Is all-caps blackletter no longer taboo?

Received typographic wisdom holds that blackletter (“Old English”, “Gothic”) text only looks good in lower case or with initial capitalization — never with capital letters in series. However, in the last couple of decades, all-caps blackletter type and calligraphy have become normalized in a few cases where reading speed is unimportant. Specifically, decoration in “cholo” gangster culture and album cover artwork have adopted it, often in laid out in the shape of an arch; examples follow.

Apparently, some designers are doing what was previously forbidden. In light of the cover of the record by No Doubt (a major-label band), has all-caps blackletter gone mainstream? Did breaking the old rule lead to a new understanding?

Teen Angels magazine cover
Dark Funeral band logo
"Barragán" tattoo
No Doubt album cover


  1. You can’t use tattoo art as a reference. Tattoo art often fails to follow any rhyme or reasoning. It’s always a one-off and created with the intention of a very narrow audience, not broader viewing. (And there’s always someone at hand to immediately say: “No, it says xxxx.”)

  2. Bad design happens. There’s no “Global Design Tribunal” which determines what one must or must not do with respect to design and will punish offenders. – The “Dark Funeral” logo/symbol falls into this to me. It was probably created by one of the band members or their friend who has no formal training and just wanted something which “looks evil”. So, they thought that “looked evil”. Black metal bands are notorious for horrid type design. I think it is unwise to prescribe traditional training thoughts or guidelines to anything related to music industry or band “logos”. They are rarely created by trained designers.

  3. Sometimes it may be intentional. The No Doubt album, with it’s poor blown-out photo, and bad typography all seem very intentional to me to avoid a “slick” record industry look. Sometimes when bands which are seen as more alternative start bordering upon being seen as “selling out” they go specifically the other direction with design and stage productions to try and curb those comments.

None of this means all cap blackletter is a good choice in general – or a common choice. It’s merely a choice they made in your samples.

Source : Link , Question Author : Aaron Brick , Answer Author : Wrzlprmft

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