Barlow - Graphic Design Font discovery #5


*credit left to right: Shoaib ur Rehman Khan, solublestudio


Barlow is a typeface that was created in 2007 in San Francisco by designer Jeremy Tribby. At that time, Tribby was an engineer and designer for the nonprofit Electronic Frontiere Foundation, an organization that advocates for the preservation and protection of individual freedoms on the internet. It was within this organization that he met the artistic director Hugh D'Andrade with whom he shared an attraction for fonts inspired by the DIN Engschrift grid.

The two men found that no good open source version was available and it was then that Tribby stumbled upon a good image of the Engschrift grid on the internet, which prompted him to sketch manually. It was with the help of new typeface technology that Jeremy Tribby started his project.

The family of characters created by Tribby takes its name from the co-founder of the Electronic Frontiere Foundotion, John Perry Barlow. Deceased in 2018, Barlow was, in particular, author of the Declaration of independence of cyberspace published in 1996 and a fervent defender of Internet users in the face of the growth of digital multinationals. It is for its lasting impact on the "information highway" that Tribby decides to name this project in its honor.



* Félix Javier Marcos Chávez, Wang Zhi-Hong

Barlow typeface is recognized for its optimal readability over long distances. Thus, it is related to Highway Gothie, Clearview, and DIN 1451, used in California for the sign industry. This type of policy is found on road signs, license plates and bus signs, among others. Barlow is a synthetic form of this style of typefaces, specially thought out so that they are seen quickly from a great distance. Barlow is a modern sans serif font with a simple and geometric design designed for efficiency and speed of reading.

It is a grotesque-type “superfamily” with a slightly rounded design and low contrast. It comes in three hunts: Standard, Semi Condensed and Condensed, but also in nine different weights. In addition, it is adapted in italics in all its widths and weights for a total of 54 styles available. To date, it is offered under a free license for all.


Foundry website:

Font specimen: here


* Barlow Specimen, Stephen Coles




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