Dezeen Magazine

Musician-inspired fonts website forced to close after going viral

SongwriterFonts, a website that offered free-to-use typefaces based on the handwriting of famous musicians, has been closed down following legal issues over intellectual-property rights.

Set up by French graphic designers Julien Sens and Nicolas Damiens, the SongwriterFonts website offered five typefaces based on the handwriting of David Bowie, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Leonard Cohen and Serge Gainsbourg.

But after being featured on numerous online publications, including Dezeen, the designers were contacted by intellectual-property rights' owners and had to shut down the website just five days after its launch.

The SongwriterFonts website has been closed down, and is currently displaying a holding page

A message on the website's holding page reads: "We launched the SongwritersFonts project, a series of typefaces created from famous songwriters' handwritings, as a design project. The unique purpose of this was to inspire musicians and the next generation of songwriters to put their imagination at work."

"But, the unexpected success of this project went a bit too far... We have been contacted by intellectual-property rights owners, and are sad to announce that we have to shut this website because of legal issues. We're sorry to have to say goodbye."

Typefaces based on the handwriting of artists including John Lennon (this image) and David Bowie (main image) were free to download from the website

When Dezeen originally ran the story, some commenters were quick to question the integrity of the project.

"Someone's own handwriting is a very personal thing," said commenter Miles Teg. "I don't like the idea of sharing it this way for everyone to use. I'm sure this has been done with good intentions, but comes out as disrespectful at best, in my opinion."

The five typefaces took the New York-based pair a month to develop. They involved researching handwritten documents, including Kurt Cobain's suicide letter, on websites and public libraries to collect examples of the various glyphs.

Kurt Cobain's suicide letter was one of the handwritten documents used in the making of the typefaces

Each symbol was then reproduced digitally using a font software. The resulting fonts were offered as free downloads.

"We developed the songwriter fonts with the idea that it could help a songwriter's imagination to develop by writing in the handwriting on legendary musicians – it's like playing on John Lennon's piano or Kurt Cobain's guitar," said Sens and Damiens.

The designers had originally planned to expand the typeface series to include other musicians, including The Notorious BIG and Janis Joplin.

The fonts followed in the footsteps of BuzzFeed designer Mark Davis's freely available font version of US presidential candidate Donald Trump's handwriting, which is currently still available for download.