Here are two stories of how the transition from hand-made letters to fonts have supported positive social ends. Homeless Fonts from Barcelona and Hand-Painted Type from India are both inspiring tales from the intersection of the analogue and digital realms…

Homeless Fonts is a collaboration between the Arrels Foundation, who work with the homeless of Barcelona, and advertising agency The Cyranos McCann. Inspired by the ubiquitous writing on pieces of cardboard from Barcelona’s homeless, a series of 10 fonts were developed and made available for sale. Each font is named after the homeless person whose handwriting it originates from, and the money raised goes to fund the work of the Arrels Foundation. They can be viewed and purchased from

The homeless of Barcelona, and beyond, regularly use handwritten signs.

Handwritten signs by Barcelona’s homeless.

Guillermo originating the raw material for the development of the fonts.

Capturing the handwriting through photography and film.

Using a different approach to capturing the lettering from Guillermo Pizarra.

Loraine Valonga at work.

The fonts available to buy at

Loraine Valonga’s font in use on this packaging.

Last night the project was recognised with a graphite pencil in the renowned D&AD design and advertising awards. I was lucky to help facilitate the jury that judged this alongside a number of other entries in the Crafts for Advertising category. See all the winners here.

The project has some similarities to the brilliant Hand-Painted Type initiative from India. This recognised the technological threat to the work of traditional signwriters who were losing trade to printed lettering and design. A series of signwriters created full alphabets and special characters which were then developed into a series of fonts. Again, these are for sale with all the fund going to the original signwriters.

More and more are being added over time from signwriters across the country. Here are a selection with the stories behind them and the links to buy them available at







Kafeel (Urdu)

Kafeel (Hindi)