The History of Typography by
Ben Barrett-Forrest


Hundreds of cut-out paper letters tell the history of typefaces in this stop-motion animation by Canadian graphic designer Ben Barrett-Forrest.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

Starting in the fifteenth century with Johannes Gutenberg's Blackletter font, The History of Typography charts the major innovations in font design up to the present day.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

Barrett-Forrest explains the variations between early serif fonts such as Caslon and Baskerville and how they evolved into modern sans serif fonts such as Futura and Helvetica.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

Cutting out and animating the letters took Barrett-Forrest around 140 hours over a period of two months, on top of dozens of hours of research and post-production.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

"It was fairly tedious cutting out almost 300 paper letters, especially the serif typefaces with their tiny spikes, but it soon became almost meditative," says Barrett-Forrest.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

"I feel that I have a much closer connection with each of the typefaces that I addressed, now that I have laboured to create each one."

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

Originally from Whitehorse in the northern Canadian territory of Yukon, Barrett-Forrest is currently studying multimedia at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He also runs Forrest Media, a graphic design and media production company.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

Other fonts on Dezeen include a typeface of impossible shapes inspired by artist M.C. Escher and graphic designer Neville Brody's reworking of the Royal College of Art's house font – see all fonts.

The History of Typography by Ben Barrett-Forrest

We recently featured an animation of the best-known buildings of 26 architects, one for each letter of the alphabet – see all animations.

  • Clément


  • Fascinating! I love a nice font!

  • Andrew

    A truly beautiful and artistic animation!

    Thanks so much for posting this.

  • Paul

    I enjoyed every second of this movie!

  • Fed

    What did he say about Comic Sans? A ha ha

  • HGD

    Nicely played. Typography rules.

  • The classically endowed city of Rome attracted the first printers known to have set up shop outside Germany, Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweynheim, closely followed by the brothers Johann and Wendelin of Speyer (de Spira), and the Frenchman Nicolas Jenson. The sequence of appearance and production dates for types used by these printers have yet to be established with certainty; all four are known to have printed with types ranging from textur Gothic to fully developed romans inspired by the earlier humanistic writing, and within a few years the center of printing in Italy shifted from Rome to Venice.

  • guest

    No mention of Korean typography in this Eurocentric historical account.

  • roberto

    Or any other Asian script whatsoever!

  • Jack

    Graceful and informative. Well done.

  • Design Pataki

    Superb video! Loved every second. Very well put together.

  • Matt

    Awesome presentation but I’d take issue with your characteristics of “old style”, “transitional” and “modern” serif typefaces.

    To me, old style, transitional and modern serif faces are not defined by serif weight or horizontal-to-vertical stroke ratios, but by the incremental transition from more calligraphic shapes to more mechanical ones.

  • Roberto Frau

    I was expecting some words about monotype.

  • Bill

    Beautifully done but surely it’s ‘A’ history? ;) Also, there was no need for the cheap shot at Comic Sans. There are far worse typefaces out there.

  • jaxe


  • OooShiny

    Oh my… this interesting video needs new narration. The croaking voice was almost unbearable.

  • pagesimon

    Great to show graphic design students just beginning!