Nagahama Gothic font

When I started working on my “Bestiary”, I needed a flexible medieval font for the chapter headings. Lower case was easy, as most Gothic scripts are similar, but I could not find a font with upper case that would satisfy me. Remember, this was before Internet flooded the scene with thousands of home made fonts, and my “Bestiary” was a hand drawn manuscript painted on paper. In the libraries I photocopied some fonts I liked, and used them as a base to draw my own. During my next trip to Japan I reworked the font so it was internally consistent, yet flexible enough to develop into illuminated miniatures. That year  “Kehaar” was moored in a fishing harbour of Nagahama in Fukuoka, thus “Nagahama Gothic”.

I am not presenting a computer font. This is only a guideline for hand drawn lettering, and if you feel inspired, fell free to use it anywhere you want.

In Nagahama my first task was the title page of the bestiary.  With the manuscript only 8×5 inches (200x125mm), it got cramped, but my font came through fine. Incidentally, this title page remained unfinished.

The original manuscript has around 140 entries, which makes for 140 capital letters. Most were unadorned, but sometimes I tried to develop them further, while still maintaining constant style throughout the book.

On inspired days I went a step further, even if it meant borrowing from Durer.

Miniature in Jabberwocky was a study for a full sized oil painting.

In the last few entries I deviated wider from the overall style, and some initials became quite large.

Blue background from Arabic manuscripts remain my favourite, and I used it again in the title of this blog.

Photos by Nat from

One thought on “Nagahama Gothic font

  1. These are absolutely gorgeous! You’re very talented. I have a fascination with mythical/nonmythical creatures as well. I studied some quite extensively in college and in my free time. We’d be surprised what actually exists and has existed in this universe.. or in others if we knew the truth.

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