The Garage Gothic™ font family was created in 1992 by the prolific type designer Tobias Frere-Jones. It was inspired by the letterforms found on the numbered tickets given out to motorists at city parking garages. Heavier versions of the font came from similar letterforms found at other garages in the city.
Garage Gothic History
Tobias Frere-Jones was born in 1970 and came from a rich publishing and writing bloodline, with relatives including Edgar Wallace, the screenwriter responsible for the creation of the King Kong script. His grandfather, Alexander Stuart Frere-Reeves, was chairman of the board at the British publishing house William Heinemann Ltd.
Upon graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992, Frere-Jones joined the famous Font Bureau and shortly thereafter, Garage Gothic was born. The letterforms were initially based upon those found on city parking garage tickets. Irregularities and oddities found on the letters were kept, but restrained slightly in the final typeface. Three styles are available: Regular, Bold and Black.
Over his seven year career as Senior Designer with the firm, he created some of the most well known Font Bureau typefaces, including the Poynter Oldstyle™ and Interstate™ font families. When he left the company in 1999, Frere-Jones went on to pursue solo interests, setting up a new foundry in Manhattan with Jonathan Hoefler known as Hoefler & Frere-Jones. To date, he has produced more than five hundred typefaces, collaborating with companies like The New York Times, The National Design Museum and Neville Brody.
Garage Gothic Usage
Because of its variable weights and sturdy structure, Garage gothic has found itself in use in various arenas including tangible print and digital design. Its robust qualities have been particularly successful in packaging creation and logo design.
The 20th Century Masters CD collection make use of Garage Gothic on their CD covers and inserts; these CDs are then commonly sold in retail stores around North America. Other examples of Garage Gothic in use include promotional materials for The Vagina Monologues as well as advertising for a lecture at Reed College about the 1980’s non-fiction book A People’s History Of The United States, given by its author and political activist Howard Zinn.
Garage Gothic Media Coverage
Because of its widespread use in print, Garage Gothic is easy to find in the media. Its heavy styling is perfect for headline use in magazines and newspapers alike. Additionally, the font lends itself well to advertising and promotional materials creation in all three available weights (sometimes in combination with one another).
“Pay Attention and Keep Breathing” – a quote by the late by Terrence McKenna – was used in a Cargo Collective campaign and, like the Cargo logo, was set in Garage Gothic. The Cargo Collective is a creative publishing platform designed to increase the online exposure of artistic individuals.
Garage Gothic Notes
In this creative style, a designer will create an aged, rustic look (in various degrees of subtlety) – almost like a modern version of an old Wild West poster. Usually, the fonts used are either “pre-aged” or rendered as an aged version via various graphic methods.