

While the official Alphabets have been improved over decades—and various editions have seen them go from from inches, to millimeters, to PostScript and TrueType—it was the analog process that gave them the character that resonates in an overly precise digital world. There are many adaptations of the font available today, but one version in particular maintained this imperfect aesthetic with its inimitable spirit that we know and recognize to be Highway Gothic. 

Originally made “for the fun of making fonts”, Ash Pikachu’s dafont has been in demand for over a decade. Sharing his same passion, OC Highway VAR builds on his design, takes notes from obsessive research about the original Alphabet Series (see Reference section), and evolves it to something new with variable font technology. The challenge while modernizing was to retain the font’s je ne sais quoi; to not succumb to logic, convention or over perfect, and maintain the undeniably American charm. 

Project Credits
Otherwhere Collective