“F!ing genius!” Intriguing visitors with an immersive, multisensory installation


I’ve been creating immersive and multisensory installations for a number of years now. They’ve been on hold during Covid but plans are now underway for the future. This is the large-scale multisensory installation I created at Adobe MAX at the L.A. Convention Centre in Los Angeles.

Visitors were immersed in the mood of different typefaces through all of their senses. At each station they were invited to put on headphones, to smell a scent in a jar or by flipping the pages of a book, to eat a small taster and to feel a texture. Each set of stimuli was designed to bring a mood to life in the participant’s imagination. There was curiosity and intrigue as the first visitors arrived and they were soon returning with groups of friends saying “you have to try this”.

“The experience that Type Tasting designed for the Adobe Fonts booth at Adobe MAX was such a fun, intriguing way for people to explore how their reactions to fonts relate to other sensations” Dan Rhatigan, Adobe Fonts

Sound designer Rob Taliesin Owen created bespoke sounds and a bespoke scent was created by 4160 Tuesdays. The installation was produced and run with the wonderful Adobe Fonts team.

“Font ‘tasting’, it was awesome! You could smell, hear and taste the fonts”

  • Type Tasting installation at Adobe MAX in Los Angeles

What’s it like to be a guest typography expert on live television?

“Welcome to Sunday Brunch Live, Sarah welcome back to the show…”

I love being the occasional typography expert for Sunday Brunch, Channel 4 Television’s live TV show here in the UK. It’s always an exciting opportunity to share my type-themed games and demonstrations with a mainstream audience, which is something I’ve specialised in since launching Type Tasting.

Knowing that well over half a million people watch each show really gets the adrenaline pumping while I’m sitting in the green room watching the time counting down. It’s a very surreal feeling. But the presenters are absolutely brilliant at making the guests feel relaxed—I think that’s their superpower. When my very first appearance was about to start, presenter Simon Rimmer leaned over and whispered “I love typography” to me with a big smile. This turned my nerves into enthusiasm, and you can tell that we were having fun when you watch.

Presenters Simon and Tim Lovejoy have joined me for font sniffing, to chat about how menus can influence your appreciation of a meal and I’ve analysed their personalities from their font choices. I’ve talked about type trends in popular culture and where they come from. There are always lots of props and visuals. It’s fun preparing the content because the graphics team at the production company get excited about creating the visuals for the segment. After all, it’s all about typography!

It’s fascinating to see behind the scenes of live television and to know just how much goes into creating a show. I was surprised to discover that the studio’s pretty small and not the spacious environment I used to imagine when I watched. The table for my interviews is right on the edge of the kitchen, so I wait very quietly for the cooking to end and hope my stomach doesn’t decide to growl from the smell of the food. Then I have to tiptoe quietly out of the studio as soon as my segment ends. The adrenaline shakes are setting in at that point so I have to be extra careful not to trip over cables and duck under lights carefully so I don’t knock them out of position. It’s interesting to see how different people calm their nerves in the green room beforehand, especially the really famous guests who must have done this so many times.

Thank you to my expert friends who help with the content. Especially beer writer Pete Brown for the beer label history and Pixel Press for loaning their stunning tray of “slab serif case number 7” letterpress wood type.

I look forward to popping up on television again soon, maybe on Sunday Brunch again.

Radio interviews

🔊Word of Mouth BBC Radio 4: Michael Rosen with Sarah Hyndman (28 mins)

🔊Saturday Live BBC Radio 4 with Sarah Hyndman (4 mins)

Live at the London Transport Museum

I’m delighted that live, in-person events are happening again after a very long break. It’s wonderful to be in the same room as all of you with the collective energy, banter and all those random post-event conversations. I’ve especially missed those.

Recently I spoke at the incredibly inspiring TBD evening at Fora (you can see how happy I was to be there). Tonight I’ll be live at the London Transport Museum for a fun evening of Fontastical Games as part of their After Dark series. This will be part gameshow and part quiz. It’s heavily influenced by my love of 1970s gameshows full of laughter and things that will inevitably go wrong.

Roll up roll up for an evening of fonts, letters and signs. Can you guess the tube station from the font clues? Will you spot the real sign from the fake? Shout along with typography karaoke. Play along with font charades. And we’ll end with the classic lost property conveyor belt game.

You’ll have the chance to win spot prizes of my books and a set of Hidden London virtual tour tickets.

Friday 12th November
Fontastical Games at the London Transport Museum After Dark
6.30–9pm, £10/£12
Come along and join me

Christmas gifts for graphic designers

Are you looking for a unique gift for the graphic designer in your life? Or someone who loves typography? Are you searching for an unusual Secret Santa gift? Visit the Type Tasting Typography Emporium for a range of items created for font fans young and old. These are all designed by Sarah Hyndman and published by Type Tasting.

Vouchers • T-shirts • Cards • Books • Zines

(More items will be added over the next few weeks, get in touch if you have a request).

Typographic t-shirts

Exclusive Type Tasting t-shirts. Designs range from puns and ampersands to asterisk snowflakes and secret messages hidden in Letraset-inspired designs. The t-shirts are 100% organic cotton printed by Teemill in the UK in a renewable energy-powered factory. Worldwide shipping is available.

Check out the full range of t-shirts

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Typographic greetings cards

Send an exclusive typetastic card. The ampersand and asterisk cards are the current top sellers. Printed in the UK by Thortful with worldwide shipping on premium quality paper stock with a premium grey GF Smith embossed envelope. “Everything is lovely about them. Even the envelopes” Theo.

Go card shopping

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Typographic colouring books

Passive Aggressive Fonts
Typographic colouring book for adults
By Sarah Hyndman

Colour your fonting frustrations away. Vent your vexations colouring a confrontation of snarky fonts. Exorcise your exasperations as you creativity the heck out of an antagonism of tetchy typefaces. Scribble your way through a clamour of passive aggressive phrases. Including those classic fonts you love to hate.

Buy on Amazon.co.uk £4.99
Buy on Amazon.com $5.99
Also available on Amazon worldwide, choose your local territory

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Typography time machine gift vouchers
Draw & learn online workshop series
Series gift voucher £40 / £190

Curious to know why there are so many typefaces? Intrigued by where the different styles come from? Fonts are like magical time machines. They transport you to different times and places. They conjure up stories of decadence, revolutions, transformation and ingenuity.

Check out the series & buy a gift voucher

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Fontosaurs, when dinosaur fonts roamed the earth

T-shirts, birthday cards and colouring books for the young dinosaur fans in your life. They’ll learn to recognise the letters in each dinosaur’s name with fonts matched to the personality of the each prehistoric creature. Fontosaurs evolved from a typographic collaboration between Sarah and her then 12-year-old nephew Eddie.

Check out all the prehistoric items in the shop

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Books and zines

From the bestselling Why Fonts Matter, the Type Dating Card Game to zines that accompany published scientific studies.

Visit the Type Tasting Typograpy Emporium

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Typography Time Machine drawings shown (left to right, top to bottom). Terrific Tuscans drawings are by Olivia Krawczyk, @minarama, Sarah Wilson, Mina Bach, @stircreativenz and Kat Gaska. Book to Poster drawings are by Amy Muddle, @typographHer, @minarama, @jenna_b_design, @nicewriting, @thecreativeapes, @Jenna_b_design and @mycolourfullife.online. Sans (Serif) Seekers drawings are by Jenny Monds, Kat Gaska, @stonkingfidosetc, Olivia Krawczyk, Jitka Hrůzová.

I’m thinking of creating a new online Experimental Typography course, would you be interested?

I created and taught an Experimental Typography course at LCC (University of the Arts London) from 2001 to 2008. It feels so timely to bring back a new version of it online.

Would you be interested?

If there’s enough interest I’ll go ahead and do it!

Images shown from Experimental Typography at LCC between 2001–2008. They’re by Jordi Biosca, Claire Pringle, Joe Gardiner, Becky Chilcott, Claire Mason, Angela Lamb and Zoë Chan.

Kern Baby Kern

What’s the story behind the t-shirt?

This t-shirt is inspired by the song Disco Inferno by the Trammps. It’s a disco classic and almost impossible to listen to without dancing along.

🎵 Listen to the song (turn up the sound and dance)

Kerning is a geeky typography term for the spacing between individual letters. There are lots of examples of when kerning goes wrong with unfortunate and amusing results. One of my near-misses was when I set the words FLICK THE PAGES on a scented book for an exhibition. I realised just in time that the close spacing between the L and I looked more like a U. Oops.

The three typefaces that feature on the Kern Baby Kern t-shirt were available as rubdown Letraset sheets. Chromium One was designed by David Harris in 1983. This was perfect for a decade of chrome and airbrushed posters. Shatter is an experimental typeface designed by Vic Carless in 1973. Carless literally smashed Helvetica up, which is what Punk did to Modernism in the 1970s. Piccadilly was designed by Christopher Matthews in 1973—this neon font is pure 1970s disco.

These are unisex t-shirts in regular men’s sizes (different colours and styles can be arranged on request). They’re printed on a 100% organic cotton t-shirt and printed in the UK in a renewable energy-powered factory. Worldwide shipping available.

Buy the dark grey & white print t-shirt, £19
(available worldwide)

Buy the white print t-shirt, £19
(available worldwide)

See all the t-shirt designs

(Buy t-shirts and support my book writing)

Fantastical Fonts with Sarah Hyndman: online live events

🔊Listen to the audio version

Not-to-be-missed interactive, funny and fantastical live events. Sarah’s on a mission to make typography exciting for everybody by inviting you to take part in games and demonstrations so you can make the discoveries for yourself.

Come along to this fun and irreverent online event with author Sarah Hyndman. Join in with games from her bestselling book Why Fonts Matter. She’ll answer as many of your questions as possible, no questions are too silly or too strange!

Ideal for beginners, students and anybody curious about reading fonts. We’re all font consumers in our everyday lives. Sarah will show you that you’re already an expert, even if you don’t realise it.

WHO’S THAT FONT?
Tuesday 14th September, 7pm to 8pm (BST)
Do fonts have personalities? Which would you date, ditch or just be friends with? What does a font reveal about your personality?

DO FONTS SMELL?
Tuesday 28th September 7pm to 8pm (BST)
What might different fonts smell like and what memories do they evoke? Can a font make your jellybean taste different? How do fonts interact with all your senses?
Bring a matching pair of jellybeans for an experiment.
£1.99 per person, only 25 tickets.
Book here

Once you’ve purchased your ticket you’ll be sent the Zoom details. Please tell your friends, let’s have some fun.

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the fantastical world of fonts?

About your host
Sarah Hyndman demystifies the amazing world of typography. She is the author of Why Fonts Matter. She is a TEDx speaker, a regular on radio (BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth with Michael Rosen, Saturday Live, Today.) and TV (Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch). Sarah is a multisensory typography expert and collaborates on studies with Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford.

What’s the secret message hidden in your t-shirt?

🎵 Listen to Hunky Dory on Spotify (and spot the Zipper font)

Many of you know about (and share) my love of Letraset—the sheets of rub-down lettering that often featured the fashionable fonts of the day. The first gig I went to was with my friend Caryl to see David Bowie. He was the soundtrack to our teenage years. My school books were adorned with meticulous drawings of lettering from his record covers. I was so excited when I found the Hunky Dory title typeface, called Zipper, as a sheet of Letraset. Now I could make my books look like Bowie merch with the official Hunky Dory font.

Your t-shirt is inspired by that sheet of Letraset. Letters have been removed to leave a secret message on your shirt. They spell out Hunky Dory, David Bowie, Changes, Life on Mars and 1971. (Geeky detail: the second ‘1’ in 1971 is made from a deconstructed ‘T’ because Letraset sheets don’t always have enough of the characters you need).

Buy the Zipper t-shirt

Visit the new Type Tasting shop

(Buy t-shirts and support my book writing)

Psychotypography

By Sarah Hyndman 

I’ve been chatting to artist friends recently who’re interested in psychogeography. I always assumed that psychotypography would be a similar field, just with type instead of geography. Searching hasn’t turned much up but I think psychotypography describes what I do pretty well so I think it should be a thing.

Since psychogeography describes the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviour of individuals (Tate), then I propose that psychotypography describes the effect of the typographic environment on the emotions and behaviour of individuals. 

I love that an early influence was the flâneur, or urban wanderer. I think my Dalston Type Safaris could be considered a flâneur’s ramble through lettering in the urban environment.

Who’s experimenting in this space?

I made a psychotypography website ready for some experiments, it’s very empty right now.

What typography problem would you like solved?

🔊Listen to the audio version

This is a question I’ve been asking recently. Thank you for all your great answers, keep them coming.

Maybe it’s “I want to use more trending fonts” or “I want to know what font rules I can break, so I can have fun with fonts” or even “My teacher wants a simple design that is typeset in Arial. Is there any way I could secretly drop in another font without them noticing?”.

I recognise many as problems I had earlier in my career, when I also shared your feelings of anxiety and frustration.

By sharing your problems you’re joining me in my mission to change the way we think and talk about typography by making it exciting for everybody. Let’s all go from “overwhelmed” to “empowered”.

I’ll pick one a week to answer. You’ll also be helping me to make sure my books and workshops are really useful for you.

Take part

 👉 I’m an individual, take me to 3 quick questions  👈

 👉 I manage a team, take me to 3 quick questions  👈

These are some of the problems you’ve written to me about, how many of them resonate with you?

“Finding the right fonts for client’s websites” • “I want to use more trending fonts” • “My teacher wants a simple design that is typeset in Arial. Is there any way I could secretly drop in another better font without them noticing?” • “How to choose the best font” • “I love fonts, but never know when to use serif or non-serif ones—what should guide this decision?” • “I’m struggling to find a consistent font theme for my sector” • “I can’t decide” • “I want to know what font rules I can break, so I can have fun with fonts”.

How these make you feel

“Screaming” • “Disoriented” • “Old fashioned and stuck” • “Overwhelmed about how to start” • “Frustrated” • “Unsure” • “Frustrated, apprehensive (did I get it right?) & unconfident” • “Anxious that the font we select may not resonate” • “Frustrated” • “Curious”.

How you would like to feel about choosing typefaces?

“Happy” • “Relaxed” • “Free” • “Successful and able to more clearly communicate” • “Really happy” • “Empowered & confident (& thus relaxed!)” • “A lot more confident” • “Empowered” • “Joyous”.