Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Music Philosophy

First saw the work of this guy on the Urban Outfitters blog and I immediately had to find more! Designer Mico Tolendo uses music lyrics to create these great typographic posters, each usually having some sort of philosophical message! Makes you definitely think and appreciate song lyrics more when they are set out this way with their meaning emphasized. Here are some of my favourites...

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Girl Effect

A simple, striking piece of film using just typography to portray a charity named The Girl Effect. The campaign is encouraging viewers to donate money to various schemes aimed specifically at girls in third world countries to help them create a better life for them, their families and their community.

Shows that you don't always have to show shocking images to produce a thought provoking piece of work. A really nice well designed and usable website goes alongside the campaign designed by Wieden+Kennedy. See it here:


Sunday, 28 February 2010

Essay Plan

Hand Drawn Typography- Fad or the future?

I would like to explore and research into an area of typography which is a particular interest of mine, handmade typography, inspired by the book “Hand Job” by Michael Perry. I would like to look at handmade typography in a historical context, discuss it in relation to past theories and typographic movements, discuss whether is it a visually effective form of typography, and if it has any particular benefits. I would also like to see why designers are reverting back to handmade typography, look at at examples of hand drawn typographers, and see how transferrable this form of typography is to commercial graphic design and advertising.

  • Introduction. In the digital age that we are now in, most graphic design and typography is computer produced. Recently, however there has been a growth in designers reverting back to pen and paper methods, to create new, fresh and completely hand drawn typography. Whether this is just a trend, or a significant design movement for the future, I would like to investigate and explore the qualities, methods and applications of hand drawn typography.
  • History. Look at hand drawn type in the context of the history of typography. All typography begun with handwriting before moving onto letterpress. This made knowledge and information easily transferrable, made hand drawn type unnecessary. Created speed and consistency in typography, something you didn’t have before. Led to strict structure and rules in typography, Swiss style, grid etc.
  • Discuss revelations of Apple Mac in 1984, type of rules it broke. What it redefined, what it meant for typography. Legibility not necessary anymore. In some ways allowed typography to start over again and redefine itself, made more room for experimental and hand drawn typography for the future.
  • Form, Function, Neutrality. Discuss sterile type qualities of typography now digitally produced by computers. Although Apple Mac created a lot of freedom, typography has reverted back to modernist qualities in some cases, e.g Helvetica. Modernists believed that form followed function. Typefaces should not detract from copy, or be ornamental. Should be neutral, transparent. Discuss Beatrice Warde, Douglas C.McMurtrie. In this case, a lot of computer generated typefaces are very bland. They may be readable but are they interesting to look at or striking?
  • Revert back to Weingart’s quote: “What's the use of being legible when nothing inspires you to take notice of it?". Has typography become too bland, too invisible, too digitalised, too impersonal and cold? Is this why hand drawn typography is now being used? Stefan Sagmeister has been quite outspoken on this subject, famously inscribing typography into his own skin. Look at his views on the subject.
  • Qualities and Uses of Hand drawn typography. Look into other designers views on hand drawn typography. Why do they use it? What do they like about it? What are the visual qualities of it?
  • Is hand drawn typography purely ornamental or does it have commercial uses? Where has it been used in the industry and has it been successful?
  • Conclusion, What does the future hold for handmade typography. Is handmade typography just a trend or a rebellion against the Apple Mac and the digital era. Does it have any real future in the design industries?


Hand Job- A Catalog of Type, Michael Perry 2007.

Handwritten: Expressive Lettering in the Digital Age, Steven Heller 2006.

Type and Typography, Phil Baines & Andrew Haslam 2005.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

iQ Font

Have just found this interesting piece of typography back from July 2009 in an archive of Dirty Mouse. Really interesting way of creating typography, which also relates back to Monday's lecture on creating typography within a place- with driving instead of walking! Incredible planning must have gone into this, and some very skillful driving!

Here's the video of how they made it...

iQ font - When driving becomes writing / Full making of from wireless on Vimeo.


"What's the use of being legible when nothing inspires you to take notice of it?"

Wolfgang Weingart.

This blog explores the contrary side to my previous blog on neutrality. Wolfgang Weingart was one of the first pioneers of modern typography, breaking away from modernism and the Swiss grid system. He respected the good qualities within Swiss type, yet claimed it to restrict his "playful, inquisitive, experimental temperament". He writes that typography should not be "dry, tightly ordered of rigid", but should maintain "hidden structure and visual order".

However, it was the introduction of the Apple Mac in 1984 that was the catalyst for completely changing, breaking and redefining the rules of typography. Type got a lot more experimental, loose and messy, breaking away from the strict structure of the Swiss grid, and the restrictions of letterpress.

The new forms of typography being produced were brash, conceptual, ornamented and followed no rules or restrictions. David Carson destroyed all rules of legibility in his magazine Ray Gun. Similarly magazines such as Emigre and Fuse by Neville Brody all experimented with post- Apple Mac typography constructing new digital typefaces. Typography was taken to the edge of communication, and explored in ways it never had been before.

I think the introduction of the Apple Mac was undoubtably a massive benefit for the world of typography, and has effectively changed the way we communicate today. I am also in complete agreeance with Weingart's quote. I think the way in which type is designed and set, definitely has a huge impact on how we take notice of it and read it. I think for more bold, and direct messages this is even more important, possibly more than ordinary passages of text. I think it takes something within typography, whether it is an ornamental asset or if it's simply more interesting and striking for us look at, to make us take notice of the text, contrary to the everyday default "invisible" typefaces. I'm not saying that making a typeface illegible is the only way to inspire us to look at it, however I agree that legibility is not the simple, single answer to effective typography.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Love Letter Typography

Here is an interesting project I saw blogged about on It's Nice That.

A Love Letter For You is a project based in Philadelphia where 50 typographic love letters are painted on the walls facing the Market elevated train line. The murals were painted by 40 local and international artists. I really like the way the personality and tone of the love letters comes through from the choice of typography here. Each mural is quite individual and sends its own personal message. I think they definitely have quite a retro look to them as well, similar to old American billboards from the 50's and 60's. A nice creative project which would definitely brighten up the train ride to work!

Thursday, 18 February 2010


This poster, designed by Craig Ward, perfectly sums up this lecture topic. Following on from my previous blog on Modernism, we have been looking at the issue of neutrality in typography. Modernism is all about form following function. The function of typography is to be read, therefore nothing in the form of the typography should detract from this.

The typographer Beatrice Warde had very strong opinions on this subject. In her essay "The Crystal Goblet" she writes that typography needs to be transparent or invisible, with all of the focus on the message of the writing. She believed that typography should be unnoticed, and must be looked through, not at. She was strictly against frills and unnecessary detail or decoration. She wrote: "There is nothing simple or dull in achieving the transparent page. Vulgar ostentation is twice as easy as discipline." She also wrote that these are things that typographers need to respect and adhere to in their role.

Josef Muller-Brockmann thought that maths was the solution to systematic and rational typography. He believed that grid systems were the answer to ordering typography for three particular reasons:

Economical - problems can be solved in less time and for less money when using the grid.
Rational - simple and complex problems can be solved in a uniform and characteristic style.
Mental attitude - if typography is presented systematically and clearly, it exudes our social responsibility and will contribute to the cultural state of society.

He believed that good design and typography had an extremely high purpose and potentially a huge impact on society. He said "the desire to bring order to the bewildering confusion of appearances reflects a deep human need".

The most famous typeface to portray neutrality, and which is probably the most invisible in our culture is of course Helvetica. This is a typeface that we see everywhere in our day to day lives, and are likely to not even notice anymore.

I think that neutrality is important in typography in certain instances. For example, Helvetica is used a lot on signage, where I think it would be inappropriate to use anything else but a neutral, plain typeface, which does not distract. Similarly with books or certain important and information based texts, I have to agree with Beatrice Warde, in the way that the typeface in which the writing is set should not be noticed as you are reading it, and that the message must be the thing that you are focussing on.

I don't always agree with neutral or invisible typefaces however. Helvetica is used for the brand logo on several companies. I am not sure I agree that this is the most effective typeface for communicating a brand as it is so neutral and something we are so used to seeing. I don't think it could well communicate the personality and traits of a brand, or particularly differentiate it from any other one that uses Helvetica. I also think that there is a time and a place for decorative typography. Typography for me can be functional, or it can be used as an art form and I think that there are different sets of rules for both, depending on their particular purpose or function.