Typeface Design: Gel

Gel is the vessel by which testosterone absorbs into my bloodstream. Every day, I rub an alloted amount of it onto my arms or torso after I shower. I spend a lot of time with this substance—time that is personal, intimate, tender, and experimental—so what would this inherently queer practice look like if I translated it to graphic design?

Typography represents some of the most precise, careful, and mathematical work in graphic design, and I wanted to know what it would look like if I disrupted it with my queer forms of experimentation. What would letterforms look like if they had to be constructed by such an unpredictable substance, one that behaves not fully like liquid but not fully like a solid? What would they look like if they were written out by my hand, specifically?

This typeface forces users to let go of their expectations for what a typeface should be and embrace the imperfection that results from experimental methods. It was hard for me to accept these forms as they are, I've never liked my handwriting and I've always had an unsteady hand. Making and using this typeface forces me to accept my identity, just in a different form, which coincidentally, is what led me to gel in the first place.

To see Gel in use, see (3) Recontextualizing Record Keeping in the project The Governance of Trans Existence.

Gel, 2020. Type specimen.

© Julian Parikh 2022