Building the Brooklyn Bridge was hard enough. Rebuilding it out of typefaces has taken Cameron Moll, a designer and lecturer, an insane amount of dedication, meticulousness, and know-how. His typographically re-imagining of the storied New York landmark is the latest in a series of projects rendering world monuments in letters. Before the bridge, he tackled the Coliseum in Rome. “I did the first one, the Salt Lake Temple in Utah, basically as a challenge to see if I could convert something into type,” he told me in an email.
Moll is a digital expert who works with the latest image-making computer software—he uses Adobe Illustrator for these projects—but that doesn’t make the intricate workmanship much easier. “Some characters can be copied and pasted from previously completed sections, but probably 70 to 80 percent of the characters you see in the artwork are positioned, sized, and rotated one by one," he said. "It's extremely tedious, and I can do only about an hour at a time. My eyes literally go bonkers if I stretch it out any longer.”
At the end of every design session, Moll prints out his work to ensure its accuracy. “When the artwork hangs on someone's wall, it needs to looks great up close,” he wrote, “but it also has to look like the building or structure from far away. Printing allows me to inspect close-up details, as well as stand back and assess the piece from a distance.”
Moll works with digitized fonts that are historically related to the periods of the structures. For the Brooklyn Bridge he used a Font Bureau typeface called Antique Condensed that's extremely close to a specimen of type from when the bridge was completed in 1883. For his rendering of the Coliseum, in addition to Frederic Goudy's version of the classic Trajan, Moll digitized several glyphs based on the work of Italian calligrapher M. Giovambattista Palatino, which are used throughout the artwork.