Charles Nix, intrigued by the combination of Victorian fancy and Batak arabesque, photographed, sketched and translated the letterforms into a design that is now ITC Batak. Named for the proud ancestors of Samosir’s inhabitants, it is a bold condensed letter with hexagonal serifs – a sort of properly dressed grotesque.
Visitors arrive by ferry into the tiny town of Tuk Tuk, escaping the heat and humidity of the Sumatran jungle. Throughout the village, restaurants and guest houses are adorned with hand-painted signs in bright colors. Perhaps due to Sumatra’s long history of European colonization, the letterforms are reminiscent of those used for posters and handbills in America and Europe at the end of the 19th century, but with a distinctly Southeast Asian flavor.