Gilbert font created in tribute to designer of Rainbow Flag

Gilbert font created in tribute to designer of Rainbow Flag

Following the death of Gilbert Baker – the designer of the universal symbol of gay pride, the Rainbow Flag – advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather has created a font that commemorates his achievements.

Baker was a San Francisco-based artist but also an activist for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer) rights, and he designed the Rainbow Flag in 1978.

After hearing of Baker's death earlier this month, London-based former collaborator Ogilvy & Mather teamed up with organisations Newfest and NYC Pride, as well as foundry Fontself, to create a font paying tribute to his contributions to LGBTQ communities.

"We wanted to create something in memory of him, something that would celebrate his life but also celebrate the icon, which is the rainbow flag," said Ogilvy creative director Chris Rowson.

"It's powerful because of the colours and the meaning behind each of the colours," he added. "That was the real inspiration; we wanted to celebrate something that he created that actually changed peoples' perception of that community."

Because Baker created his flag towards the end of the 1970s, the team wanted to represent the typography and graphic language of that era through their design.

Rowson described the design process as "dissecting the flag", with the team pulling apart its colours and proportions to create simple, elongated rectangles.

The rectangles were then manipulated and overlaid to form each letter. Where the shapes cross over, colours are blended – a decision Rowson said was representative of the "open and fluid community".

"We liked the idea of that crossover and that overlay, it kind of creates new things," he said. "People aren't just one thing, they're not just gay, or not just transsexual, everyone can be a mixture of things."

Gilbert font by Type With Pride

Ogilvy hopes the font will be used to create banners for rallies and protests, with users able to download it for free from the Type with Pride website.

The Type with Pride site also offers free downloadable artwork featuring the typeface.

"This is just the start of the project, we really want it to grow and would love to the see the font held high a rallies, marches and the upcoming Pride events," said the Rowson. "We're going to create contests for the design community to become involved and also eventually release a whole family of the font."

Baker's Rainbow Flag was added to the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) permanent collection in 2015.

Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at MoMA, told Dezeen then that the Rainbow Flag had served as a "politically powerful, meaningful, and also aesthetically effective symbol" for almost 40 years.

"The creation of new symbols for a changing world is a significant way for design to give definition and direction to human life, and one of MoMA's goals is to acquire the art of our time," she said.

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Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride
Gilbert font by Type With Pride