So far, we’ve seen some really clever ideas for Halloween, but this one from a group of R/GA creatives is enough to make us want to stick our heads in the toilet. “Hellvetica” is exactly what it sounds like—hell in a typeface.
The creatives applied some unpredictable, inconsistent kerning to one of the world’s more famous and reliable typefaces, and the effect is truly maddening. Just looking at the letters, randomly squished together or dragged apart with no sense of rhyme or reason is like nails on a blackboard for those who are overly particular about symmetry and spacing.
The creators devised a witty site to promote the font, featuring lines like “send your designs straight to hell” and “welcome to type purgatory.” There are even promotional quotes, like “I don’t hate it,” credited to Satan.
According to one of the creatives, R/GA Associate Creative Director Zack Roif, the inspiration for the font actually came from an office services email invite to a party, which was simply dubbed "Hellvetica."
"The first thing I ever do when I get an idea, particularly when an idea feels so painfully obvious, is to Google it, realize it's been done really damn well, and then get sad and sulk back into my chair at work," Roif says. "I was shocked to find no one had made this font before."
The team applied off-putting spacing to some of the most popular combinations of letters, "and then we tried to make those combinations look as terrible as possible," he explains.
They came up with the Hellvetica quickly, after toying with some other creations with Halloween themes. "We experimented with blood and other ideas, but realized that scary kerning was probably the spookiest way in," Roif says.
More important, Hellvetica serves as an appropriately petrifying homage to the environment in which it was created. "R/GA is a place with an immense passion and rigor around design, [so] to create a total bastardization of a font at a place built on sleek minimal design felt necessary," he says.