THE BLOG
04/01/2013 12:43 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2013

Kickstarter Project Turns Sigmund Freud's Handwriting Into a Computer Font

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Sigmund Freud's handwriting will soon be turned into a computer font.

Entitled, "Sigmund Freud Typeface - A Letter to your Shrink," a Kickstarter project, aims to turn the esteemed twentieth-century psychoanalyst's handwriting into a computer typeface that would allow for digital letter writing.

Many articles have questioned whether handwritten letters are a thing of the past, given the prominence of the computer, iPhone, and the like. Indeed, most people probably can't even recall the last time they received a real letter, if ever. Their mail is mainly composed of bills, spam mail, magazine subscriptions, and the occasional birthday or thank you card. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks captured this lack-of-real-mail generation best in You've Got Mail, a movie where two strangers fell in love from "mail" received -- the mail here coming in the form of instant messages over the Internet.

This project gives people the convenience afforded by the computer while maintaining the romantic nostalgia, beauty, and character of letter writing with real handwriting.

German typographer Harald Geisler writes in his Kickstarter page that he was inspired after discovering Freud's letters and pictured someone writing a letter to their shrink in his handwriting.

In addition to the beauty, Geisler shows you can tell a lot about someone from their handwriting.

When one looks at handwriting one remembers the movement that is performed in the execution.... Look at the samples of Sigmund Freud's scientific papers and you feels the strength and decisiveness he expresses, whereas when you look at Einsteins papers you could see the speed in his writing that seems to be already hasting to the next page in his mind."

He admits that nothing beats receiving a letter where you know your loved one's pen actually touched the paper. The electronic version, he says, is the next best alternative.

Geisler is using digital images and photographs of Freud's documents to replicate the font. So far, eight handwritten documents have been chosen -- from 1883 to 1938.

His is a tedious process, he notes, because each letter (and therefore each word) from a document is not exactly the same. So he must utilize many variations of both to render the handwriting into the font's computer memory. Variations of letter combinations from English, Spanish, German, and French will be inputted as well as each language varies in the frequency of certain letter combinations, and in the typographical ligatures or the touching of certain letter combinations like "fi." After studying a great deal the intricacies of the font, he must then build a computerized grid from scratch to use as a frame of reference.

And people have really taken to the idea. The project overwhelmingly succeeded its $1,500 funding goal by securing over $16,000 (as of this writing) in crowd-sourced funding from 932 backers with still 41 days left to back it. The project is expected to be completed by June 2013.

Said one backer:

What a fantastic project! I am thrilled to be a backer. As a fan of fountain pens and beautiful handwriting, I can't wait to have this font to use in my digital documents and collaged journal pages. The design process fascinates me...

Handwriting fonts became popular in recent years, with several apps popping up for the everday person to easily replicate their own handwriting, thereby personalizing their writing. Of course, it's an amateur font and not nearly as authentic and precise as Geisler's process.

But there's been worry that replicating one's signature, for instance, can lead to fraud. Just imagine if Leonardo DiCaprio had this in Catch Me If You Can.

And I wonder what Freud, if he were alive today, would say to Geisler and all the backers of the project to replicate his handwriting.

"So... how does my font make you feel?"