Homelessfonts: Typefaces with a Human Face

If you have left home this week, odds are you will have seen a homeless person with a sign. You probably ignored it.

A Spanish NGO and an advertising agency have now decided to commercialize these signs – what sounds horrible is actually a beautiful project:

Homelessfonts.org has turned the handwriting of ten homeless people into computer typefaces. Anybody can buy these fonts and use them on websites, posters or anything else – just like Arial or TimesNewRoman.

Some of the fonts are really beautiful and would look good on store windows, products or logos, however I’m wondering whether the stigma of homelessness will stop companies from using the fonts. After all, most companies won’t want to be associated with homelessness.

The proceeds from the sale of the fonts will go towards funding the work of the NGO behind the project, but for me this is not about money. I think the project achieves two things:

  1. It restores confidence and dignity. Through the process of typesetting their handwriting, the project shows the homeless creators that they are capable of creating something of beauty and value.  Considering that few things are as personal and individual as our handwriting, I think this is huge.
  2. The project raises awareness for homelessness. It’s easy to think of “the homeless” as an anonymous group of people without seeing them as individuals. By showing them as creators and by providing the story of each author with each font, the project manages to change how we see (these) homeless people. What I don’t like about these mini-portraits is that they are a little too euphemistic and faultless. Apparently, none of the authors has a drug or alcohol problem or is at least partly responsible for being on the street – a little bit more frank honesty and less glossing over would have been good.

Here is a video that shows the creation of Homelessfonts:

(h/t Osocio)

Could you imagine using Homelessfonts? In what context or for what product would you use it? Tell me in the comments!