With an undeniable passion for lettering, Ian Barnard is positively overflowing with creativity. A typographer who never imagined he’d find himself immersed in this career to begin with, Ian absolutely adores what he does. His earliest introduction to type design began about four years ago when he explored the art of calligraphy and hand lettering, regularly sharing his creations on Instagram. “One day, one of my followers asked whether I would ever produce a font from my lettering work,” Ian recalled. “I decided to have a go at it, and really enjoyed creating it and putting it out there for people to use.”

The rest is history, although Ian admits that type design presented a rather steep learning curve. Still, he’s eternally grateful to have seized the opportunity to learn it and he always enjoys catching sight of his fonts out there in the design world. In fact, seeing one of his own handmade fonts in an advert for Krispy Kreme donuts has been one of his proudest achievements so far. “That a large brand would choose my typeface to be used on a poster just blew me away,” Ian told us.

Ian Barnard is relatively new to YouWorkForThem and we’re excited to feature his latest type design, Northern Soul. This hand-drawn brush duo offers a printed all-caps letter set along with a shabby-chic cursive script, the perfect complements to one another.

Inspired by inky, hand lettered poster designs, Northern Soul is an illustrated work of art. “I used song lyrics to write out pages and pages of words to get the look I was after, because I was constantly thinking about the flow of the words rather than the individual letters,” Ian explained. “My main tool for this part was an art paint brush and some Indian ink. I did the script version first and then went on to the caps style to match them both up. Once I’d done that part of the process, I would go through and mark the ones I thought worked the best and took them onto the computer.” Working diligently each day, Ian completed Northern Soul in two weeks’ time.

Music shaped the letterforms as well as the title of this font. “The name happened to come from an album I listened to a lot when I was younger. I came across it again while I was working on the cover and it felt like it just worked well having two words in the title,” Ian observed. It was happenstance that Ian’s two favorite letters, O and R, would take center stage in the cover design for Northern Soul.

“The cover was designed while I was taking a class on how to do illustrations in Photoshop,” Ian told us. “I was so pleased with the finished artwork that I had to use it. The fact that it matched perfectly with the font was a blessing!”

As with most of his connective script fonts, Ian has found that the single greatest challenge lies in linking some of the letters together. “The usual culprits of this are the lowercase ‘s’ and ‘r’. Once they have been sorted out, the rest is slightly easier to complete,” Ian said. He now tends to focus on those two letters in the very beginning, finding that it speeds up his workflow through the rest of the alphabet until the moment the entire font finally comes together.

Northern Soul is playful and warm, with an old-fashioned charm that’s equally at home in both contemporary projects and vintage-inspired designs. This communicative type design conveys its message with enthusiastic sincerity, making it wildly appropriate for inspiring poster designs, thought-provoking social media images, eye-catching apparel, attractive organic food packaging, shabby-chic fashion advertising, handcrafted labels, greeting cards, and so much more.

With the combination of bold all-caps lettering and a stylish cursive script, Northern Soul offers endless design possibilities. The upper and lowercase letter sets of Northern Soul Caps offer alternate styles for more letter variation. Multilingual support extends to Basic Latin, Western European, Euro, Baltic, Central European, and Pan African Latin for a wide scope of accessibility.


Right now, Ian Barnard offers just two products through YouWorkForThem, but he’s currently working on a clean brush font and a vintage monoline script. One thing’s for certain: we’re really looking forward to his future additions and if you love hand-drawn type designs, bookmark his portfolio so you won’t miss any of them!