Type Cast. What does a poster’s typography tell us? More than you’d think. Graphic designer and Type Tasting founder Sarah Hyndman helps us crack the code behind cinema’s most famous fonts.
June 2017 issue, words Jordan Farley
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.”
Designer and type fanatic Sarah Hyndman shares her most-cherished books with It’s Nice That.
By Rebecca Fulleylove
Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer, author, researcher and the founder of Type Tasting, an experimental type studio delivering talks, workshops and events. Sarah researches and teaches about the psychology of type and how to use it to communicate more effectively. She runs workshops, gives talks and creates events such as Wine and Type Tastings, which pose the question: “Do you judge a wine by its label?” Sarah is also the author of Why Fonts Matter, which we published an extract from earlier this year that discussed the effects of typography on our emotions. She is just on the cusp of publishing a second book, How to Draw Type and Influence People, which will be published by Laurence King in spring 2017.
The designer’s inspiration comes from outside the design world, taking ideas from different genres and exploring them through the lens of typography. With this abundance of influences we wanted to find out what sits atop Sarah’s bookshelf and lucky for us it’s a diverse mix of books on packaging design, typography and food.
Typographer and graphic designer Sarah Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter, will be giving a talk this month about the power of typefaces in the punk era, part of the current Graphics of Punk exhibition on at the Museum of Brands.
We speak to her about how punk democratised design, and why Snapchat is the modern-day equivalent.
Design Week: Why did you get involved in the Graphics of Punk exhibition?
Sarah Hyndman: Type charts social and historic change. The Museum of Brands is a place where you can see all these voices speaking through all of its products and packaging, which wouldn’t normally be shown in an exhibition because they’re not considered high design. My area of interest is how type is woven into the social fabric of our lives – it’s something that I’m on a mission to democratise.
DW: What will you be talking about in the Never Mind the Typography talk?
SH: It’s an hour-long, interactive talk. I’m going to start by looking at what Britain was like in the early, post-war 1970s – there were a lot of social conventions, and the graphic design community was still besotted by the formality of modernism and minimalism. The UK was also going through a recession and it was a massive time of change. Then punk appeared and completely broke the rule book. It was shocking compared to everything else that was happening.
I’ll look then at how punk gave people a voice. It wasn’t about the designers, or the establishment. This was before Apple Macs were around, so you couldn’t just print your own posters. You’d have to go to a typesetter, and the method would be expensive. Punks ignored all of that and found this really immediate way of disseminating their voices. Punk graphics and typography have become part of the everyday vernacular today, but it was very empowering at the time.
Book a Typographic rebellion ‘Learn, socialise & create’ session
How to start a revolution with Comic Sans Dazed & Confused magazine interview
2016 is the new 1976 Sarah Hyndman
How Punk changed Graphic Design Sarah Hyndman
Vetements, Brioni and Kanye Agree: It’s Gothic Time
New York Times, August 9th
By Max Berlinger
“It’s been used for some of the most sacred texts in the Western world,” said Michael Bierut, a partner at the design firm Pentagram and a senior critic at the Yale School of Art. “At the same time, it’s used by biker gangs, street gangs, heavy-metal groups and death-metal groups. It seems like Satan has come to own it more than God.”
Thanks to its longevity, the typeface has accrued a wide range of cultural associations and the versatility to convey both a sense of reverential authority and rebellion. “I think there’s always that double edge, a duality that goes on in everything,” said Sarah Hyndman, the author of “Why Fonts Matter.”
How Type Can Tell the History of Your City
A London designer leads a tour of her neighborhood signage
By Ellen Himelfarb for AIGA’s Eye on Design.
**BOOK HERE for the final two Dalston Type Safaris taking place this year**
“On a recent Tuesday evening, I followed Sarah Hyndman around Dalston, one of London’s most creative and fast-gentrifying neighborhoods. Her so-called Dalston Type Safari hadn’t sounded like the most exotic endeavor, to this local, at least. It resembled a safari insofar as we roamed among native creatures, some growling to themselves, and kept alert for dangerous beasts of the wheeled variety.
“Yet Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter and an expert on the psychology of typefaces, came armed with vast amounts of wisdom (and a tote stuffed with gummy treats, popcorn, and hand-pressed postcards, lending it all a staycation vibe). I think we all came away as enlightened as if we’d been abroad and back.”
The theme of Grafik’s Letterform Live this week was ‘Experimental’, and it was an exciting evening to be a part of. My aim for the evening was to bring a bit of ‘bonkers and magic’ at a time of so much anxiety. We filled the bar with jellybeans and asked the 130 audience members to guess each flavour from the style of the typeface on the label. If you weren’t at the event you can still take part in this experiment here.
I spoke about how amazing the human brain is for the skilful way it creates a ‘sub-programme’ to perform the complex task of reading, which your subconscious performs automatically. Your eyes simply glance over a series of marks in a huge array of shapes and sizes and—as if by magic—stories, ideas, memories, songs, smells are conjured up right there in your mind.