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REPUTATION TAYLOR

Taylor Swift, Blackletter and typography-fuelled gossip
By Sarah Hyndman

The announcement of Taylor Swift’s new album, Reputation, is a great example of typography used as a visual code. It has resulted in a furore of debate on social media that Swift is reprising her well-known feud with Kanye West, yet if you look behind her you see her name repeated over and over in the styles of the media mastheads and logos—from high brow to gossip tabloids. This is a clever double meaning, and one that is inherently meta, because it is fuelling the media machine to obsess over a reference that ultimately appears to be about itself.

#TaylorSwift

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Sarah hyndman on 60 years of this iconic typeface, understanding it in context of social history, and what her research tells us about its personality.

Typefaces/fonts reflect the defining spirit of a period in time. They are shaped by the ideas and aspirations of the era, and as a result they document cultural change. One of the most high profile examples of this is the now 60-year-old Helvetica; a typeface designed to be neutral and devoid of a personality. Instead it became the figurehead for the dramatic social shifts beginning in the post-war 1950s; a time of breaking with the traditions of the past as people looked to a new future.

Life in the 1950s was ruled by social conventions: marriage; men had a career to support their family; women stayed at home to look after the family; Sunday was still essentially Victorian in character; suits or corsets were everyday attire; in Britain received pronunciation, or ‘BBC English’, ruled the airwaves. The advent of the teenager was accompanied by the new rock ‘n’ roll music, which older generations thought would lead to juvenile delinquency.

In the US this was a time of economic growth after the end of World War II, along with the boom in the number of babies being born as people looked to the future with a new optimism for peace and prosperity. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum and demanding change. In Britain, despite food still being rationed, post-war austerity and high taxes, there was an excitement about the future and the 1951 Festival of Britain was a celebration of the nation’s innovations.

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Angels to Demons: Blackletter Workshop

By Sarah Hyndman

Learn, socialise & create
Angels to Demons: Blackletter Workshop
Three hour workshop and talk
The workshop can be held at a venue of your choice, or up to 15 can be accommodated in the Type Tasting Studio, The Chocolate Factory, London N16 7SX.

Type Tasting Learn, socialise & create sessions take a typeface or type style and explore it in the context of popular culture and history to reveal the meanings beyond the letterforms.

Refuel your team’s creativity with hands-on letterform exploration as they roll up their sleeves for a fast paced and fun session away from the computer, experimenting with typography.

Explore the evolution of Blackletter typefaces from their first printed appearance in the Gutenberg Bible in the 1400s to their enduring popularity in music and fashion. Blackletter is a chameleon of a type style because its personality is transformed from the extremes of good to evil by the context it appears in; from the Bible, the masthead of a newspaper, a beer label, movie poster, record sleeve to Nazi propaganda. In this session you will look at the evolving history of Blackletter type and how it has absorbed so many associations, modern takes on the style, and also investigate your instinctive responses to the shapes of the letterforms. You will then roll your sleeves up for a hands-on creative session away from the computer sketching Blackletter letterforms as you experience how sound can alter your response to the forms. No previous experience necessary.

15 mins Mingle and relax whilst playing a couple of classic Type Tasting games.
45 mins Typographic rebellion talk by Sarah Hyndman.
90 mins Hands-on creative session exploring rebellious type and lettering.
30 mins Display work, finish with questions and a prize raffle.

Outcomes
• Enjoy a social and creative team building session in a relaxed, informal environment.
• Get away from the computer to explore a range of markmaking tools inventively and playfully. Research shows that writing and drawing by hand promotes creative idea generation and memory.
• Explore different type styles and letterforms, and how these can be used in an expressive way.
• This is a creative thinking refresher—a reminder of how to think creatively and on our feet without the preconceptions of the final outcome.

Interviews with Sarah Hyndman
Vetements, Brioni and Kanye Agree: It’s Gothic Time New York Times
Fashion’s favourite font The Times

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diary-typographicrebellion

By Sarah Hyndman

Learn, socialise & create
Typographic Rebellion Workshop
Three hour workshop and talk
The workshop can be held at a venue of your choice, or up to 15 can be accommodated in the Type Tasting Studio, The Chocolate Factory, London N16 7SX.

Type Tasting Learn, socialise & create sessions take a typeface or type style and explore it in the context of popular culture and history to reveal the meanings beyond the letterforms.

Refuel your team’s creativity with hands-on letterform exploration as they roll up their sleeves for a fast paced and fun session away from the computer, experimenting with typography.

Explore how typography can be used to give angst and rebellion a voice, and how you can use type to ensure that YOUR message is heard. You will learn from recent history how typefaces both articulate and document change, and what an important role they have played. From the anti-establishment angst of Punk, the placards of the miners’ strikes of the 1980s, the wine industry’s seismic shift through language and design, to the successful presidential campaigns in the USA.

15 mins Mingle and relax whilst playing a couple of classic Type Tasting games.
45 mins Typographic rebellion talk by Sarah Hyndman.
90 mins Hands-on creative session exploring rebellious type and lettering.
30 mins Display work, finish with questions and a prize raffle.

Outcomes
• Enjoy a social and creative team building session in a relaxed, informal environment.
• Get away from the computer to explore a range of markmaking tools inventively and playfully. Research shows that writing and drawing by hand promotes creative idea generation and memory.
• Explore different type styles and letterforms, and how these can be used in an expressive way.
• This is a creative thinking refresher—a reminder of how to think creatively and on our feet without the preconceptions of the final outcome.

Interviews with Sarah Hyndman
How to start a revolution with Comic Sans Dazed & Confused magazine interview
Punk was the anti-Helvetica Design Week interview
2016 is the new 1976 Sarah Hyndman
How Punk changed Graphic Design Sarah Hyndman

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dazed-burger

By Sarah Hyndman

I chatted to Louis Bradley of Dazed and Confused Magazine about typographic rebellion and how the ultimate way to rebel against the increasing ubiquity of the sans serif might be to use fonts that provoke a reaction like Comic Sans or Papyrus.

“How to start a revolution with Comic Sans. Could something as simple as font have been the catalyst for the spread of punk or behind Donald Trump’s win? We explore the hidden power of typeface”

The idea that something as simple as typeface can be an integral part of a protest movement might sound a bit far-fetched. But the role of fonts is just as important as actual words in communicating a message to the masses. It’s why you don’t ever stray too far away from Arial or Times New Roman on your CV – you don’t want to come across as too much of an avant-garde loose canon by opting for Lucida Handwriting or Bradley Hand. Or why you don’t commonly use curly script-like letters for your uni essays.

Sarah Hyndman creates workshops and events designed to teach the art of typography and deconstruct the power of design. The ‘Never Mind The Typography’ exhibition outlines how the angst and rebellion of punk was expressed in every fibre of the counterculture, even right down to the lettering. “When punk (and its typeface) arrived in the mid-70s, the design at that point in time was very traditional and old-fashioned, kind of nostalgic and backwards looking,” she explains. It was this reaction to the rigid restrictions of modernism that gave birth to a whole new movement in innovative design. Cast your mind back to the creator of the ransom note style and the Sex Pistols logo Jamie Reid, and the slick layered graphics on British Independent album sleeves created by Barney Bubbles, who also designed the logo for NME magazine. “With all of this comes the layering of meanings, layering of images, often lots of references and subtexts that were put in so you had to be in the know to understand the references. You know from that type style that the album is going to be in a certain rebellious underground – it’s going to have swearing in it, basically.”

Read the full article in Dazed…

Punk was the anti-Helvetica Design Week interview
2016 is the new 1976 Sarah Hyndman
How Punk changed Graphic Design Sarah Hyndman

Typography as the voice of change

By Sarah Hyndman

Find out how typography gave the angst and rebellion of Punk a voice, and how you can use fonts to ensure that YOUR message is heard. 

Punk changed graphic design¹. When it first exploded in the 1970s it appeared to be youthful rebellion. However, looking back we now consider it to be an important part of the Postmodernist movement, which began as a reaction to the rigid restrictions of Modernism. Punk’s DIY ethos encapsulated the anti-establishment mood of the mid 1970s: a time of ongoing economic hardship, with social fragmentation, an economy struggling to recover from a stock market crash, housing problems and increasing unemployment. This was a decade facing a clash of expectations as both the economy and society struggled to cope with the pace of change as the rose-tinted nostalgia of the past collided with a seemingly out-of-control vision of the future. Sound familiar?

Punk was an empowering time of do-it-yourself, when the message truly became the medium as everybody took up their scissors and glue to create zines, posters, flyers and record sleeves (this was pre-Mac). These were often mass produced on the photocopier in the local library and stapled together by hand—not designed and typeset by professionals. What made Punk’s voice stand out was its difference; it literally broke all the typesetting rules by cutting up the grid and throwing the words back down on the page in a haphazard chaos of styles.

Do you have a message that you want the World to listen to? It’s not just what you say, it’s also the way you say it that will create maximum impact and ensure that your message is heard. Context is key. In 2008 Obama’s presidential ‘Change’ campaign² looked so different to the political typographic landscape in the US at the time, that it literally embodied the theme of change. It did this while also conveying trust, confidence and experience, not idealistic rhetoric.

Craig Oldham documents the miners’ strikes of the 1980s “a historical movement of the working class people”. He shows how the placards distributed by the LCDTU trade union use distinct geometric forms that are “bold and direct in the sea of visual noise that is a mass demonstration”. These letterforms mirror the immediacy and anger of the miners’ hand-written placards, and they also give the miners a unified voice³.

Roboto, Google typeface Segoe, Microsoft typeface San Francisco, Apple typeface

The typography of social media and apps today is of corporate and minimalist sans serif typefaces* that, to the untrained eye, look very similar to each other (above), all contained within a structured grid. There are few opportunities to use type expressively, hence the rise of the emoji. Snapchat is a platform that enables you to customise your words (in any font you want, provided it’s Avenir), and their fleeting 10-second life span encourages a DIY approach that breaks them out of the homogeneity of the social networks.

A typeface gives your cause or movement a recognisable voice that inspires ideas, ensures your message is heard, and empowers your words to make a difference. Looking at the voices of change and rebellion in the context of history reveals the full impact they had at the time, and demonstrates how you can use a font as a catalyst for change.

Would you like to find out more?

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