[Story]Traces of disappearing things.

Traces of Time in Fonts: The "Baemin Euljiro Series" 

For over a decade, Baemin (short for Baedal Minjok) has been collaborating with Sandoll to release a variety of fun and interesting fonts. Under the enthusiastic guidance of Baemin's then-CEO, Kim Bong-jin, who desired a brand-exclusive font that could accurately represent Baemin, the "Baemin Hanna" font was born, inspired by the crude and unique characters found on an old signboard. This led to the creation of several fonts with a retro and kitsch vibe, such as Baemin Jua, Baemin Dohyeon, and Baemin Yeonseong, all of which continue to receive much love. Today, we'll talk about the Euljiro Series. 


The inception of Baemin Euljiro began with a photo of a signboard taken by Seok Geum-ho, chairman of Sandoll, in Euljiro. The handwriting on this signboard, penned by an anonymous signboard artisan in the 1970s, can often be found not only on this particular board but also around Euljiro. Inspired by this photo, Baemin and Sandoll reunited to create a font embodying Euljiro's unique ambiance and history.

Euljiro aimed to encapsulate the disappearing moments of Euljiro into a font. To achieve this, it was necessary to delve deeper into Euljiro's essence. The project began with exploring and documenting the alleys of Euljiro, many of which have now vanished due to redevelopment. Roaming these streets allowed us to experience the distinct sentiment and culture emanating from the rugged signboard lettering, which we endeavored to imbue into the font through extensive discussions with Baemin's design team.

Once we had a solid concept, a Baemin designer took to drawing the characters by hand, creating the initial drafts. These original sketches, penned with a brush, featured varying stroke heights and directions, and each character's endings differed. While preserving the spontaneous nature of these forms, Sandoll's designers worked on correcting any distortions, aiming to maintain internal consistency and proportion after numerous consultations.

Following the initial sketches, the next step was to digitize these into a font, painstakingly drawing each of the 2,350 Korean characters. Given the limited number of original characters, much of the work involved imaginative drawing, often envisioning the process as if I were the anonymous artisan myself. This phase also included drawing Latin characters and punctuation, with Baemin's designers sketching them first by hand, followed by Sandoll's adjustments for the final form. After months of work, Euljiro was launched in 2019.

Following the release of Euljiro, Baemin and Sandoll pondered how to capture the passage of time in Euljiro. This contemplation led to the creation of Baemin Euljiro 10 Years Later and Baemin Euljiro Long Lasting. These fonts aimed to preserve not just a moment in Euljiro's history but its enduring legacy, considering how much wear and readability could be represented in a font.

Baemin Euljiro 10 Years Later embodies the appearance of signboard letters a decade on, imagining the extent of fading and creating a font with about 20% of the letters eroded. To avoid monotony from the repeating pattern of erosion, frequently used characters were designed to fade between 50% to 70%, with an OpenType feature that gradually wears down the letters as they are typed.

Baemin Euljiro Long Lasting sought to capture deeply the passage of time, creating a font that might not be immediately legible but profoundly evokes Euljiro's legacy. Opting for such a font was a challenging decision from a practical standpoint, but it resonated with the desire for Euljiro to convey the stories and memories of Euljiro and its people. In 2021, this vision culminated in the release of the final version of the Euljiro Series, Euljiro Long Lasting.

The Euljiro Series has now become a beloved font, commonly seen in the streets, hoped to be used wherever the traces of time are cherished.