Tip 7: Some valentines need a touch of magic.
The morning commute has me wishing I were a pitch-perfect singing bus driver. I would be the one operator bold enough to wail Screamin' Jay Hawkins's "I Put a Spell on You" at the teenage fare jumpers streaming in through the back doors. Instead I'm just a scold with an attitude. To show this crowd how much I appreciate their riding for free on February 14th, I'm handing out valentine flyers with Hawkins's lyrics so they can sing along during our morning crush. Gypsy Curse, part of the Sinister Visions Font Quartet by horror mogul Chad Savage, will definitely capture my mood, especially in red. Savage's creation has the perfect hoodoo-like-you-do vibe, and it comes with a lowercase that's bold enough to let my fellow riders know how much I'd love to see them "stop the things they do."
Tip 8: A valentine may require a big statement.
For a long time I've had a secret crush on the San Francisco Department of Public Works--the folks who make the byways more inviting than the highways. SFDPW is so hip, I follow them on Twitter! This year my love dares to speak its name with an 8-foot-high valentine poster made with Capture it, Koczman Bálint's stencil font. The guys and gals in reflective vests are sure to identify with the spray-down cred working through Bálint's characters. Two decisions remain: Should we set SFDPW COMPLETES US in Capture It negative (which prints as if cut out of a stencil sheet) or positive (the letter alone) and should we specify safety-cone orange or roadwork-sign yellow for the background?
Tip 9: A valentine can make for a better connection.
Now that I've found a slew of custom embroidery houses on the Web, I wish my Cable Guy were a Cable Gal. If my provider had a Cable Gal scaling poles, running wire, and never breaking a circuit, I could order up an electrifying valentine with the words "Cable Goddess" styled in High Voltage and embroidered on a hot-pink ball cap. Typographer Tobias Sommer's FontStruction wires classic black letter to calligraphic script for characters that sizzle when outlined in metallic thread. Surely, my idealized Cable Person would like the ziggy embellishments--and the fact the sun wasn't in her eyes--almost as much as I liked finally getting to design a ball cap. She wouldn't even mind being called Shirley.
Tip 10: A valentine can be edible (and we're not talking about conversation hearts).
My little niece looks to me for clever design solutions. Who am I to disappoint a favorite client? I'll be applying the kyuuto! factor to Little Miss Sunshine's classroom valentines using Sniglet the ultra-buoyant font by designer Haley Fiege. After discovering that edible frosting sheets can roll out of a home printer, I know that this assignment will be a breeze. As quickly as I can set "I dough so luv U!" my littlest client will have perfect embellished decorations for the two dozen shortbread hearts she cajoled her mother into baking. My niece is working my inkjet overtime, but with Sniglet I've got this deliverable covered.
Tip 11: A valentine can be temporary.
What can one do for a friendly barista who is fond of stylized koi tattoos but squeamish about needles? This kind of valentine is made to be brewed using Daniel Gauthier's Tattoo Lettering font. Looking to font folklore, Gauthier has drawn and digitalized two sets of characters that match classic parlor lettering. With a little Photoshop shading, Tattoo Lettering Open is the perfect foil for the free koi tattoo clip art I found on the Web, along with a painless tattoo article netted from PCWorld Business Center. Her morning patrons will be all a'Twitter when I hand over a big valentine tip and a letter-size sheet of Water Slide Temporary Tattoo Paper filled with fishy flash made just for her.
Tip 12: A valentine is all about hope.
The most important valentine of all is the one that lands closest to home. To handle that crucial task, I turn to Riddle, Mario Arturo's '50s-inspired brush script font. Riddle serves up romance with a Rat Pack twist--long-stemmed yet delicately curled. Though some prospective users may find Riddle's lowercase-only letter set limiting, I think it will establish the perfect tone when I light the candles, pour the Manhattans, and present a customized sheet-music valentine for the Rodgers and Hart song "Spring Is Here." Sinatra sang this ballad in full melancholy mode, but I'll counter that by making hopeful puppy dogs eyes as my Significant Other belts out the lyrics in his best karaoke tenor.
Ah, love in the digital age! No matter who's on your list, twelve free fonts can make for twelve heartfelt moments. Beat back the February 14 blues. All it takes is a quick download and the courage to say "I adore you" with style.