Maurizio Osti, 2003
FF Folk is a font based on Ben Shahn’s lettering used in his paintings and lithographs. The Ben Shahn Folk Alphabet was originally created as lettering in 1940 and reconstructed and redesigned by Maurizio Osti and Jane Patterson in 1995 with the consent and approval of Mrs. Bernarda Shahn and the Estate of Ben Shahn under license from VAGA (New York). Shahn originally drew his alphabet taking inspiration from vernacular shapes – a “lettering for the illiterate” – and he called it “folk alphabet”. He felt that letters and words should have the same importance as images and drawings, and he combined them in his work.
Maurizio Osti has designed a family of fonts. He recreated two character shapes for each letter (one for the uppercase keymap position and one for the lowercase keymap position) that best capture the vibrant variety present in the original art. It is therefore possible to compose text by combining uppercase and lowercase interchangeably (UPPERCASE ONLY, lowercase only, and UpPeR aNd LoWeRcAsE) to achieve a more personally artistic effect. Folk Regular is inspired by ‘Bring back our Sons from far’ (gouache and gold leaf; 40 x 26 inches); Folk Rough by the graphic work ‘Immortal Words’ 1958 (Silk screen in black, 15 x 20 inches). Folk Light and Folk Rough Light have been drawn to complete the family.
Ben Shahn was born in Kovno, Lithuania in 1898, and moved to the United States in 1906. He died in 1969. At an early age he developed a passion for lettering, and while a lithographer, he developed a great understanding of this artistic discipline.
FF Folk at FontShop