Freud and Einstein were pen pals. Freud and Einstein were pen pals. Freud and Einstein were pen pals. (Photo: Screenshot)

Want to receive a letter from Einstein and Freud? Here’s how

German designer's quirky idea will have notes from the icons arriving in your mailbox.

In today's world of mass communication, we often take good old-fashioned handwriting for granted.

But German typographer Harald Geisler is hoping to change that. The Frankfurt-born designer has made a name for himself by developing fonts designed after the handwriting of historical figures. In recent years, he created a typeface that mimicked the handwriting of two of the 20th century's greatest thinkers – Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

For his latest project, which launched earlier this month on Kickstarter, Geisler is merging those two figures. We'll let him explain in the video below:

The two icons, who appeared together in NatGeo series "Genius" this summer, were friends and often corresponded with each other. For this project, Geisler decided to focus on letters they wrote 85 years ago in 1932. "I think their letters and genius ideas are worth reading today," Geisler said.

Using the Freud and Einstein fonts he created, he will recreate this particular correspondence. Then he will mail you (or a friend) the letters. But here's the really cool part: These letters will each be sent from the same place and at the same time of year that they were sent back in 1932. Einstein's letter will be sent from Potsdam, near Berlin, later this month and Freud's answer will come from Vienna in September.

Geisler at his studio in Frankfurt, Germany. Geisler at his studio in Frankfurt, Germany. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Creating a font based on a real person's handwriting can be particularly challenging. "My idea was to have different versions of every character, and when you type, these characters change. So you never have the same characters next to each other," he explained. "If you write 'look,' for example, it has two O's but the O's will be different."

In the example above you see that the letters in the Einstein font don't always look the same.The letters in the Einstein and Freud fonts don't always look the same. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

"The work process is way more intense than creating a normal handwriting font," he told From The Grapevine. In total, Geisler created five variations of each letter based on Einstein's handwriting – 5 A's, 5 B's, 5 C's, 5 capital A's, 5 capital B's and so on.

"He asked us for an example of Einstein's handwriting," curator Roni Grosz told us when we visited the Albert Einstein archives on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "So we gave him some examples." But Geisler was voracious, and kept coming back for more. "He said he needed more Q's," Grosz recalled with a laugh.

Added Geisler: "Yeah, in the beginning they were really like, 'What is this guy doing?'"

Each letter of the Einstein and Freud fonts are based on an original source found in their manuscripts.Each letter of the Einstein and Freud fonts are based on an original source found in their manuscripts. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

As for his next project, Geisler said he's juggling a few ideas. One of them is to compare the handwriting of Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr. This year is the 500th anniversary of Luther's Reformation movement, and next year is the 50th anniversary of King's death. "In a way I am hoping to do the same with the handwriting fonts of Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein – to give people a possibility to feel connected to the authors and therefore empowered. Maybe not so much to walk in their shoes but to stand on their shoulders."

The handwriting stylings of Martin Luther (left) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (right) might be the subject of Geisler's next project.The handwriting stylings of Martin Luther (left) and Martin Luther King Jr. (right) might be the subject of Geisler's next project. (Photo: Wikimedia)

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