Typeface Design Experiments

February 11, 2010

Interview Conclusions

February 11, 2010

After my interviews with Ray and Mark I also attended a master class with Jonathan Barnbrook, I posed the same questions to him that I have previously asked typeface designers and what I extracted from this time with him is that good typeface design much like any other design practice must be thoroughly researched and have some kind of contextual referencing either to historical design or contemporary influences. One continuous theme that has been resonating throughout my research and that is the philosophy of the typeface I want to generate, Barnbrook insisted that this philosophy should resonate the time-scale of the typeface and that redesign as all part of the process to be enable oneself to continually produce designs that are desirable.

This in some way intertwines with what Simonson was stating when he told me in my interview with him.

“People are social creatures. We have a natural tendency to imitate one another”

This is also reiterated by his design of the typeface Mostra which resonates Italian Art deco styles from he early 20th century as the design is a modern interpretation of this movement. From his research into historical styles Simonson has ultimately produced a typeface with historical context that has a contemporary essence to it, highlighting Barnbrook’s statement from his masterclass;

“Re-design is part of the process to keep graphics desirable”

This poses somewhat of a problem for me as I now have another factor to consider when producing my designs, not only have I set myself the task of producing designs that are conceptual and practical at the same time, but now I also need to consider whether I need to bring in some kind of historical reference to a particular art or design ideal to ensure that I produce a design that is desirable.

Parallel  to these interviews I have also done some research into certain font foundries to identify what it is that drives them to produce certain typefaces and identify what purpose it is these designs serve. One example I would like to highlight is a typeface named Sentinel from Hoefler Frere-Jones, a typeface with historical referencing to traditional slab serif design which was designed to remedy the inconsistencies  typical of traditional slab serif styles which historically have always been quirky and eccentric to be deliberately eye catching. Hoefler Frere-Jones saw this as an area to be addressed and therefroe developed Sentinel in a variety of weights and styles including italic, something which is not often attempted in slab serif typefaces. What Hoefler Frere-Jones have done here is identify an aspect of typeface design history which could be addressed and generated a typeface to remedy the design problem that they had created. 

Although Sentinel is not so much a conceptual typeface, it was still created to solve a design problem which gives it in my mind a better belonging.

I do believe the next typeface I am about to talk about is a conceptual piece of work, the design takes inspiration from the apollo moon landings, which istantly gives it an interesting concept behind it. The final design came in various weights which maintain the astro-concept in that they where named from Four G to Zero G, a concept inspired by the speeds the space shuttles travelled at. The typeface, created by GBH was designed for Virgin Galactic to use as part of their brand identity and the lunar theme is prevelant within the design  with the concept at the forefront of every aspect of the design much alike to Oded Ezer’s who establishes a theme and brings that theme into every aspect of his design process.

Interview With Ray Larabie

January 11, 2010

As well as Mark Simonson I also sent the same email to another typeface designer named Ray Larabie who has designed such typefaces as Madawaska, Korataki and Meloriac. Here are Ray’s responses to the questions that a posed to him:

Question 1.

What steps do you take when producing a new typeface? Do you derive a concept? Or look for visual influence and inspiration?

I try to break up my pattern and avoid having a system for coming up with ideas . . . inevitably with enough frequency, a system develops. Most font ideas are born from a client’s need that can’t be fulfilled by existing typefaces. Usually they’ll have some font choices which come close but don’t quite do the job . . . so it’s my job to come up with something that will serve that function. The rest of the time, I’m trying to second-guess what designers need based on the typeface choices they’re making. If I see a designer has been modifying existing fonts it’s usually a good indicator of an open niche.
 

Question 2.

Do you believe that a typeface can remain conceptual but still have useful everyday application? Or is it simply an art form?

I wouldn’t say a typeface is even an art form. Lettering/typography can be an art form. An alphabet could be art (I guess) but the typeface itself is just a tool or a concept than can be used to make art or non-art. Conceptual fonts always sacrifice legibility which makes them a poorer choice than all the thousands of non-conceptual fonts. Conceptual fonts are “purpose built” so, really, they’re the poorest choice for everyday applications. I guess if your concept was extreme legibility then a conceptual font would have useful everyday application. If you stretch the definition of everyday applications: there are some applications where interesting, hard-to-read lettering can be an advantage. Example: a sign for a hair stylist. A conceptual font might make people slow down and take notice. But I don’t think that’s the everyday use you were referring to.
 

Question 3.

Do you believe that there is any pressure on modern graphic designers to maintain a socially recognized style by utilizing the ‘fashionable’ typefaces of today?

As anyone who wears clothing knows, you can break the rules of fashion if you know the rules of fashion; if you break the rules unknowingly you come across as someone who’s at best, unobservant, at worst, out-of-touch. In the case of fonts, the reader may doubt whether or not the design is out of step with fashion. For example: if a designer is using Modula in a way that’s cheeky 1989 cultural artifact, it’s not the same as if a designer uses it because they actually think it looks cool and futuristic for 2010. I think if there’s any pressure it comes from the natural fashion cycle. Fonts, though frequent use, become associated with a particular idea or time period. The idea becomes old fashioned and new or recycled ideas come forward. I think some designers see that as conformity but it’s not as is there’s a big council of font fashion experts who sit in a boardroom decide what’s cool or not. Fonts are fashionable when the environment says they are. Some typefaces lead the way but they only succeed because the timing is right.
 

Question 4.

Can you see a place in the magazine / book market place for publication based on conceptual typography?

I certainly think you can showcase successful conceptual typography in a coffee table art book. I don’t see it as a big money maker though. It’s hard for me to answer this because I don’t pay attention to those types of books.
 

Question 5.

What advice can you give me on typeface design? Are there any specific rules I should adhere to? Or should I just let my creativity run riot?

Rather than explain what you should do, I’ll explain what you shouldn’t do: Don’t design a full alphabet in Illustrator or on paper. You need to test letters in words as you design them. How letters look next to one another in the context of words helps you make design decisions. It doesn’t mean you can’t explore possibilities on paper but you need to be willing to make compromises based on the way neighboring letters behave. If you have a great idea for a letter R, you may have to redesign it because it doesn’t get along nicely with neighboring letters . . . or maybe you’ll decide to make the other letters work with your R. That’s the kind of decisions you have to make while the alphabet is designed; not at the beginning or the end of the design process. You’re probably heard it before but: trust your eyes. Measuring can help but don’t rely on it too much.
 

Question 6.

Where do you see yourself in the typeface fashion industry? Are a T-shirt and jeans guy or bespoke tailor?

I’m a t-shirt and jeans guy. Nothing I do is exclusive, nothing I do is classic. None of my fonts are as expensive as a suit.
All the best,
Ray
Ray’s responses here are quite dissimilar to Mark’s answers which is quite interesting to see. The main aspect I have taken from Ray’s answers is mainly on how to go about creating a good typeface, the idea of creating a typeface by putting random letters together rather than creating a straight forward alphabet makes perfect sense as rarely in everyday print do alphabetic neighbours appear together. Ray also states that he doesn’t have a particular formula that he follows when creating new typefaces which on the other hand is quite similar to what Mark was saying, from this I have established that it would perhaps be best to identify my own method of generating ideas for a typeface.

Interview with mark Simonson.

January 8, 2010

To help me try and establish a better understanding of the typeface industry and whether what I am investigating has a role in this area of graphic design I went about interviewing a handful of practitioners including typeface designers and graphic designers. The first of which to respond was Mark Simonson, A typeface designer from Minnesota. Mark opened up his own font shop in the year 2000, but has been involved in typeface design and lettering since 1992. Mark also has strong links with the online font shop My Fonts which is how I first came to find out about him as a typeface designer. This is the following e-mail that I sent to Mark and other practitioners in order to get a better understanding of a typeface designer’s opinion on conceptual typography and where this subject may sit within today’s typeface industry.

Hi Mark,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly,

as I mentioned in my previous email I am planning to produce a conceptual, typeface based keepsake. Similarly to FUSE magazine I have derived a theme for my publication, which is based on the topic of ‘Broken Britain’. After brainstorming I identified a number of sub categories such as football hooliganism, knife crime, drug abuse etc etc which are all aspects of modern British society that have the full focus of the media at this present time. From these sub categories I chose to pursue the theme of football hooliganism, which is a phenomenon demonized by the British media via The Deviant Amplification Spiral, a term first coined by Stanley Cohen in 1972 in his book ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics: Creation of Mods and Rockers’.

Through my research into this phenomenon I have established certain social aspects of football hooliganism and The Deviant Amplification Spiral itself which can be transcribed or regenerated into elements of a typeface. For example, part of the nature of The Deviant Amplification Spiral is that the media is the catalyst, taking an isolated event such as trouble between football fans at a single match and blowing it out of proportion, thus creating a moral panic within society that there is now a nation wide football hooligan epidemic.

Through initial sketches I took this idea of elaboration, blowing out of proportion and distortion to create a serif typeface where certain aspects of the letters such as ascenders, ears and serifs would be over enlarged and disproportionate to the rest of the character. Therefore developing a typeface with a conceptual idea behind it.

My only problem now is identifying where such a typeface would sit within contemporary graphic design, as far as I can establish the typeface industry is much alike to the fashion industry in regards to clothing, the correlation is uncanny in that some companies will produce a bespoke typeface to suit a client who is willing to spend a lot of money on branding, this is the tailored savile row, three piece suite. Other companies such as online font shops will generate emails and newsletters promoting the newest and freshest typefaces money can buy.

These are the seasonal t-shirt and jean combinations which are constantly evolving and fluctuating. Then there are the conceptual typeface designers, such as Oded Ezer and to some extent Johnathon Barnbrook. They produce the one off catwalk pieces that serve no practical purpose other than to challenge the art and design world.

I hope I have explained clearly enough to you what it is I am trying accomplish! so here are my questions to you which will help me determine what place there is in contemporary graphic design for conceptual typeface design.

 Question 1.

What steps do you take when producing a new typeface? Do you derive a concept? Or look for visual influence and inspiration?

Question 2.

Do you believe that a typeface can remain conceptual but still have useful everyday application? Or is it simply an art form?

Question 3.

Do you believe that there is any pressure on modern graphic designers to maintain a socially recognized style by utilizing the ‘fashionable’ typefaces of today?

Question 4.

Can you see a place in the magazine / book market place for publication based on conceptual typography?

Question 5.

What advice can you give me on typeface design? Are there any specific rules I should adhere to? Or should I just let my creativity run riot?

Question 6.

Where do you see yourself in the typeface fashion industry? Are a T-shirt and jeans guy or bespoke tailor? These are all of my questions for now!

Thankyou very much for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind Regrards

Tony

As of yet Mark is the only practitioner to have replied to my e-mail, these are the answers he responded with: Hi Tony, Here are his answers:

> Question 1. > >

What steps do you take when producing a new typeface? Do you derive a concept? Or look for visual influence and inspiration?

It depends on the typeface. In some cases, I look to past letterforms for inspiration. For example, Mostra was based on Italian Art Deco lettering from the 1920s and 1930s. There didn’t seem to be any existing typefaces that captured the essence of that, and I thought it would make an interesting and useful type family.

In other cases, I try to come up with a hybrid based on established typefaces or styles. Proxima Nova would be an example of this. It combines elements of grotesk and geometric sans serif styles. Coquette is another example of this approach, but with geometric sans and upright script. Overall, I find this to be the most interesting type design strategy.

I do occasionally have purely conceptual ideas for typefaces, not based on any past typeface or lettering style. That’s what led to my earliest success–Felt Tip Roman. I simply wondered what would happen if I turned my handwriting into a font. At the time (1989) this was a novel idea. I did not consider it to be a “serious” typeface design–it was not planned out or “designed” at all. I intentionally avoided correcting inconsistencies and mistakes, although I did the tracing by hand (not auto-traced). The result surprised me. It had this weird tension between mechanical and handmade. I was even more surprised when it became a commercial success.

> Question 2. > >

Do you believe that a typeface can remain conceptual but still have useful everyday application? Or is it simply an art form?

I do think that as you move toward purely concept-based typeface design it does become more like art, but I don’t think it precludes usefulness. It depends a lot on what the concept is. Futura is a good example of a concept typeface that became very useful and popular.

I think this is partly because its forms had their roots in classical roman letters. Conceptual typefaces are more common now simply because it takes dramatically less work to create a font today. Historically, the amount of time and effort it took to make a font effectively put a prohibition on all but the most conservative approach to typeface design, at least for anything actually produced as a font. I find most purely conceptual typefaces to be rather academic. It’s not that I don’t find them interesting, but I am more interested in the practical end of typeface design.

The more a typeface becomes the content rather than a carrier of content, the more it becomes art. “Normal” typefaces are not meant to be looked at for their own sake (although they often are by people who study type). They are meant to be more or less invisible.

> Question 3. > >

Do you believe that there is any pressure on modern graphic designers to maintain a socially recognized style by utilizing the ‘fashionable’ typefaces of today?

Of course. People are social creatures. We have a natural tendency to imitate one another. At the same time, we find novelty stimulating. This creates a kind of feedback loop which results in fashion. All this is tied up with the need to be accepted by others, and that’s what that pressure is. It’s been around forever.

> Question 4. > >

Can you see a place in the magazine / book market place for publication based on conceptual typography?

Yes, I think some graphic designers would be interested in it. It might be more appealing to people who are into art.

> Question 5. > >

What advice can you give me on typeface design? Are there any specific rules I should adhere to? Or should I just let my creativity run riot?

One thing I’ve learned is that the concept is the easy part. I have more ideas for typefaces than I could possibly complete in my lifetime, but it can take a long time to complete one. Hence, before I commit to going ahead with a typeface concept, I consider whether it is worth doing relative to other ideas I have. I am most interested in making typefaces that will appeal to or be useful to other people. You can do whatever you like, but I think you need to be clear about what you hope to do with it and let that guide you.

> Question 6. > >

Where do you see yourself in the typeface fashion industry? Are a T-shirt and jeans guy or bespoke tailor?

I try not to follow the fashions too closely. I keep an eye on it, but I try to do what excites me; make typefaces that I would want to use myself if they existed. When I am lucky, there are others who share my taste and want to use them, too. Trying to do what you think other people will like is a sure way to be mediocre and unhappy with what you do.

Mark

I have found this feedback from Mark incredibly useful as it has given me a better perspective on what on am trying to achieve and where it could possibly sit within the graphic design field. From Mark’s questions I have derived that conceptual based typeface design is generally only going to appeal to graphic designers interested in the art based side of graphic design, however he does also mention that people find novelty stimulating, to me this suggests that typefaces can be compared to the fashion or car industries.

Every year clothing companies will have fashion shows which showcase designs which aren’t particularly practical, but display design ideas and characteristics which can then be extracted and utilised in high street designs within the up and coming season.

Car companies undergo a similar experimental phase in the form of concept cars which are exhibited at annual motor shows, designers attending these motor shows will then identify a particular trend within the concept cars and what the public see are finalised cars with practical use that exhibit influence from the concept cars.

(BMW Concept Car 2007)

(BMW Commercial 7 Series 2009)

Underground music genres follow a similar pattern in that initial ideas for tracks will be pressed on limited vinyl known as dubplates which are then circulated around the industry and based on feedback on what the industry approves of is then formatted and finalised into the final track, which may be completely different from the initial experimental track but still maintains the essence which was first generated from the experimental stages of the tracks production.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqq_BdAgHic

(Hypercaine DJ Fresh Breakbeat Kaos 2008 Dubplate)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JaLH1RPXfU

(Hypercaine DJ Fresh Breakbeat Kaos 2009 Radio Edit)

The other main aspect from these questions I found particularly useful where Mark’s opinions on why and how a typeface should be developed, Mark highlights that typeface design is often about solving a problem or recognising an aspect of design where a new typeface can address design issues. For example, his typeface Mostra was based on 1920’s Italian letterforms, a style which had yet to be utilised within the design industry, thus filling a previously unrecognised gap.

Preview Image

(Mostra One regular, Mark Simonson 2009)

VINTAGE ITALIAN ART DECO PASTA CHEF POSTER 28

(Buitoni 1928)

This also highlights another point that Mark makes regarding typeface legibility, he states that the most useful typefaces have some kind of historical reference which goes back to a statement that I read in Émigré which highlights that practical legible typeface design is an area that has been conquered and can’t really be improved upon.

This in some way goes into solving my problem of generating a conceptual typeface that retains legibility, providing I reference some basic historical design principles when creating a new typeface I should be able to maintain legibility and concept. Having said this I could simply focus purely upon concept and go down the fashion / car show route and create a publication which is based upon creative and experimental work from which myself and the rest of the typeface industry can recognise particular trends and styles to work into more practical typeface designs for the future.

Football Hooligans Knowing the score Chapter One

January 5, 2010

As part of my research for my concept  of broken britain regarding football hooliganism, I have started reading a book which investigates the nature of football hooliganism. The opening chapter attempts to begin to unravel some of the catalysts and possible triggers for acts of football hooliganism and also explores the notion of football hooliganism being more than just a sporadic event which results in skirmishes between rival fans. Much of what I read within this chapter directed acts of football hooliganism more towards working class men who would congregate in dedicated groups often attaching themselves to their respective football clubs nickname. For example, the first chapter focuses solely on hooligans from Sheffield, home to Sheffield United (The Blades) and Sheffield Wednesday (The Owls). These groups of working class men or ‘firms’ seem to generate a sense of alliance between like minded fans similarly to an organized gang or even guerilla army. The author even highlights a correlation between research into Chicago based gangs from the 1960’s and football hooligan firms in the modern era on a social level (Gary Armstrong, 1998). This already gives me an aspect I can develop into a design basis, by looking at what it means to belong to something or be part of a group with emotion, pride and intent and recreating that visually. If a typeface was to empower someone and generate this notion of belonging and identity what would it look like? It would have to be proud, perhaps generate a sense of exclusivity so maybe an elegant style would be more appropriate? Perhaps a serif typeface with strong strokes and serifs which covers both of these. This not only generates a typeface with a concept behind it that is relevant to my research idea, but also has application to it making it a viable typeface for broad design application, thus being a conceptual typeface with legibility and cause.

Broken Britain – Football Hooliganism & The Deviant Amplification Spiral

December 6, 2009

I have chosen Broken Britain as the topic for for my design ideas as I believe it is a relevant subject today in terms of social and political agenda. I also recognise that it would be better suited to establish some concepts from this subject rather than my Exiled theme. The aspect I wanted to focus mainly upon within my Exiled theme was the coming together of two significant cultures (Europe and the USA) which prompted the marriage between mass product production and packaging design as well as modern advertisng through the utilsation of European Modernism. However, if I had chosen to pursue this theme, then I believe all would be doing is simply looking at artists and practioners from that era of time and recreating their personal art and design styles to develop my typeface creations.

So getting back to Broken Britain. My brainstorm for this theme brought up some ideas regarding football hooliganism, which I have personally noticed has increased in media attention. For example, there where the riots in Manchester involving Rangers fans who tore apart the city after a large tv screen broke down.

http://img.thesun.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00488/riotmain_488741a.jpg

Following that, West Ham United and Millwall fans clashed at an FA cup tie at Upton Park prompting fear generated by the media that football hooliganism was begining to revive itself from days believed to have passed.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_StHjbEwVfOE/SpdKK3EcTwI/AAAAAAAAAs4/v49FDt4MihI/s400/Bloodied+Fan.jpg

Both of these isolated incidents have occured in the last 6 to 12 months each gaining huge coverage by the media. This got me into thinking about why football hooligansim appears to be on the rise again after so many decades of reletive decline with european countries tending to have more of a focus for football hooliganism. One main factor for this could possibly be the recession, in general football hooligans are perceived to be working class men and with the country toiling in recession, many laid off workers could be looking for an outlet for their frustration or are searching for a sense of meaning to their life by joing up to football hooligan outfits or ‘firms’. This in itself throws up some ideas regarding how I can create some styles which represent these aspects of football hooliganism. In general I want my typeface designs to sustain legeibility but still remain conceptual, one idea could be to produce a legible simple typeface, but look at how I can use kerning to recreate this sense of ‘belonging’ that football hooligans ascetain from being part of a firm.

Looking at football hooligan firms themselves could throw up some design ideas, many have their own names and colours synonymous to their respective football clubs, although not specifically a legible typeface I could investigate these firms further and create a serious of dingbats or pictograms to represent certain firms.

It’s not just club fans which are perceived as the only problem within football hooliganism, fans from national teams are deemed to clash on an almost yearly basis at large football tournaments such as the european or world cups, having looked at some of the headlines and images from these clashes there is one aspect that has stood out for me… plastic chairs!

“plastic chairs start flying and running battles with rival supporters and the police take place.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/today/article/0,,334024,00.html

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/img/galleries/stuttgart/riotpoliceR_350x350.jpg

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01116/england-hooligans_1116532c.jpg

http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/115000/images/_117405_england_fan_wielding_chair_during_trouble_in_marseille_300_(14-06-98)_ap.jpg

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/img/galleries/stuttgart/chairsPA_350x250.jpg

“In Charleroi, drunk teenagers threw plastic chairs and were cooled off using water cannon,”

http://anarchistsoccer.org/node/57

This is a quick experiment I carried out to represent football hooliganism through broken peieces of plastic chair which make up the letter forms. I like the idea of using the shapes from the chair to make up the letter forms, but I feel this idea is a little bit too experimental and doesn’t bear enough of a concept.

Going back to media involvement however, I have found one website particularly useful in regards to defining how the media has fueled public and political reaction to isolated incidents of trouble.

“Central to the understanding of the media’s role in our understanding of Hooliganism is what Stuart Hall calls the ‘amplification spiral’ of sensationalist media reporting feeding a desire for more stories that can lead to a widespread and unnecessary ‘moral panic’ suggesting the problem was actually worse than in reality it was.”

http://www.liv.ac.uk/footballindustry/hooligan.html

I believe this term the deviant amplification spiral can be applied to almost every aspect on my broken britain brainstorm and embodies many ideas and key words that could be interprated into visual language, here are some words that I came up with as possible design catalysts, some of which produced some experimental ideas.

  • Exaggerated
  • Inflated
  • Over reaction
  • Disproportinate
  • Emphasized
  • Hype
  • Desireable
  • Copy cat
  • Mimic

The main aspects that stood out for me from these words where exaggeration and inflated, which led me to produce a prelimenary typeface which utilese over sized serifs to hint at this idea of disproportion.

Can Conceptual Typography Remain Legible?

November 24, 2009

Ok so I haven’t made a post in quite a while, but I have come quite a long way with my projet proposal and learning agreement, here’s a re-cap on my journy so far…

The main catalyst for my project proposal has been online type foundries and the way they market typefaces, which portrays them as a fashion statement or must have accessorie. This got me into thinking about the correllation between fashion and typography and how I could represent this visually. This was the basis for my initial project proposal when I first applied for the MA in graphic design.

This then evolved into a new way of thinking into legibility, the majority of typrfaces affiliated with the foundries I was looking at didn’t have an apparent agenda regarding legibility, where as some designers I had looked at such as font smith had addressed the issue of legibility within the typefaces they designed. To me this seemed like a more worthwhile practice regarding typeface design, producing letterforms which where practical and tackled issues regarding legibilty, which wasn’t apparent in other modern typeface design.

From this i began talking to my tutor and researched into emigre magazine. From this research and discussion I came to the conclusion that legibility within typeface design was perhaps not so much of an issue in today’s world (people read best what they read more etc) as when it comes to creative design the choice of typeface comes down to the issue of whether it suits the mood of what the designer is trying to provoke from their audience. This then brings up the issue of the application of type, it is generally believed by most designers that typefaces with an apparent mood or distinctive style will be used as title text or background text to emphasize a particular style. Everything else with in the design is likely to be copy text, which would incorporate the services of a recognised copy text typface such as times new roman or sabon. Much of what I read in Emigre directed towards a way of thinking that legible copy text was something that had already been conqured and that it wasn’t so much the choice of font, but how well it was executed regarding basic typography skills such as the use of kerning and leading.

This mentatlity that copy text has been conqured opens up the focus on heading text, can that too be conqured?

During the nineties and the advent of computer aided design prompted a boom in conceptual typography with journals such as emigre and fuse as well as designers such as neville brody and johnathen barnbrook making a name for themselves. Much of the work they where producing was based around an idea or theme and produced some fantastic work with interesting concepts but often at the cost of legibility. This was not always an issue however as the concept would always prevail within the design and it’s application could strengthen the look and mood of a piece of design work. To reinforce this ethic Fuse magazine in particular would always produce a magazine for each typeface to exhibit the concept and style of the typeface.

I want to extract elements from all of the subjects I have identified so far and with that produce a magazine which is targeted at modern graphic designers. The magazine will be based around conceptual typography, similarly to the fuse and emigre magazines of the nineties, however I want to design the magazine in a similar style to modern graphic design magazines such as computer arts to give them a contemporary look and in some way to feed off this mentatlity of  ‘fashionable’ graphic design falling short of actually utilising or promoting this heard mentality of recreating the same styles over and over again.

Similarly to Fuse and Emigre I would also like to develop a monthly theme for each magazine, for example fuse had themes such as runes or science and generated typefaces based on those concepts. Therefore I have been thinking about a theme that I would like to begin with.

The Two themes that have interested me so far have been ‘broken britain’ and ‘exiled’.

For broken britain I completed a brain storm which threw up some of the aspects of britain which have been the focus of the media in recent months such as knife crime, recession, drug abuse, teen pregnancies, STD’s and also football hooliganism which has had bit of a revival over the past 6 months with rangers fans rioting in manchester and west ham / millwall fans clashing in london and invading the football pitch. I chose to investigate football hooliganism a little further and discovered some interesting government statistics about arrests per stadia and which clubs had the worst reputations. I really like this idea of organised crime and hierachy as well as the culture that surronds hooliganism and how this could be interperatated into perhaps a magazine which uses gorrilla tactics to sell itself. I also read about a firm which named themselves the plastic chair brigade highlighting the plastic chairs usage as a weapon by football hooligans. Using this symbol of rioting I took an image of a plastic chair and broke it up in photoshop to make up letters. I like the concept of this design, but it has very limited application and legibility issues which is something I want to introduce to conceptual typography and raise my initial question, can conceptual typography remain legible?

My second topic of research was ‘exiled’ which refers to the avant garde and bauhaus designers of europe who where exiled to america during world war two in a bid to escape the nazi regime. The main reason this was brought to my attention was previous research into a czech graphic designer named ladislav sutnar who was basically the god father of information designa and installed many of the rules we use as graphic designers today regarding continuity and flow of information. Alongside him there was an influx of european practioners into america such as el lisitzky, maholy nagy, gropius and tschichold. They in turn brought with them a plethora of art movements including european modernism, russian constructivism and the new typography. america was moving into an era of the machine age and mass production opened up an new outlet for creative indiviuals in the form of advertising and consumerism. I want to look back at some of these art movements and research into how they where utilised and absorbed into a new consumer driven world.

So there you have it, an outline of what I want to produce and why I want to produce it. i have also investigated two themes in which to get my idea moving and help me produce some design ideas and concepts.

Tutorial Feedback 2

November 24, 2009

For my second tutorial I was asked to create a mood board to help me recognise my target audience and visualize what it is I actually want to produce. The images where generally of journals from the 90’s based around conceptual typography such as fuse and emigre, as well as modern design magazines such as computer arts and design week.

Ideally i would like to marry together the two main aspects of these designs. I want my magazine to be based around conceptual typography so this needs to be apparant in each edition, perhaps by devising a theme for each edition. I want to market my magazine however in the same way modern design magazines are and to give them a similar look to make them appeal to modern graphic designers.

Since my last tutorial I have also been looking a lot into Emigre journals, one that particulalry stood out for me was the ‘Rant’ edition which highlighted the issue of a vast majority of designers absorbing popular trends and styles of the moment and just reproducing them, this is something that I believe is being promoted and encouraged by modern design magazines such as computer arts which include monthly tutorials on how to recreate the styles and techniques of existing designers, which I belive must be having a negative effect on the ammount of individual work that is being produced.

I want to identfy whether this is happening in the typeface market as well. Many of the current font foundries I have identified so far appear to be marketing new typfaces in a way that deems them to be popular, trendy and the latest style. Is this causing designers to download these fonts and create their designs based around them? Rather than developing a style and concept and then identifying a font to match the design?

Tutorial Feedback

November 24, 2009

Despite turning up almost an hour late for my tutorial on Monday I actually got some really good feedback from Andy on my project proposal and I identified that the first thing I needed to do was to realize my target audience. We had a quick discussion on how typography is used today and part of what we talked about was the fact that especially with the current economic crisis, many companies or small business are designing and producing their own letter heads or business cards with a limited design knowledge. Therefore, my target audience could be people who aren’t actually design trained.

Lecture With Entente

November 24, 2009

I found this lecture very helpful and inspiring, to see 2 guys the same age as me successfully setting up and maintaining their own design company and font foundry. Some of their concepts and ideas, as well as ideas and designs i’ve seen in a few Emigre and Fuse journals have changed my motivation slightly and re-ignited my interest in concept typography, which was something I based my final major project on in the final year of my BA. I still want to investigate the impact font foundries are having on designers by fueling this consumerism and fashion based business and does it affect what typeface designers can do in order to survive? I want to find out if typeface designers are truly free to design typefaces with the essence they had in mind, or are they designing typefaces that they know the font foundries will be interested in marketing.

Returning to the guys from The Entente I want to talk about a typeface they produced as part of a design campaign for an artist. The font was designed in 3 different variations all with inspiration from times and caslon, each variation intended for a different aspect of the artists business. However, when the artist began to produce new styles and different collections, the fontesque typeface was adapted so that it evolved with the artists changing style.

I think this is a fascinating concept and got me thinking into perhaps creating an ‘easy edit font’. What I mean by this is creating a typeface in illustrator with the bezier curves plotted in such away that when the font is created and then expanded again into illustrator the designer can pull the bezier curves to customize the typeface in a style which is unique to them. This i realize though, is not particularly practical, as once the letters are expanded within illustrator to retrieve the bezier curves, all typographic information is lost, such as kerning and leading. I could however look at producing this font as a vector package, it would therefore be more suited for title application rather than display text. Any graphic designer using this vector package could then customize the font each time they come to use without having to purchase a different typeface for each piece of work they produce. The advantage of producing letters as vector packages could also be that certain elements of a letter could be created in separate sections such as ears or serifs which are drawn individually, this way they could be manipulated without affecting the rest of the letter form, or simply deleted all together to turn a serif letter instantly into a sans serif letter.