‘A system is more than the simple sum of its parts, it is the parts,
their individual functions and their intrinsic relationships. ’
Karl Gerstner

Earlier this year I ran the first #TypographComp via instagram to discover fresh typo talent for the FreshBet section of TypographJournal Volume03. I was blown away with close to 600 submissions of outstanding experimental letters submitted from all around the world. 

One of the submissions that struck me was not a single letterform, but rather this illustrative alphabetic system called the Guilty Hand. These outstanding typographic experiments were conducted as part of Ruben's Study at Escuela Superior de Diseño de Madrid.

The gloriously guilty V appears on page 144 of Volume 03... And I have been keen to profile this project since the last volume of the Journal went to print. I think the Guilty Hand is a fantastic exploration of type as a repeatable system to convey meaning on multiple levels. It pushes the boundaries (to advance our understanding) of what an illustrative font can be, and how a typeface can function. I contacted Ruben and asked him to share more about the project...


The Guilty Hand Alphabet is a derivative project from The Guilty Hand Font, (winner of two prestigious Spanish design awards). Creator Ruben Chumillas currently has his sights set on «Best student project of the year» for the Art Directors Club Europe.

It began as a collection of sketchbook in which I created anonymous and impossible figures using only black Parker Quink ink and a Pentel brush pen. During an Experimental Typography and Publishing Design course, the illustrations in that sketchbook were streamlined and systematized, producing a typeface known as The Guilty Hand Font Basic. It was made up of 30 glyphs (10 heads, 10 right torsos and 10 left torsos), making it possible to create up to 1000 combinations. It was able to produce graphic narratives, illustrations, animations or multimedia applications in a simpler and more direct way than if I, as the creator, had to draw each one of the elements to be used.
My Degree Final Project has transformed this initial 30-glyph font into a powerful creative tool with 344 glyphs, multiplying the possible combinations and making available to any user a graphic style which previously belonged only to me, as it was the result of my drawing, my movements on the paper. And now it is available with a touch of the keyboard by following simple guidelines specifically designed for it.

Ruben proposed Since antiquity, numerous artists and thinkers have imagined what it would be like to create artificial human beings based on order or chaos in order to project changing identities upon them or depict a new human being.

And then questioned But what if it were language that depicted this being? And what if typography finally depicted humans themselves rather than language? And what if the Being were the Language?

He sought to push lines drawn individually by hand toward a repeatable typeface system.
The system is based on three core concepts

  1. FONT Tool. Conceiving it as a system for organizing space has made it possible to utilize its characteristics and functions for an utterly uncommon use.
  2. EXPERIMENTAL How. Reflecting on this term, grasping its true meaning, has made it possible to develop an organized, standardized method.
  3. USER Functionality. From the start, thinking that someone outside the project might use the typeface has made it necessary to simplify its use.

By utilizing typographic parameters such as kerning and ligatures in an experimental manner, The Guilty Hand Font allows the user to construct illustrations, making them difficult to recognize as a typeface or repeatable elements.

The Guilty Hand Font was built on a hypothesis (the ability to create a complex typeface from illustrations) and allows the method to be repeated by any other illustrator/designer in order to obtain the same result: a typographic system to generate a wide range of combinations using the body parts of the figures, regardless of their style.


Ruben Chumillas Guilty Hand - via TypographHer.com