“I fell in love at the age of twelve in Wales,” recalls Bernard Philpot. “My father brought me to a small graveyard in the Welsh hills to show me two headstones carved by the great Eric Gill. I instantly fell in love with the beauty of the carving and the perfection of the letterforms. I still go back to marvel at these works of art.”
Bolthole is a craggy sans serif with a definite grumpy attitude. It’s not terribly legible, and, if more than a few words are set in the design, it’s not very readable. To round out its cranky personality, Bolthole does not like to be set in small sizes.
Like Cheez Whiz® and bullfights, you either love or hate this typeface. But whichever emotion dominates, there is no denying that Bolthole has a personality to be reckoned with – one with ample magnetism to ensure reader attraction. If used to set brief blocks of display copy, the typeface makes a powerful statement.
Bolthole was originally designed to complement a whimsical ad for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. As Philpot recalls, “although the ad didn’t win any awards, the type attracted some very positive comments for its original look and feel.”
Philpot studied graphic design and typography at the London School of Printing, and soon after graduation found himself working in a large advertising agency in London. According to Philpot, “After designing type for everything from packaging to ads, I thought it time to convert one of my designs into a complete font – and Bolthole was born.”
ITC Bolthole could very well be the Shrek™ of typeface design – which might not be such a bad thing.