Readers and authors are used to thinking of fonts as ways to improve the reading experience, but on occasion activists use them to make a point. A few years back a designer at the Rhode Island School of Design developed a font intended to thwart text recognition apps, and now someone has created a font to bring your attention to our current problem with US Congressional district boundaries.
The font is called Ugly Gerry, and is available as a free download.
The word gerrymander was coined in 1812 to describe the district lines drawn by then MA governor Eldritch Gerry. One of the districts in the city of Boston vaguely resembled a salamander, and after a political cartoon called it a “gerrymander”, the name stuck.
As they explained in a press release, the font’s creators, James Lee and Ben Doessel, created Ugly Gerry to raise awareness and provide a way for voters to protest partisan gerrymandering.
After seeing how janky our Illinois 4th district had become, we became interested in this issue. We noticed our district’s vague, but shaky U-shape, then after seeing other letters on the map, the idea hit us, let’s create a typeface so our districts can become digital graffiti that voters and politicians can’t ignore.
Each of the characters in this font represents a different Congressional (for the most part). A few of the characters like the letter X are composed of two adjoining districts, other letters such as N, S, and U represent single districts.