New Typeface Honors Rainbow Flag Creator Gilbert Baker

GIF of Gilbert font (Courtesy of Ogilvy & Mather)

Most of us who type on a computer know we have a wealth of fonts and typefaces to choose from. There’s the classic Times New Roman and the modern lines of Helvetica, which was the subject of a documentary a few years ago. Now there’s a colorful new typeface named Gilbert that was inspired by Gilbert Baker, the San Francisco-based designer of the rainbow flag.

Baker died at the end of March at the age of 66, and his passing inspired marketing firm Ogilvy and Mather to create the font.

“We heard the sad news about Gilbert Baker, and we felt compelled to do it,” said Ogilvy and Mather Creative Director Chris Rowson by phone from New York City.

Ogilvy and Mather has worked for years with NYC Pride and LGBTQ film festival NewFest on a number of pro bono projects, and Rowson said designing a new typeface seemed an important extension of that, giving the LGBTQ community a tool to for creating banners, posters and signs.

Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag, died Mardch 31 at the age of 66.
Gilbert Baker, designer of the rainbow flag, died Mardch 31 at the age of 66 (Courtesy of Cleve Jones)

“It’s a simple gesture,” said Ogilvy Creative Director Rodrigo Moran, who joined Rowson on the phone, “with an amazing meaning behind it.”

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Baker lived in San Francisco for many years, and he designed the rainbow flag in the late 1970’s at the request of the city’s first openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, as a symbol of unity for the LGBTQ community.

“We really studied the geometry of the flag and gave the colors in the typeface the same proportions, the same weight as the colors in the flag," Rowan said.

Rowson and Moran credited the company fontself and Ogilvy designer Robyn Makinson for building the fonts.

The rounded, fluid forms of the letters are a tribute to the design styles and colors of the 1970’s, when the Sony Walkman was popular and Baker created the Rainbow Flag.  

“It’s very hard to strike the right balance,” Rowson said. “The design is very friendly, but bold and powerful too.”

Anyone can use the typeface, downloadable at www.typewithpride.com. There are no patents or trademark restrictions.

And Rowson said this is just the beginning of the project, with other fonts in the same typeface family to come. “This is not a money making project,” Moran said, “this is a way to remember Gilbert Baker.”

Watch a video about the font from Ogilvy & Mather:

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