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In this essay I am going to draw some links between contextual thinking about experimental typography and making it in practice. When we think of something that is experimental, we think of something that has being pushed and played with until it defies conventions and breaks boundaries. Through doing this you create something that is completely unique like Ebon Heaths Stereo.type typographic mobiles also in some of the fonts that Jonathan Barnbrook creates. There is this idea that when something is experimental it is completely stand-alone and inhabits this world of its own, as it cannot be used for anything functional such as road signage at the risk of changing the meaning of that environment.

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Teal Triggs looks into the idea of experimental type in her book “ The typographic experiment: Radical innovation in contemporary type design” she says the book “…as it’s starting point a definition of experimentation as a valid means of rational investigation” (Triggs Teal. 2003). She suggests that the experimentation is a research process. The implication of this being that it then becomes all about the process and less about the finished piece. However I think that the process is one of the most interesting things about experimental typography, as with experimental type you can really see the process that has gone into it, something that sets it apart from conventional type design. An example of this is the work of Fumio Tachibana featured in Triggs’ book. His poster for the Tokyo Directors club is beautifully constructed from found materials and is highly expressive. You really get a sense of the thought and process that went into it by just looking at it.

The extract from a museum poster he created also shows the process that goes into his work as he creates a new type language from fragments of found text. I think that the process is evident in the experimental lettering that I created for my A to Z. It is clearly hand drawn but has then been put through digitally to be contained within the A to Z, and hopefully you can still see that process that went into it and that makes it interesting to look at. Another side to experimental typography is experimentation with lettering. James Montalbano is quoted in “Playful type: ephemeral lettering an illustrative fonts” as saying “Lettering is in many ways, the opposite of type design…Lettering is created for the most narrow of applications” (Klanten Robert and Hellige Hendrick eds .2008) This underlines the idea that by creating something experimental you are creating it for a specific purpose, it then exists solely for the circumstances for which I was created. “…be it a logo or a book jacket, is custom tailored to work in that environment alone.” (Klanten Robert and Hellige Hendrick eds .2008).) Some of the work in “Playful shows this idea such as 44 Flavours work for The tape vs Rom “Public transport album” The type on the album cover is so expressive that some of it is a little illegible until you really look at it, but it works in the environment of an album cover. As Steve Heller and Mirko Ilic say in their book “Handwritten: Expressive lettering in the digital age” “…Typesetting is mechanical, hand lettering is expressive” (Heller Steven, Ilic Mirko. 2004) the expressiveness of it makes it almost read like an image.

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The type would definitely not function for something such as signage. My vernacular type that I have created for my A to Z for example was specifically designed to function in that environment alone and reflect the content it stands for. So it would not work for any other purpose outside of the project. As if you did you would alter the meaning of the environment you placed it in.

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A lot of the work in “Playful…” I think is quite experimental, although it is classed as lettering. The way that it has been executed is with result that defies the normal conventions of type. An example of this sort of experimentation can be seen in the work Oliver Hydes created for the Observer, of the signs of the zodiac and a portrait of the band Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The type is experimented with and used in such a way that the words that describe the object e.g. Virgo make up the image. The way in which he does this through use of colour and tone, using dark colours within the text to give the image definition; also he uses the negative space around and within the lettering to build-up areas of block colour. Altogether I think it is a very experimental way of using a technique, which would have traditionally been used to create signs. Another example of the use of lettering in an experimental way feature in “Playful…” is the personal work of Dynamo. Their poster appears to use continuous line in order to form the type. In a way which is reminiscent of an etch a sketch. Like the work of Fumio Tachibana the process that has gone into this work is evident and is one of the things that I think makes it so interesting, as Uleshka says in the introduction to playful “How refreshing it is then, to make the process as obvious as possible and reconnect with the audience” (Klanten Robert and Hellige Hendrick eds .2008)

Another example of how the process shows in experimental typography is in the work of contemporary designer Ebon Heath. Mainly his work with his design studio Stereo.type, their collection of typographic mobiles are an amazing example of the process that goes into largescale pieces of experimental type. Originally cut by hand the pieces where made from paper but as Heath says in an interview with WUW magazine “as the scale and demand has grown the use of lasers is more efficient…”(Heath to Jones.2009) this process of cutting shows in the delicate forms of the letters. The structures themselves are impressive each is delicately made up to letterforms Heath in his interview with Apostolos Mitsios for Yatzer says “The structures are a physical representation of our language as an object” (Heath to Mitsios.2009) They have the flow and movement of a conversation and depending on the spacing surrounding the text you get a sense of speed at which the language is going. Part of the experimentation with Heaths Stereo.type work is how viewer reacts with the piece as by placing it into a real space you introduce time into the reading of it. The viewer then interacts with the mobile to read its looping strands of language. There’s always time but by placing the piece in real space you place emphasis on it. Heath says in his interview with Yatzer “By liberating type form the confines of the page we not only free the words to express the content…but also force the reader to become a viewer” (Heath to Mitsios.2009) By placing it into this space Heath forces us not just to read the text but to view it “We use type daily yet rarely appreciate the form of a letter” (Heath to Mitsios.2009)

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Another example of introducing time into the experimental type is Timothy Donaldson’s ‘Big Writing’ the ‘performance’ created using house hold paint brushes bolted together on a long pole to form a giant brush. Similarly to Heaths type mobiles time is introduced into the reading off it, especially due to the large scale it is created on, and by the fact it is always created in a large public space. It really asks the viewer to consider the letterform, Donaldson says in his book shapes for sounds “Letters are individual drawings, each with their own character” (Donaldson Timothy.2008) His ‘Big writing’ are definitely almost like drawings, with this painting like strokes and the angular style created by the brush they remind me of Japanese style characters or calligraphy, which are characters in their own right. The expressiveness of the ‘Big writing’ gives it its own character like a drawing; each letter although created in the same way has it own unique shape.

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Overall I think there are many different sides to experimental typography there is the experimentation using a traditional technique like lettering and challenging how it is perceived and used in the world. Such as the work of Oliver Hydes and 44 flavours featured in “Playful” which pushes the conventions of what we think of lettering to where in the case of Hydes work it reads as an image. Then there are the large scale pieces like the work of Ebon Heath and Timothy Donaldson, which introduce time into the experiment and challenge the viewer to really look at the letters form. However no matter how you chose to experiment with type it will always be interesting as there is always a new way to push the boundaries of conventional type design and lettering and I have tried to reflect this experimentation in the type I have created for this A to Z.

bibliography Donaldson,T (2008) Appendix No 32/ Typography is a grid. In: Donaldson,T Shapes for sounds. New York: Mark Batty Publisher. Heller S & Ilic M (2004) Slight of hand. In: Heller S & Ilic M Handwritten: Expressive lettering in a digital age.USA New york:Thames & Hudson Inc Klaten R & Hendrik H (2008) Playful: Ephemeral lettering and illustrative fonts. Berlin: Gestalten. Jones A (2009) Ebon Heath: Reclaim your imagination. WUW Magazine. Vol 1. Issue E. pp 30-36 Mitsios A (2009) Ebon Heath and his visual poetry. Yatzer [Internet] 16th May 2009. Available at < http://www.yatzer. com/1690_ebon_heath_and_his_visual_poetry> [Accessed 18 Novemeber 2009] Triggs T (2003) The typographic experiment: Radical Innovation in contemporary type design. UK London: Thanmes & Hudson Ltd.

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arranging

One of the most playful ways I think to create type is simply by arranging and experimenting with objects. This a typeface I made by arranging sunflower seeds.

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branding

Type in branding is so important as it represents so much about the brand and when used for an iconic brand it can never really be used again as it will always be associated with that brand. Here I just experimented with two iconic brands and their type.

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collage

I love collage, this is a collage alphabet I made after looking at some dada pieces on the internet for inspiration.

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I love to draw and one of my favourite things to draw lately is vernacular type! Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a way of approaching type to really suit what you are designing as it can be very specific, or itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just something fun to experiment with.

draw

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experimental

Ebon Heath’s “Stereo. type” I think really pushes the way we look at typography as it is more of a sculpture or work of art. Not what I expected from a piece of typography at all.

“What do our words look like when liberated from a two dimensional page or digital screen? Stereo.type is a creative journey to define visual language that is felt...” Ebon Heath, WUW

listeningwithmyeyes.com/stereotype.html

magazine

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found

A typeface I created from a note I found. Then traced and placed on a colour background to give the interesting negative spaces.

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“ The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice. ” Josef Müller-Brockmann

grid A grid is a necessary tool when designing especially typography. The quote from the master Josef Muller -Brockmann I think is very true. I definitely need to practice using a grid. http://www.thegridsystem.org/

Poster found at: http://www.blanka.co.uk/Design/MullerBrockmann?genre_page=2

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hierarchy

Ordering the headings, subheadings and pull quotes on a page of the evening standard into a hierarchy.

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(as) image

A piece I created in my own time developed from the original that I created in our type as image workshop.

Looking at the flow of poetry and emotion I used thread to represent this and create the type image.

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justify

Good justified text should go completely unnoticed, whereas bad justification will form rivers and lakes in the text and disrupt the eyes movement.

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KATE kerning

Experimenting with kerning can be great fun and help to create some interesting logos, it is often used for logos, like Asdaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

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language

Three words of typographic language manipulated by hand and digitally to represent each others meanings/functions.

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http://www.mikeperrystudio.com/work/typography

mike perry

I love mike perrys work,This is my collage and cut out type inspired by the colours and letterforms his piece on the bottom left,

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http://www.neitherfishnorfowl.com/

neither fish nor fowl

Jim Datz aka Neither fish nor fowl does some beautiful hand drawn type for his work.

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overture

Overtures type in “Playful type: ephemeral lettering and illustrative fonts”, really reminds me of

They both have the same beautifully detailed illustrative element.

“A” from Childrens Alphabet by Hans Weiditz, Augsburg 1521. Found at : retrokat.com/medieval/lech.htm

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pattern

I think that patterns are great fun to experiment with, image based or dabbling with type. This is one I developed using my “Bear” pattern using a typeface from “Antique alphabets” Called “Broadway Inline”.

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“Computers are to design what microwaves are to cooking”

Milton glaser

quote

A quote on design by Milton Glaser, set with the techniques I learnt in Ben’s display typography workshop

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PLAYFUL

WHAT IS TYPOGRAPHY? GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCH HANDJOB HANDWRITTEN AUBREY BEARDSLEY EBON HEATH http://www.yatzer.com/1690_ebon_heath_and_his_visual_poetry JIM DATZ http://www.neitherfishnorfowl.com/ MIKE PERRY http://www.mikeperrystudio.com/work/typography GRAFIK

research

Here I have displayed my research sources and illustrators I researched into like a wordle, they are ordered in size by importance/influence and in pink if they influenced my vct.

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slow

A slow reading stop motion I made in photoshop using text and ideas from Orlaghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s workshop.

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typeface

The finished display letters presented as a typeface. Each of the letters represents/ relates to the word it stands for.

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urban

In busy urban environments the typography has to be eye catching in order to get people to stop and engage with it. The collage is creating using type found in London as part of my summer collection.

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vintage

This is my favourite vintage or “antique” typeface from a book called “Antique alphabets”. I think the detail and work that has gone into it is just something that can’t necessarily be achieved digitally.

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wordle

Wordles are a way to create interesting typographic pieces quickly, and are good fun! This is one I made out of my A to Z blog posts from November.

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xoxo

A cross stitched “pixilated” typeface I created inspired by mobile phone texting.

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you can read me

A type experiment with a quote by Paul Rand. Inspired by the font “You can read me” by Phil Baines. Can you read the quote?

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zapf dingbats “anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagi✍ nation” oscar wilde a a i i q q y y

b c d e f bcd e f j k l mn j k l mn r s t u v r stu v z “ z “

g g o o w w

h h p p x x

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development

Developing my concept/ theme, At first I was thinking of general graphic design terms then as I went through the workshops I realised that most of the workshops I was attending where typography based.

So I started to develop an alphabet that was themed around typography.

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development

Development of the vernacular type workshop, using my summer collection to create the sketches, then using illustrator to develop them further and create my melty face. Which features as my â&#x20AC;&#x153;Dâ&#x20AC;?.

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development

I developed my bear pattern from Darrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s workshop into three different styles of my original sketch, without even realising it I was sticking to a specific colour palette like in Orlaghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s workshop. To develop it further for my pdf I just added in type.

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development

Sketching out some ideas for the pdf, originally I was going to do the left hand pages all different colours and with 26 random hand drawn characters, but after a tutorial where it was suggested that you only need 4 colours to make something appear multicoloured and that it would work better if I made the letters relate to the word they represented. I refined my idea and created a colour swatch and started to think of specific ideas to create each letter form.

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development

I converted the colour swatches I made in Orlaghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s workshop to digital and used the technique of making colour swatches for my pdf, instead of just picking random colours.

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development

All the stages that my colours went through before I ended up with my final colour swatch. I picked all the original colours from my melty face. But the blue was to bright for that combination, but then an all pastels palette was to bland.

So I tried an all brights palette but it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t what I wanted. Eventually I ended up with a mix of brights and pastels and with one slight change to the blue I arrived at my final swatch. All the while only sticking to four colours

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development

After looking back at my piece for type as image I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t very happy with it. So to develop it I decided to focus on representing the flow and rhythm of poetry, Again using string but twisting in different threads to show the emotions that go into it.

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development After a tutorial it was suggested that I shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just use drawing to create my display letters as maybe it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the best solution for each

letter, So I started to experiment with clip art, using different size markers, photography and different live trace settings.

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development

When developing my H for hierarchy, I was thinking about social an royal hierarchies. As well as those in chess. At first I tried to display that the king has the most power but this didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t work so then I displayed the power that the royal couple have while the jack is subservient, using playing cards.

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development

I was sketching out different ideas for the display A and when I decided on the book idea, I then decided to create a typeface by arranging objects, so I experimented with different objects like, candles, dog ends, flowers, nougat, and pegs before deciding to use the seeds.

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development

To make my F for found I used some old stickers I found in the bottom of my box at home and then layered them to create an F. I traced round it as well but I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like the finished trace as much as the stickers. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve created two stop motions to show my process.

Stop motion animations

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development

When developing both the display letter and content for my Mike Perry spread I looked closely at his work and took inspiration from his use of bright colours and jaunty angular shapes. I then chose to create my pieces from collage

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ppd

My ideas for this project came quite slowly at first as the idea of an A to Z of graphic language has so many possibilities that I found myself quite stuck. However after some brainstorming I found that pretty much all of the workshops that I had attended where type based or type related so I decided to go with typography as my theme/ concept. However I didn’t come to this decision until after getting a chance to discuss the idea of concept in my first tutorial. While other ideas came straight out of workshops I attended like my idea for my display font which when all put together forms my “T for typeface” was an idea I got form David’s vernacular type workshop, from which I also developed my “Melty face” which is on my “D for draw” page. I think the vernacular type workshop was the one that really got me to think about type being my concept, as I really wanted to feature the work I had done in it and developed from it in my pdf. The idea of making a colour swatch came directly from Orlagh’s workshop on colour, but I wasn’t quite sure on what colours I wanted to use. At first I wanted multi colour, but after talking through it in a tutorial with Orlagh she suggested that the colours in my “Melty face” where nice and that I only needed four colours for the design to appear multi coloured. The palette I developed in illustrator I thought worked really well at first, I picked the four shades that I liked the most and created my palette but it received negative feedback from tutors who weren’t to sure about so much pastel.

Overall I am quite pleased with my pdf as I put a lot of effort into it and I feel it shows, through my design. Although there are a few minus points, areas that can be improved on, some of the content for the letters I feel could be stronger. I think maybe if I had tried a few more processes rather then stuck with what I felt comfortable with then they may have turned out stronger. I feel that my display font works really well after taking Orlagh’s advice to relate it to the subject area that it is representing. I’d like to see how they would work in a whole spread, i.e. a two-page collage, or I think they would work really well as big screen prints or a screen printed poster. An interesting point of my A to Z I think and was a comment in my assessment is the alphabet itself. Although it’s type related I think it’s interesting that not all the words are terminology, designers or things you would immediately associate with type. Although I think it maybe could’ve been even better if I’d tried out words that where not directly typographic links, but words that I could have been displayed and communicated typographically. But then that would have been an entirely different alphabet, though that’s not a bad thing as mine is not as conceptual as some of the alphabets I’ve seen discussed in tutorials, so maybe I could try this idea in my own time.

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I think through this project I have learnt a lot more about graphic design as a subject. From attending Ben’s workshops I feel that I have learnt a lot technically about type, how to set text, kern, how to mix fonts etc. Which in turn benefitted my work, as I have been able to set all the text in the A to Z and work placement report properly. Also I’ve learnt that graphics can be used to represent anything, XOXOXO may not be a direct graphic term like a designer, term or a movement but I can represent the idea graphically. I also feel I’ve learnt how much colour can affect your design, if you don’t use it correctly or if it’s slightly to bright or pale it can distract from the design. I also feel that this project has taught me things about myself as well. I know now form my formative assessment that I need to work on how I use my grids and lay things out, as this is not one of my strong points at the moment, but I can improve on it as I go on and get stronger. I think after the discussion with Kate I have improved on this point a bit, by making my grid different and thinking about it differently. It has also made me realise that I really enjoy drawing and maybe I should bring this into my work a little bit more often. I’ve also learnt that while I am improving I still need to work on my time management when I get a project, as I have been quite stressed at times with it. Overall I feel that even though it has been tough I have learnt a lot from this project.

These are blogs I have kept through out the project and I used them to help me write my conclusion and reflect on what I’d learnt.

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A to Z of Graphic Language