Anthony Burrill, Morag Myerscough and more unveil new artwork inspired by the fonts and signs of old Soho

Artists and illustrators create new poster work to aid London homeless charity The House of St Barnabus, incorporating typefaces inspired by the street signs of old Soho.

Soho-based The House of St Barnabas is a members' club and homeless charity rolled into one, with its latest campaign one as unique as itself. Lost and Foundry, developed by M&C Saatchi London and Fontsmith, sees the crumbling typefaces of Soho recovered to be sold online as a collection of fonts, helping to fund the enterprises's vital work with London’s homeless. 

A launch event for Lost and Foundry took place on Tuesday July 10th at The House of St Barnabas, which saw the sale of seven original artworks based on each font as created by UK-based artists and designers famed for their use of typography, with all funds also going to the charity.

The seven artists contributing were Morag Myerscough, Anthony Burrill, Steven Wilson, Dangerous Minds, Smile, Supermundane and ilovedust; in this gallery we look at the their work, along with the various designs and inspirations behind each font.

Image: Morag Myerscough, using the FS Berwick font.

To develop the fonts, M&C Saatchi London collected images of forgotten lettering seen around the alleys and streets of Soho past, with seven selected to be hand drawn and turned into a fully functioning font by Fontsmith, whose online shop has each font available for purchase. All proceeds from the store will be going to The House of St Barnabas.

The process behind Lost and Foundry involved adapting and extending the missing characters to make useful and crafted designs out of them, with it taking 3 months in total to digitise and design a workable series of fonts. 

Image: Supermundane, using the FS St James font.

Speaking with Digital Arts recently, Anthony Burrill explained how his poster "links in with everything else that I do - positive messages and positive propaganda. I think everything that I do has got a similar kind of feel. That sort of optimistic antidote to all the stuff that we see in the world at the moment.

"The typeface, FS Charity, is based on the type that's on the outside of the building that over the years has gradually been repaired really badly. Bits of it are missing and stuff; it was just a fantastic typeface to work with.

"We've done a screen print, an edition of one, so it'll be quite a rare thing. I love doing projects like that that have some kind of cultural relevance and it's for a good cause as well. And I like being involved in interesting projects, things that I believe in. It ticked all the boxes really."

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This poster by ilovedust makes use of the FS Portland typeface.

Steven Wilson's design makes use of the FS Marlborough typeface; scroll on to see how the typeface was created.

This poster by Dangerous Minds uses the FS Century font, the making of which you can find further on in our gallery.

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Smile's work uses the FS Cattle & Son font.

The St James font used by Supermundane is based on this sign that can still be found on Greek St in London, and which was probably inspired by early Underground signage. 

The St James font is of a lineal Continental style.

The rather high cross bar in the ‘A’ is also reflected in the raised middle strokes of the ‘M’. 

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The FS Berwick font used in Morag Myerscough's poster comes from a sign on Berwick Street, as traced for this first stage in the font's development.

The font, an Egyptian serif type, maintains a uniform character width, creating the irregular letter proportions found in the final alphabet (pictured in the next slide).

Fontsmith notes a 'surprising slippiness' to the Berwick, perhaps due to its ceramic origins.

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The FS Cattle & Son font used by Smile is based on a sign tucked away beneath an arch on Portland Mews.

Its location away from the extremities of the weather has probably helped keep it preserved for all these years.

The reduced size of the ampersand gives away Cattle & Son’s hand‐painted origins.

The oblique compacted ‘LTD’ found on the original sign is also included in the final set.

The FS Marlborough font used by Steven Wilson comes from a sign on Great Marlborough Street (naturally).

Fonstmith's mission with their font designs are to "rescue this rich visual history from the streets (of London) and present the typefaces into a contemporary context."

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Each purchase on Fontsmith comes with a one month membership to The House of St Barnabas, and 100% of the proceeds from sales go directly to the charity.

Image: The FS Marlborough alphabet.

This sign can be found on Dean Street, and is the inspiration for the FS Century font, as used by Dangerous Minds.

This somewhat elongated set of Roman capitals was originally rendered in paint circa 1940, but its roots can be traced back to the Trajan Column in Rome.

A complete specimen sheet of all the designs can be downloaded here from the Fontsmith store.

Image: The FS Century alphabet. 

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