It’s no secret that many people use their love of all things
Parents use photos of
Of course, Disney movie characters are used as familiar social-media avatars, too.
But what if you want to use the medium of written communication to express yourself in a uniquely Disney fashion?
You would, of course, want a font that would be recognized immediately as Disney-esque. We’re not talking about New Times Roman or Arial ital or the almost endless host of other fonts that make up today’s choices in the drop-down menus of
Fortunately Florida designer Justin Callaghan has created just the kinds of fonts Disney fans might want to use to express their creations with a flourish that is as instantly recognizable as Disney's branding is on its theme park signs and big-screen film projects. It's something he's been doing for more than a decade.
Callaghan recently engaged in an email Q & A, and here is an edited transcript of the things discussed:
Which is your favorite Disney-inspired font collection you've created and why?
It's not a collection, but my "Space Age" font was the most fun to design. [NOTE: For a list of all of Callaghan's font creations and where to find them online, see the end of this post.]
After redrawing the Mission:SPACE logo for the "Prototype Community" symbol font, I couldn't resist the urge to try creating an entire alphabet in the style of those five letters. I ended up with a full character set plus many alternative designs.
In order to produce the effect of certain letters connecting to one another, I added over 70 ligature glyphs to the font, along with an OpenType feature that replaces the unconnected letter pairs with their corresponding ligature (an 'E' followed by a 'P' changes into a single 'EP' glyph connected by a continuous top stroke). In compatible programs, the letters seem to automatically link together as you type them.
“Space Age” also has been my most successful font commercially, and I often see it in logos and even on television.
Are there other Disney-inspired fonts you'd like to create in the future or that you are working on now?
I have a long list of “blue sky” ideas for font projects, but the most interesting font I'm currently working on is a blackletter design inspired by the
I came across your “Waltograph” font in a recent Macworld magazine feature. Did you have to research Walt Disney's writing style for your letter creations or did you have other resources on which to base the style?
Inspiration came from a variety of sources. With help from other Disney fans, I was able to gather a good collection of reference materials, including lettering from various Disney logos, artwork, company newsletters, and, yes, even Walt Disney's own handwriting. Walt's writing style varied depending on the decade and context; his everyday handwriting was fairly unremarkable, and his regular signature only hinted at the company logo. But his personal autographs were very often written and signed in the familiar Disney-style block lettering (hence the name “Waltograph”). Disney artist/Imagineer John Hench was also skilled in the “Disney” hand and regularly used it in his work.
However, the modern-day “Walt Disney” logo is a bolder, more refined design, and most of the authentic hand-lettered references were too casual by comparison. Examples of existing “Disney script” fonts, mostly from within the company, also lacked consistency in style.
I ran into the same problem with my early attempts at "Walt Disney Script" ("Waltograph's" predecessor), modeling the letter designs from different sources that just didn't work well together in a typeface. There's an old saying in typography (often quoted by Matthew Carter), "Type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters." So aside from a handful of key glyphs, the majority of "Walt Disney Script" (later renamed "Waltograph") was redrawn from scratch, with the goal of better overall consistency, and the reference materials providing only loose inspiration.
What's your background in typography, and when and how did you get started?
Back around 1999 to 2000, when a significant number of people were still posting messages on Usenet, one of the newsgroups that I subscribed to was rec.arts.disney.parks, a group for Disney theme park enthusiasts. It seemed like every week or so someone would post a message to the group asking where they could find the "Disney font," referring to the scripty lettering of the Walt Disney logo.
Of course, there was no "Disney font." The "Walt Disneys" logotype consists of just those ten letters and did not appear in its current form until the early 1960s; prior to that, the company had used more casual variants of Disney's autograph.
I was in college at this time, and my interest in graphic design was growing into a more focused fixation on fonts and typography. This demand for a "Disney font" seemed like a perfect excuse to try creating an actual font, if only as an experiment.
I scanned a large sample of the “Walt Disney” logotype into my PC and attempted to meld it with an existing freeware font that bore some resemblance to the “Disney” lettering style. This was my first experience with font development, and the resulting “Walt Disney Script” was not particularly pretty. Nonetheless, I published the font in its primitive “beta” form on a webpage hosted on my
Eventually I would learn enough about font development and type design to start over and redraw the entire font from scratch, finally renaming it “Waltograph.”
Have you visited Disney theme parks to conduct research for your creations? If so, which ones?
As a Florida native, I've visited all of the
While doing reconnaissance for the fonts, I spent a lot of time at the parks taking hundreds of photos of various signage, logos and design elements, far beyond the scope of the font projects. This whole process intensified my interest in typography, which soon turned into an obsession. "The Disney Fonts List," which was initially compiled by Tim and myself, was an early effort to create a personal reference for some of the common Disney signage fonts.
The first version was a plain-text file listing 33 fonts. Once it grew to over 200, I formatted it into HTML and added it to my website. It's become a useful resource for graphic designers, some of whom have referred to it when doing contract work for Disney.
Have any particular Disney films inspired you with their typography in opening credits, etc.?
For me, the great thing about the opening sequences in the earlier Disney films is the lack of "typography" per se, since everything was hand-lettered by Disney artists. The opening credits to "Alice In Wonderland" are a personal favorite. The credits for "Sleeping Beauty" are among the various reference materials for my unfinished Disneyland-style blackletter font. Jason Walcott, a talented designer of many script fonts, based his "Peregroy" font on the credits from "101 Dalmatians."
Disney themes aside, what's your favorite font and why?
I think "Avenir" by Adrian Frutiger (1988) is the ideal sans serif typeface. The letter shapes are rooted in clean geometry but drawn with humanistic nuance that gives it a warmer personality. As far as fonts that are freely available, Dalton Maag's "Aller Sans" family (2008) is a fresh, versatile design with three weights, true italics, plus a fun "Display" version.
Tell readers how they can see your Disney-font collections online and how they can use them.
My Disney font collections are available at MickeyAvenue.com. Some of them can also be found at dafont.com, which offers interactive previews and comments.
The fonts are popular for scrapbooking, both physical and digital. "Waltograph" is especially popular for wedding/birthday invitations. I frequently see the fonts used on fan-produced websites, books, videos, T-shirts, etc. The images inside the dingbat fonts can be used for a variety of graphic designs, such as the Epcot icon set by the Iconfactory.
All of my fonts are free for personal, non-commercial use.
Finally, tell a little about each of your Disney-inspired fonts.