While many typefaces out there follow the classic rules of typography, Group Font is different. Each letter and number of its alphabet has been crafted by a different creative, in fact there are even two versions of every letter. Graphic designer and activist Raissa Pardini has initiated the project during the rise of Covid-19, in order to connect the design community during the lockdown – and raise money for WHO, Campaign Zero, Black Visions Collective, ACLU and Know Your Rights Camp. “I wanted the creative community to get together during a time where everyone was asked to stay at home”, Raissa tells Collide24 about this mega project, that involved 37 designers, illustrators and lettering artists from around the world. “Each artist had one or two letters and we made an alphabet of two caps and a set of numbers. It’s a wild font, but it fulfills its purpose. We are very proud of the outcome and the money we raised so we decided to spread the donations and help different funds and charities.”
Apart from a moodboard, the brief was quite open, leaving room for every artist to express themselves freely and contribute each letter in their own personal style. “I wanted them to do their thing. A real spirit of trust and community”, Raissa explains. The letters of this irregular typeface are an eclectic mix, ranging from playful illustrations to futuristic forms and technically impeccable designs. Among the contributors are Tamara Arkatova, Aaron Lowell Denton, Sophy Hollington, Nam Huynh, Jess Ebsworth, Benedikt Luft, Barbara Malagoli, FISK, Tim Presley – and many, many more (full list below). “The best moment of this collaboration was when it all came together and finally presenting the font to the world. I couldn’t even sleep. I was very excited to see where this whole journey would take us. I’ve tried to contact everyone to feature the font since we wanted to donate as much as possible”, Raissa states, referring to articles about the projects on big platforms like It’s Nice That and Creative Review.
With so many creatives working together on one typeface, Group Font breaks the standard rules of typography. “Typography has always had an old fashioned and traditional look to most people. Then designers started to manipulate or make their own fonts. And that’s when they finally noticed the creative potential of typography”, Raissa concludes, “This was the result of having digital platforms that gave creatives the chance to work on fonts easily. The old way of manipulating fonts would have been such a long process, only allowed in certain facilities and with certain machines. We can now create more aesthetic types of typography, like what I do with letters. Letters become the central focus of my artworks, separated from alphabets and sets. A new way of designing something that we always had.”
It’s this energetic and experimental design approach, that makes Raissa widely recognized within the design community. The graphic designer has studied Visual Arts in Milan and after several years in Berlin and London, she finally moved to Glasgow to open her own studio – a really important step in her career. “It was scary, but necessary. I would either try do design on my own terms or just give it up completely. So, I gave design one more chance and it worked out”, Raissa tells us, “Glasgow also gave me something that I couldn’t find in any other city. Freedom, space, time. Very valuable things for a creative mind, yet very difficult to find (especially at the same time).” With her bold and colorful style, she occupies a unique space as a designer in the music industry, working for exciting acts as Idles, The Orielles, Squid and many more.
Ranging from animation to lettering and branding, Raissa’s work is heavily involved in activism. “My activism drives my art and my art is my escape from a society that I don’t agree with sometimes. Artists can send powerful messages with what they create and that’s why art is so important. Art shows the real side of everyone of us”, she states, while emphasizing the difference between an artist and a designer, “Designers have briefs and budgets from clients. Artists work on their own art. It can be very hard to satisfy the client and express yourself as an artist at the same time. But it’s a beautiful challenge. There’s always a way to send the right message and to design the right thing. I can’t work for companies that don’t share my ethics, I try my best to do my research before working for anyone. I always make sure my inbox is open for people to share their experiences and thoughts about anything and anyone. We can always do better, if we listen.”
Looking into the future, Raissa plans to immerse herself in more research about typography, especially regarding the history of languages and cultural aspects. “Typography is really important. It’s how we communicate through reading, informing, guiding. And typography isn’t only signs and books anymore, people seemed to have been finally understood its importance and beauty”, she says, “There’s so much more to learn and to understand about typography. The importance of translating a language the right way, with the right letters. The importance of respecting its history, while projecting it to a more contemporary twist. I see many things happening in typography in our future and I’m excited.”
Treating it as the unique and special project it is, there will probably be no second edition of Group Font, but Raissa is definitely open for new collaborations and group projects in the future. “Collaboration is really important to me on so many levels”, she states, “When collaborating with someone, I grow personally, as well as professionally. I learn to listen and trust another creative, even if it can be awkward and challenging sometimes. I learn to be honest and respectful. I get inspired by others and give 1000% of myself, when I work with someone else. We all have our own ways to think and create. It’s fascinating to be able to see how other people work from up close.”
Full List of Contributors:
Aaron Lowell Denton, Alec Tear, Barbara Malagoli, Ben Tipton, Benedikt Luft, Bijan Berahimi, Brandon Nickerson, Combrisi, Connor Mikita, David Strother, Dnorsen Design, Dominic Kesterton, Ethan Fender, Félicité Landrivon, Gabriel Alcala, Gabinete Exquisito, Gregory Page, Jackie Rivera, Jake Farmer, Jess Ebsworth, Mathery, Nam Huynh, Parco Studio, Polytype, Raissa Pardini, Renato Flores, Robbie Simon, Ruan Van Vliet, Sam Sheridan, Simen Royseland, Sophy Hollington, Stephen Rossi, Studio Sofa, Wedge Studios, Tamara Arkatova, Tiernan Crilley, Tim Presley