-Jenny Greene, Assistant Professor of Astrophysical Sciences & Director of Graduate Studies Princeton University
“While producing documents in Einstein’s handwriting would not alter the quality or respectability of my own physics research, there’s something very pleasing about representing the universe in the same style as someone who was himself so effective at it. It’s also just very nice handwriting, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise: Einstein’s equations were beautiful, so it makes sense that their presentation should be as well!”
-Phil Marshall, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at SLAC Stanford University
Nice to meet you! We are Harald and Liz, the creators of the Albert Einstein handwriting font.
We would like your help to finish production of our invention: a font based upon the handwriting of Albert Einstein. The Albert Einstein font will be compatible with most digital devices, allowing you to "write like a genius" on your computer and phone.
Our project honors Einstein’s innovative style of thinking, which was imaginative, rigorous, and playful. The 2015 release is also coincides with the centennial of the General Theory of Relativity.
The working prototype of the font is pictured here. With this Kickstarter project we are looking to raise funds to invest six-months into the design. Our vision is to make the font even more "life-like" and complete. This involves creating many variations of each letter, and also adding numbers, punctuation, and even mathematical symbols. Back this project with $15 or more and you will receive the Albert Einstein font.
What is a font?
Fonts are the “software” that allow text (letters, punctuation, numbers etc.) to appear on your screen. Common fonts are Times, Arial, and Helvetica. Soon you can also use Albert Einstein's handwriting as a font too!
To answer common questions about how fonts are made and how they work, Harald provides a detailed tutorial below.
The Albert Einstein font is collaboration between a typographer and a dancer: Harald Geisler, graduate of the University of Art and Design Offenbach in Germany, and Liz Waterhouse, BA Physics from Harvard and former dancer with the Forsythe Company in Frankfurt.
The collaboration began in 2009, over a series of coffees in Frankfurt. Liz remembers looking at a text written in a handwriting font (on her napkin at the coffee shop) and asking Harald if he could design one. The idea to make a “life-like” handwriting font from studying penmanship of innovative thinkers came next.
The choice to start with Albert Einstein’s handwriting was aesthetic and pragmatic, even a bit nostalgic given Liz’s memories of reading Einstein's nonscientific essays as a teenager. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Einstein had beautiful handwriting. “Einstein's equations were beautiful, so it makes sense that their presentation should be as well!" says Astrophysicist Phil Marshall (at SLAC Stanford). Einstein’s handwriting reflected movement with clear rhythm, even flow, and soft curves. Harald's task was to develop a font that preserved that feel.
After six months studying examples of Einstein’s handwriting from documents in the Albert Einstein Archives, Harald created a working prototype. Working with a digital pen to follow the rhythm of Einstein’s movement on paper, Geisler’s result had a pleasing and strong resemblance to Einstein’s actual handwriting. In 2014 the Einstein Estate accepted the proposal for an Albert Einstein font.
Harald has had five successful projects on Kickstarter, including his annual Typographic Wall calendar (in 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013) as well as his previous handwriting font, the Sigmund Freud Typeface (2013). By releasing the font via Kickstarter, the team hopes to extend the current state of the design and to share the invention with a diverse audience.
Bellow you will find the following…
How is a handwriting font designed?
Current status of the Albert Einstein font
What is an EULA?
Recognizing the potentially broad community of teachers, design enthusiasts, scientists, Einstein fans and scholars who may be interested in backing this project, we have created a diverse assortment of rewards that enable you to take-home and help-out.
The most important reward is the font itself! In return for your support, all backers will receive the final version of the completed font. As the campaign ends, backers will also initially receive the working prototype and later the beta releases (feedback is much appreciated)--this allows everyone to follow the creative process of making a typeface.
You can combine all rewards. For example: if you like the Postcards($25) and the Pen-pal($35) reward - pledge $60 for the higher reward tier, in this case the Pen-pal reward. Afterwards send me a brief message and will make a note with your pledge.
$15 • ALBERT EINSTEIN TYPEFACE • Congrats! You receive the Albert Einstein font, ready to use on your computer at home (non-commercial), mobile device and you will also get a free Webfont license to use the Albert Einstein font on your website or Blog. See FAQ for Webfont details.
$25 • SET OF POSTCARDS • Congrats! You receive the Albert Einstein font together with a set of 6 Einstein postcards and surprise Sticker. The cards will be printed in 4 color offset on thick postcard paper. Featuring portraits, handwritten documents maybe a page from his travel diary or a page from his math notebooks, quotes from Einstein or anything that relates to Einstein's handwriting. Plus Einstein surprise sticker! (This Reward has been upgraded from 4 to 6 Postcards plus 1 Sticker)
$25 • GIFT THE ALBERT EINSTEIN TYPEFACE • you and a friend, family member or colleague will receive a copy of the Albert Einstein font, ready to use on a computer, iPhone or iPad at home! Please add $10 for each additional recipient. (This Reward has been upgraded like the $15 Reward with additional Webfont)
$30 • (2 FONTS) PEN PALS : EINSTEIN AND FREUD • You receive the Albert Einstein and the Sigmund Freud fonts, ready to use on your computer at home, mobile device and you will also get a free Webfont of the Albert Einstein font to use on your website or blog.
$40 • CHARACTER • Your contribution sponsors the production of an individual glyph or character, including numbers and punctuation signs. At least four variations of each letter must be drawn. In addition to the font, you receive an illustration of "your" character with a dedication through email and a signed print of your letter through physical mail! (Reward has been upgraded)
$50 • EINSTEIN @ WORK • You receive a commercial license for the Albert Einstein font. For a commercial license of the pen-pal reward (Albert Einstein and the Sigmund Freud fonts), please pledge $100. UPGRADED: You will also get a Webfont license to use the Albert Einstein font on your website or Blog. See FAQ for Webfont details.
$50 • EINSTEIN FOR SCHOOLS • You receive an educational license to use the font in a school context, for up to 50 students on computers on tablets. Combine physics and typography to inspire and teach your Students. More students? No problem add +$1 to your pledge for each additional student. UPGRADE: 1 hour Skype (or phone) with Harald to talk about using the font in class.
$75 • PHYSICIST • What mathematical notation does the Albert Einstein font need? The font does not yet include symbols for writing equations. You are making the font even better, by suggesting a character, variable, or mathematical symbol. I will include your selection in the font. In addition to the font, you receive an individual printable illustration of your suggestion with a dedication via email.
UPGRADE: I will print, sign and (physically) mail your suggested symbol, as described above in the CHARACTER reward.
Also I'd like to hear briefly why you think this sign is relevant. You are invited to write a brief description of the sign, which can be one sentence or more.This text I would like to add to the documentation of the work; of course your contribution will be credited.
$100 • 3x EINSTEIN POSTER • In addition to the font, you receive TWO copies of the double sided (printed on front and back) poster with 100 Einstein quotes on each side. The poster is printed in 4 color offset on heavy paper. Size of the print is 70 x 50cm. UPGRADE: Additionally you will receive another Poster relating to Einstein and his handwriting, maybe with original size reproductions of his handwriting, maybe another photo… If you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.
Worldwide shipping included. Please add $20 to your pledge to receive multiples of this set. (This Reward has been upgraded from 1 to 3 Posters)
$100 • CHOCOLATE SPACE • Every time you press the space bar, a space character is needed. Help produce that space bar. In addition to the font, you receive a swiss chocolate bar from Bern. UPGRADE: receive two swiss chocolate bars of your choice! See selection above!
$150 • MYSTERY ENVELOPE • Einstein wrote, "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science." In addition to the font, you receive a surprise gift as a thank you. UPGRADED to DOUBLE MYSTERY: This reward will be send in two different packages from two different locations at two different times!
$250 • CHOCOLATE ZEIT • In addition to the font, you receive a beautiful box of swiss chocolates with a picture of the famous Bern Zytglogge. World wide shipping included. UPGRADE: you will receive two boxes of these exquisite fresh chocolates or one box and one other lower reward of your choice.
$250 • EINSTEIN FOR UNIVERSITY • You receive an educational license to use the font in a university context, for up to 250 students on computers on tablets. Combine physics and typography to inspire and teach your students. More students? No problem add +$1 to your pledge for each additional student. UPGRADE: 2 hour Skype (or phone) with Harald to talk about using the font in university.
$300 • FONT LIBRARY • You receive Harald Geisler's complete font library: 12 Families with 27 fonts. You are credited as a "Library Backer" in the font credits.
$350 • FRAMED POSTER • In addition to the font, you receive a framed poster with 100 Einstein quotes (70 x 50cm) designed especially for this Kickstarter by Harald Geisler. World wide shipping included. UPGRADED: Prints are framed in either black as pictured above or cherry wood or German oak. Also all prints of the $100 Reward are inlcuded and I will add in some Einstein extras for you.
$500 • SWISS TREASURE • In addition to the font, you receive 1kg of Swiss chocolate! That's 10 bars of your choice. In addition, you receive the font and you are credited as a "Swiss Treasure Backer" in the font credits. MASSIVE UPGRADE: 3kg of chocolate for you and I will add some extra Einstein for you.
$750 • TIME TRAVELER • In addition to the font, you receive four high quality archival prints of Einstein portraits from different time periods. All prints arrive framed (30x40 cm) in either cherry wood or German oak. Worldwide shipping included. You are credited as a "Time Traveler" in the font credits. UPGRADE: One framed picture added.
$1000 • PROFESSOR • You receive two rewards of your choice, and you are credited as a "Professor" in the font credits. UPGRADE: Pick 3 rewards!
$2015 • CENTENNIAL • You receive ALL rewards below this tier, and you are credited as a "Centennial Backer"in the font credits. MASSIVE UPGRADE: Can't decide which reward to give away to friends… no problem you will receive all rewards twice!
$2500 • COMMERCIAL FONT LIBRARY • You receive Harald Geisler's complete font library: The final Albert Einstein font plus 12 Families with 27 fonts for commercial use on 20 CPUs. You are credited as a "Commercial Library Backer" in the font credits.
$10000 • GENIUS • You like to support this project generously with more than $10,000. You have something in mind that is not listed here, such as a custom artwork relating to the Albert Einstein font or a combination of rewards from above. Reach out to me through Kickstarter and we can create something together!
Stretch Goal # 1 Reached!
If the campaign reaches $30.000 I will draw a complete 5th Alphabet (In total: 5 versions of everything a-z, A-Z, 0-9… ) to the final release, making a better font for all backers!
Stretch Goal # 2 Reached!
If the campaign reaches $35.000 I will add one complete set of Greek characters. (As suggested by Backer Pacomius. Thanks.)
Stretch Goal # 3 Einstein on the beach… draws a fish.
As suggested by follow backer Peter Baylis, there could be some drawings or emoji's in the font.
A while ago I stumbled upon this beautiful drawing from Einstein's US travel diary in 1930. The entry was made in Pasadena. The Text around the fish says (my translation from German to English):
"4. XII Open sea. Warm Sky White. Huge (1 meter) white-fishes play and jump above the water surface (Drawing) Paparazzi-plague verbally and telegraphic (!) But I am calculating on the law of motion. …"
This image of the playful white-fish above the water surface stuck with me and I hope it will also make it on one of the postcards. If the campaign reaches 2222 Backers I am going to add drawings or dingbats (or emojis) to the font. Of course just drawings from Einstein himself like the one above. I am looking forward to your suggestions, head over to the Einstein Archive and browse the manuscripts - every suggestion from you I will try to add to the font.
How is a handwriting font designed?
by Harald Geisler
In the following tutorial I will use examples from the design process of the Sigmund Freud Typeface to explain different aspects of designing a handwriting font. If you are interested in more details, I have also written a more in-depth article on my process for smashingmagazine.com.
Let's begin with a simple example. When I type the word 'look' in a regular font, the two 'o' look the same. Handwriting has a vivid character because one never writes the same letter twice.
How can a font look like handwriting? One approach to create the natural and vivid look of handwriting is to draw ligatures for frequently recurring letter combinations. Ligatures are drawings of a combination of two or more letters, for example th or re. Yet with this method all "th" and all "re" will look the same.
In my last Kickstarter Project about creating a Typeface that renders Sigmund Freud's Handwriting, I developed a new approach to the situation. Instead of creating one ligature for a specific pair of letters, I created four alternate versions of each letter that automatically "rotate" or "switch" as you type.
I call this method polyalphabetic substitution. The term is borrowed from cryptology, because the algorithm in the font is inspired by the rotating barrels of an Engima encryption machine.
The font's algorithm is not encrypting the message but disguising its computerized origin and therefore creating a look nearly as vivid as handwriting.
In handwriting all letters are connected. How is this possible on a computer? Every writer has their own angle at which one letter connects to the next. Not all letters connect at the same angle, but there is an average. The green guides in the picture below show the average angle of Sigmund Freud's handwriting:
The design process starts with an research and analysis of the handwriting. I read all kind of different documents and mark certain letters that I find not necessarily beautiful but typical for the writers' hand.
These I keep in a notebook:
By hand I digitize the selected letterforms using a cintiq, which is basically a bigger iPad with a very precise pen that allows me to draw directly into the design software.
For me it is important not to scan the image of the letters, nor simply to trace them with an automated software. By reproducing in this analog-digital way, I become familiar with the hand of a writer by copying characteristic letters. Learning the movement that a writer made to create a letter is essential to creating its digital counterpart.
Analyzing how another writer makes the bow of an “l” or the slope of a “g” also affects your own handwriting has surprising side-effects. Suddenly, I found myself writing my grocery lists with Einsteinian (or Freudian) loops and hoops.
The recorded stroke is then modified to render the effect of ink flow from the used writing tool. In this case a pen that creates thick down strokes and a thin upstroke :
This shape is then placed in a font creation software:
This process is repeated for all letters and alternate letters used in the font. How often? For example the Sigmund Freud font has 1467 Glyphs to render text that comes very close to actual handwriting.
Current status of the Albert Einstein font
Currently the Albert Einstein font has 432 Glyphs.
With this campaign I want to extend the current set of letters to at least four complete sets of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, punctuation and accented letters for international communication.
Since Einstein was a physicist and mathematician I would also like to include some of the signs necessary to write mathematical equations. With the physicist reward, experts can help by making suggestions-- taking a step towards towards reproducing the complex formulas that Einstein wrote in his notebooks.
- June campaign succeeds: send out the prototype font to backers.
- Design Phase I • Summer 2015, design 2nd alphabet
- End July 2015 first pre-release to backers with two altering alphabets
- Design Phase II • Sept 2015, design 3rd alphabet
- End September 2015 2nd release to backers with three altering alphabets
- October: Other typographic project: Typographic Wall Calendar 2016
- Design Phase III • Nov 2015, design 4th alphabet
- End November 2015 final release to backers with four altering alphabets
- Release Party • Early December 2015 final release of font to the public. (If stretch goals are reached this will of course delay the final release of the Typeface.)
- Shipping • by mid-January 2016 finishing design of prints and customized rewards (framing, packaging, shipping).
Budgeting • How will the Funding be used?
A Time & Design. Most of the effort will go into drawing the different alphabets and putting them together into the font file. The more funding directed towards this, the more beautiful the result will be for all backers. Funding will cover studio-rent and bills during the six-month development phase as well as a stipend for the creative work. It will also support reaching out to the Kickstarter community and communicating to Press about the Project.
B Licensing fees
C Production and shipping costs. Physical rewards (e.g. a framed picture from Einstein, Einstein Posters, Swiss Chocolate) include shipping and production costs. Shipments from Germany to world wide destinations can be very pricey. An amount of the funding will be spent on sending out the rewards from Harald Geisler's Typographic Studio in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
D Kickstarter fee
E Stripe payment processing fee
EULA • What is an EULA?
EULA means End User License Agreement. Since a font is not only design but also software we need to agree on many things for example what are my responsibilities and what can you expect from this software. You can read the EULA for the Albert Einstein and all my other fonts right here.
Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. As a child, Einstein revealed an extraordinary curiosity for understanding the mysteries of science. In 1905, while working as a patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland, the young physicist Einstein obtained his Doctorate degree and published four of his most influential research papers, including the Special Theory of Relativity. In that, the now world famous equation “e = mc2″ unlocked mysteries of the Universe theretofore unknown. Ten years later, in 1915, Einstein completed his General Theory of Relativity and in 1922 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. It also launched him to international superstardom and his name became a household word synonymous with genius all over the world. Einstein was a founder of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and bequeathed his intellectual property to the institution upon his death in 1955. Recognized as TIME magazine’s “Person of the Century” in 1999, Einstein’s intellect, coupled with his strong passion for social justice and dedication to pacifism, left the world with infinite knowledge and the legacy of pioneering moral leadership.
Harald Geisler was born in Frankfurt am Main and his work is situated between art and typography. His latest font design, the Sigmund Freud Typeface, became the first typeface to be featured in the Wall Street Journal. He is also the publisher of the recent reissue of the Swiss design classic “Designing Programms” by Karl Gerstner, with Lars Müller Publishers Zürich. Geisler’s projects range from font design, to book and app publishing, still life flower prints and calendars. His typographic studio is located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Elizabeth Waterhouse is a dancer with a degree in physics. After graduating with a BA in Physics from Harvard she moved to Europe to dance with the internationally renowned dance ensemble The Forsythe Company, where she worked from 2004 – 2012. Waterhouse is now a PhD student working on the topic of entrainment (i.e. coordinated rhythmic activity) at the University of Bern’s Graduate School of the Arts. Her projects range from contemporary dance, to music theater, movement education and academic writing.
The concept to create a typeface of Albert Einstein's handwriting is based on the idea of Elizabeth Waterhouse and Harald Geisler. Trademark: ALBERT EINSTEIN and EINSTEIN are either trademarks or registered trademarks of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Represented exclusively by Corbis. Official licensed merchandise.
Einstein's Manuscripts used with permission of the Albert Einstein Archive, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Manuscripts from Sigmund Freud by the courtesy of the Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna.
Risks and challenges
Every artistic project bears risks. Every project is new and brings up unforeseeable risks and challenges both technically and artistically. I have published two comparable projects (Sigmund Freud Typeface and Conspired Lovers) so I know about the artistic and technical pitfalls to avoid. The research and preparation that I already made for this project, assures me that I am able of complete this project within the projected timeframe.
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