The amount of new fonts created on a daily basis is staggering. This is awesome — don’t get us wrong — but if we read one more roundup with a title like “50 New Sans Serifs that Every Designer Needs to Know About,” we think we’re going to short-circuit. Seeing typefaces at this quantity, abstracted from any examples of real world use, is noisy. Before long you can’t tell your serifs from your ascenders and you’ve lost sight of the things that really matter, like a typeface’s branding potential or its legibility across different sizes and media.
So, we took a different approach that we think will prove refreshing: looking beyond the screen and finding fonts in the real world — in the logos, ads and signage that we come across in everyday life in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. These 18 fonts have proven themselves to be effective in real world practice and we’re willing to bet they’ll make good additions to your design toolboxes as well!
We found all of the fonts in this roundup in actual use around 99designs’ office and the Bay Area. The black dots mark their exact locations, just to give a general sense of their distribution.
Oh, and here’s a little challenge for you type sleuths. In some of these cases (we’ll let you know which), we weren’t able to find the exact font used, so we cited the closest match we could find. If you can find the right ones, though, please share!
For the wall text accompanying its exhibition Girl with a Pearl Earring, San Francisco’s De Young Museum uses a distinctive serif and a very legible sans serif. We couldn’t find an exact match for the serif, but it’s possible the designers modified Berling Roman. The sans serif looks like Gibson Light.
Mobile service provider Verizon uses a sleek, distinctive font in this obnoxious ad campaign catering to SF’s Financial District and SoMa neighborhoods. We’re not sure we’ve found the exact font (that Q is mighty distinctive), but it may be a modification of Camingo Dos Pro.
The signage for the One Jackson Place building and courtyard uses an Art Nouveau-inspired typeface called Arnold Boecklin No.2 D.
Inside the courtyard, the Jackson Place Cafe uses a complementary typeface in its logo. It may be a completely original typeface, as we cannot find it but it is certainly in the same family as Roberta Regular.
An advertising poster for the exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance at the De Young. It uses two cool and unusual sans serifs, Gothic Unique Bold for the title, Geogrotesque Light for the subtitle.