Photo-Lettering in the House!

A design FYI: House Industries, those master purveyors of retro design, Planet of the Apes font packages and tiki glasses have come up with something that could turn out to be super exciting: customized, downloadable display type setting. The fact that this venture is based on the collection from the old Photo-Lettering type house—an industry mainstay from 1936 until 1997, officially, but really it gave up the ghost in the late 80s— makes it really appealing for typographers, type hipsters, and old-timers*. This was touted a couple years ago but I think it is only just now live.

Set your headline in one of the types offered on the site, pay a relative pittance et voila! download scalable vector files. You can even get subscription access for multiple settings and downloads. In 2003, House Industries purchased Photo-Lettering's files and holdings. They then digitized some of the 6000+ faces in the Photo-Lettering catalog and created the really clever interface—see directly above. You can alter widths and weights on certain types, choose colors for shaded or two-tone faces. Currently there are only about 42 faces available, however, far too few for my taste. Unless you really want to set a lot of type in "Kerpow".

Dont miss the history section for lots of pics and great info about the original Photo-Lettering.

*Speaking of old timers, I was just telling a type friend how the old brown and white Photo-Lettering catalog used to depress me at my first real design job. It sat on the shelf and exuded brownness. It was fluorescent lights and polyester in book form. It featured many of the somewhat vulgar typefaces (like Harry Fat or Mistral) that we—classically minded, tasteful, modernist-inflected designers for a Cultural Institution—weren't supposed to give the time of day to. Now that it has been resurrected, it all seems so fun and lively!

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