Our latest typeface, Paint Factory, is inspired by an old marine paint company building that sits on Gloucester Harbor here on the North Shore of Massachusetts. I’ll often make the short trip to G-Lo from Salem in my trusty Boston Whaler, and the building’s giant “MANUFACTORY” lettering greets you on your starboard side as you enter the harbor. If you watch National Geographic’s fishing show, Wicked Tuna, I’m sure this building and the surrounding area looks familar. It’s iconic. Gloucester has an incredibly-storied fishing history.

I absolutely have loved the hand-painted character of the lettering, and it’s angled, chiseled letterforms. I always thought it’d make a great alphabet—one that would feel right at home on an ironic, collegiate sweatshirt or on marine gas dock signage. So, I began doing some reconnaissance in the boat, getting up as close as I could to the weather clapboards.

It turns out the history of the building is quite remarkable. It was the site of Tarr & Wonson, a historically-significant company that developed the world’s first (effective) bottom paint for boats. The building’s current owner and caretaker is Ocean Alliance, a non-profit organization that helps protect whales. They talk more about the manufactory building’s history on their website:

In 1863, Tarr and Wonson received a patent for their revolutionary bottom paint. By 1870 the first buildings of Tarr and Wonson’s paint manufactory appeared at the end of Rocky Neck. One cannot overestimate the effect of the new antifouling paint. It transformed not just the North Atlantic fishery but trade, commerce and even warfare. For many years, Tarr and Wonson made the only bottom paint in America, but it coated the hulls of ships that sailed the world, and is still made today.

There’s a rich imperfectness to the letters, and who could blame the painter when they’ve been tasked with painting 4-foot-tall words on the side of a building. It was fun to replicate the quirkiness found in the angles that made up the “round” portions of each character and bizarre, wonky upper arms of the Y, for example. Taking that DNA and applying it the rest of the alphabet is always my favorite part of a project like this, where you using just a handful of historic letters and imagining how the rest might appear as a fully-developed typeface.

The finished product is an all-caps display typeface that, I hope, embodies at least some of the sturdy, blue-collar, coastal charm of the original lettering. It comes in two styles: Regular and Bold (which is what the orginal letters inspired). You can grab Paint Factory for your own projects right here.