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'A Letter to your shrink' is about creating a font based on Sigmund Freud's handwritten letters. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on May 8, 2013.

'A Letter to your shrink' is about creating a font based on Sigmund Freud's handwritten letters.

Archive Fever

Dear Backers,

In this update I like to share my impressions from the brief visit at the Sigmund Freud Museum last week. I traveled from Frankfurt to Vienna to prepare the creation phase of the Sigmund Freud Typeface after the Kickstarter campaign ends on May 8 2013 7:32p.m. CEST.

In a little more than 48hours I had to:

  • visit Freud’s former home in Berggasse 19 (Sigmund Freud Museum) 
  • visit the archive that stores the original documents  
  • organize and set up the work space in Vienna.

Arriving in Vienna on Thursday afternoon my first appointment was to visit Berggasse. Peter Nömaier from the board of the Museum welcomed me very friendly and gave me a tour through the rooms in which Freud lived for almost 50 years with his family, dined with colleagues, treated patients and developed his theories. Kindly the Museum supports the Sigmund Freud Typeface Project and allows me to use the library and provides access the archive during the creation phase in Vienna. (Kind of funny that just as I am writing this, I realize that I had my first cup of viennese coffee in Freud’s former home!)  

Friday I visited the archive. It seizes a complete floor above the museum. You can imagine how excited I was to get access to the originals that I only knew from the computer screen.

Everything here is stored behind a fancy alarm, hidden from sun light in special archival boxes and archival bags, numbered and sorted.

I randomly picked two examples, and how lucky I was: The document pictured on the right (#20/38), a letter from Freud to french actress and singer Yvette Guilbert dated 1926,  is another example for my theory that Freud switched between (German) Kurrent and (Latin/English) Cursive handwriting, as he switches languages. In the example I used in the project description he quotes a complete sentence. In this example (#20/38) he even switches styles because of writing an english name Miss Dorothy Hunt in the fourth line. (Btw. for those of you interested in the complete letter, you can find it as a PDF in the PADD online database here: http://www.padd.at/padd/Web_open/show_obj.jsp?id=352&lang=1 )

Looking at the letterheads (1905 left, 1926 right) from a designers viewpoint, I find it interesting that in both examples the imprint is positioned in the same (rather modern) way. Only the typeface changes from a blackletter (in German: broken script) typeface (Fraktur) to a very modern (back then contemporary) geometric typeface without serifs. Still today I find the design quite bold in it’s functional minimalism; it expresses a certain decisiveness or reassurance. The minimalism of his stationary is very opposed to the interior design of Freud’s home.

A word about the museum: The architecture of Vienna is dominated by the aesthetics of the 19th century. While approaching the house in Berggasse 19 it is easy to fade back into this charming time. One enters from the street through a large gate, on the left the pathway for the horse-drawn carriage, to the right the grand staircase leading to the apartments. The details in the building like the mere hight of a room, the stucco on the ceiling, wooden banister rails, decorated doors with shiny doorknobs, wooden window frames, the parquet flooring… all points to a distant past, a time when an Emperor ruled an Austrian Empire, a time of horse-drawn carriages. But as distant it might appear, this house was actually build around 1891, about 120 something years ago and only about half a decade after Carl Benz patented the first car in Mannheim.

In 1938 Freud had to leave Vienna to escape Nazi persecution. All his belongings he took with him to London. The checkroom for his patients, now behind glass, is the only original furniture one will find here. What Freud left in Berggasse 19 was emptiness and a checkroom. His daughter Anna Freud, later donated the furniture used in the waiting room. The original experience a visitor can gain from a visit is to enter the praxis's checkroom and wait (and use the restroom). Despite very few relics like a pen or original business card of the former resident, the Museum appeared to me rather as a space to walk in, than a place to encounter an object, as one would expect from a museum. And it is quite inspiring to walk through this absence on parquet under stucco decorated ceilings… and to enjoy the view that Freud had through the rear window from his office.  The few exhibits do remind of the important historic person Freud  and the reasons why he had to leave.

The Freud Museum Vienna is a vivid and crowded place. A contemplative moment in pure silence is rather rare. Mr. Nömaier points out that every year almost 90.000 interested visitors wander on the parquet, watch documentaries, encounter contemporary artworks inspired and related to Freud’s work. Of course like in every museum exit through the gift store.

I bought a pen and postcard picturing the original couch, that is exhibited in London.

Every place has certain sounds to it. I collected little video snipetts and arranged them, to give you an impression of the atmosphere at the museum. I hope you enjoy it:

About the delivery of the Rewards

I am getting more and more requests about the delivery of the rewards. After the campaign ends, Kickstarter offers the possibility to send out a survey to all backers. Then I can request the necessary information from you . For example: you chose to receive the Sigmund Freud Font in a letter from Vienna, then I will ask for your Address. If you chose to gift the font to someone, I will ask for the presentees address and a personal message you would like add (that will then be printed in Sigmund Freud's handwriting). If you optioned for a digital Reward, (i.e. SIGMUND FREUD @HOME, JOURNAL, @WORK or the Ligature Reward) I will ask for your email to send you the reward or a code so that you can download and use it directly to your computer. If you combined different rewards i.e. send a gift and get a copy you will be able to leave a note to remind me. If you should encounter any problems during that I am happy to provide help.

Ligature Reward - Over a hundred backers optioned for the Ligature Reward or above (Word $50, Signature $100, or Cake Level Backers). From you I will need additional Information, the ligature (combination of two or more letters), the word or names you want me to add to the font. These ligatures are essential to the quality of the font. The more I can build into the final font file - the more it will look like actual handwriting. Because the funding went so extraordinary good I will include from my side more ligatures than I initially planned. In the next update I will publish a list of all combinations that I will include and ask you to submit your personal selection that you want to be drawn. I like to make this process as transparent as possible to avoid that two backers choose the same word or ligature. I am still looking for an 'online list management tool' that allows participants to add to a list without creating an account at some site, but could not jet make a find. If you have any advise please point me in that direction. The backup plan is to process it through the comments or personal messages on Kickstarter and manually make a list that I continuously update.

Whats up next?
A Cake special! Yes I did not only went to museums and archives… I also spend a little time thinking about the cake level backers and found the most amazing cakes from Vienna. But that is for the next but one update…

Yours Sincerely,

Harald

PS.: You can find the Sigmund Freud Museum Vienna on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sigmundfreudmuseum