About This Project

This was an individual project for my Typography and Layout class at CSUSB. Over the course of four weeks, I created a concept, designed a typeface based on research, and made a digital font.

The Assignment

In this project, we were tasked with designing an expressive typeface for a fictional artist.

My Deliverable

I created Comette, a geometric sans-serif typeface for display. Inspired by the Motown era, Paul Renner's Futura, and the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Comette embodies a retrofuturistic look.


Imagining the Artist

I started this project by imagining my artist. I wanted the retro feel of a Motown group with an afrofuturistic direction like Janelle MonĂ¡e. I created a mood board to gather all of my inspiration in one place.

A Pinterest mood board with images of Afrofuturistic art, Motown ephemera, Janelle Monae album covers, and geometric typefaces. The overall color palette is yellow, orange, pink, and purple.

My mood board for The Comettes.

I created The Comettes, named for the celestial body in the fashion of Motown groups like The Ronettes and The Supremes.


Retrofuturism Through Type

My retrofuturistic vision for The Comettes required a balance of old and new in my typeface design.

After researching the history of sans-serif typefaces, Futura became a major inspiration for my typeface. Designed by Paul Renner in 1927, today it can be considered a past vision of a modern future.

Futura has also come to be associated with space and the future. In 1968, it was featured prominently in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey— another past imagining of the future, by today's standards. And, a year later, Futura really made it to outer space. When Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon, a commemorative plaque— set in Futura— was left behind.

Stainless steel plaque that reads: Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.

The Apollo 11 plaque. Photo: NASA.

I discovered that Futura was actually a favorite of NASA for a time. From about 1961-1976, Futura was used on all of their materials [1]. NASA will always have a futuristic feel, but the era defined by Futura is situated firmly in the past.


Sketching Letterforms

Inspired by Futura and its place on the Moon, I decided to design a geometric sans-serif typeface.

I started by sketching geometric letterforms.

After some feedback, I opted for a low x-height and I worked on adapting my letterforms to create additional letters.

Increasing Fidelity

Next, I created vectors for each letter in Illustrator. I built each letter on a grid, using straight lines and circle segments for curves.

Black characters from the Comette typeface, composed of capital letters, digits 0 through 9, and various symbols.

Creating a Font

I imported my vectors into BirdFont to create a working font file. Then, I used Comette to create mockups of concert tour ephemera for The Comettes.

Final Design

A phone mockup showing The Comettes' Instagram profile. The 9 most recent posts create one photo of a Black woman looking into a mirror with dramatic makeup and lighting. The text on the photo reads: The Sounds of Earth. 2022 Tour.

Instagram tour announcement.

A billboard showing a Black woman looking into a mirror with dramatic makeup and lighting. The text on the billboard reads: The Comettes. The Sounds of Earth. 2022 Tour. Tickets on Sale Now.

Billboard ad.

The back of a black hoodie. The text on the hoodie reads: The Sounds of Earth Tour. Various summer dates and locations across the United State are listed.

Concert tour hoodie.


What I Learned

The best part of this project was researching typographical history. Learning about Futura and NASA and the Moon was really interesting. It's amazing how much history a typeface can have and how that history informs our visual language and interpretation today— whether we are aware of it or not.

Next Steps

If I were to revisit this project, I would start by revising a few of my symbols. Looking back, I can see that my apostrophes and quotations aren't distinguishable from hatch marks. Updating these symbols would also influence the design of my comma and semicolon. From there, I would want to expand this typeface to include lowercase letters and additional symbols.


  1. Thomas, D., & Lupton, E. (2017). Never use Futura. Princeton architectural press.