Conceived by graphic designer and lettering artist Elizabeth Carey Smith, Imaginary Alphabets is a fill-in-the-blanks of found lettering. Through the discovery of existing lettering and the imagining of the rest of the alphabet, this project cultivates a keen eye for letters in our environment and seeks to preserve that lettering through comprehensive drawing and refining. The final culmination is a specimen that both documents the process and debuts the new alphabet.
French Portabella is based on the hand lettered cover of a Mark Twain short story book from 1890. The structured yet elegant script letters appear very French in personality. The subtle changes between the alternate characters began to immediately resonate as true lettering artistry. By breaking apart the script, normalizing the proportions, and creating more consistency in the shapes, it became easier to imagine the letterforms as a more useful set of characters. A poster depicting a book or screenplay cover for a French film seemed apropos to display their supple qualities.