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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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By Sarah Hyndman

I recently created a week-long course for the wonderful 2nd & 3rd year students at the École Intuit Lab in Mumbai, India. Here’s a 3 minute edit of the Master Talk I gave at the end of the week to industry leaders and students. Full report on the course coming soon, to be written by the students.

“Sarah it was wonderful session. Students will learn lot from your way of expressing types” Sarang Kulkarni, co-founder of Ek Type type foundry.

“A brilliant, and absolutely crazy journey, while learning so much more about type” Zahra Dhuliawala, student.

“History of type was made, for the first time ever, interesting, to a class of teenagers” Shruti Vidyanand, student.

Find out more about the workshop.
Book a workshop for your organisation.

Design Week, sarah hyndman

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.

Read full article in Design Week…

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

Tate modern
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Why Fonts Matter
Games, talk and book signing with Sarah Hyndman

Tate Modern
The Terrace shop
Friday 16th September
6–7pm drop-in games and demonstrations
7–7.45pm talk and book signing

Join Sarah Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter, for a selection of Type Tasting games and demonstrations followed by a talk and book signing. This is part of the London Design Festival at Bankside.

Clever, insightful and original, Sarah left a lasting buzz and excitement behind her!” Charlotte Godfrey, BBC.

What does your choice of font say about your personality? Which typefaces you would date, ditch or be ‘just good friends’ with. Can a font make a product look expensive or change what it smells or tastes like?

We all constantly interact with type in almost every aspect of our lives. But how do fonts affect what we read and influence the choices we make? Sarah Hyndman opens up the incredible science and the magical art of how fonts influence us.

A fascinating insight into how type can influence our feelings, our senses, and even our taste” Professor Charles Spence, University of Oxford

Most books about fonts are written for designers, Sarah brings the power of fonts to everyone” Patrick Burgoyne, Creative Review

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Fun” “Brilliant” “Inspiring” “Eye-candy” “EnlighteningAmazon UK reviews

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London Design Festival 2016

Exciting and innovative Type Tasting events are planned for the London Design Festival with Bankside Design District. ‘Do You Judge a Wine by its Label?’ is an enlightening and enjoyable tasting evening that combines wine, design and science. Discover what the label tells you about a wine, and how it can even influence how it tastes (along with jolly nice Laithwaite’s wine). ‘What’s Your Type?’ workshops are bursting with fun games and demonstrations that teach you the personalities of typefaces and how to choose a font in three easy steps (no experience necessary). This will be hosted by Bedales in Borough Market.

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Do you judge a wine by its label? London Design Festival. Do you judge a wine by its label? London Design Festival.

TASTE
Do you judge a wine by its label?
Wine and type tasting evening, £30
Thursday 22nd September, 7.30pm – 9.30pm SOLD OUT
Tuesday 27th September, 7.30pm – 9.30pm BOOK NOW
Laithwaite’s, Arch 219-221, Stoney St, London SE1 9AA

A unique and enlightening wine/type tasting experience. Come on a journey of discovery through a selection of superb wines as you explore what the design of the label tells you about what you drink. How much does a bottle cost? If it looks expensive will you enjoy it more? What does the type tell you about its provenance? Try your hand at wine and font pairing as you identify the key flavours. Ultimately is the label just there to inform you, or can it transform your tasting experience?

The wine and type tasting evening has been created by innovative type expert Sarah Hyndman, founder of Type Tasting, and will be co-hosted by Grant Hedley the wine tasting expert (tough job) with Laithwaite’s. The event will be held in the beautiful Laithwaite’s Arch store. This family owned, independent wine merchant has been finding some of the most exciting and enjoyable wines in the world for the last 50 years.

“Frankly brilliant idea of combining a type workshop with a wine tasting” It’s Nice That

Book quickly, tickets are selling fast www.bit.ly/LDFWineType

Reviews from the preview evening:
14055023_10153759537861723_7257824421618573941_n   seen_london_logo_black_small     Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 15.23.12

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What's Your Type?

LEARN
What’s your type?

Would you like to learn a simple 3-step process for choosing a font?
And to have access to the latest Type Tasting research results?

Wednesday 21st September, £15
Workshops last an hour; start times are 12pm, 2pm, 5pm, 7pm and 9pm.
Bedales Borough Market, 5 Bedale St, London SE1 9AL.
(No experience is needed, booking is necessary as numbers are limited).
BOOK NOW

Type Tasting is involved in extensive research quantifying how we respond to different typefaces. This workshop is based on results, not opinions; you will learn how to use this knowledge to make confident font choices.

• LEARN an easy 3-step process for choosing a font.
• FIND OUT why different fonts are suitable for different occasions.
• CREATE a font profile analysis chart to refer to when choosing fonts.
• UNDERSTAND how a font can look cheap, expensive, calm, angry and can even alter your experiences.

Find out more…

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Also from Type Tasting during the London Design Festival

tatemodern timemachine

DISCOVER
Tate Modern: Talk and book signing
Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th September
Date to be announced

CREATE
V&A: Typographic Time Machine #TimeType
Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th September
Drop in and get creative at the V&A during the London Design Festival’s Graphics Weekend, sponsored by Monotype

Brochure cover
DISCOVER / CREATE / LEARN / TASTE
Download the programme of Type Tasting events at the London Design Festival.

(Photos from Type Tasting at the V&A for LDF 2015 by David Owens)

 

Letterform Live

Unknown Outcomes

Type got experimental at last week’s Letterform Live, with a fascinating set of talks from our crack line up of speakers. Theo Inglis reports for Grafik

Last Wednesday night saw the third event in Grafik’s Letterform Live series of events, presented in partnership with Monotype and the ISTD, and hosted by Protein Studios in Shoreditch, East London. The audience enjoyed five different speakers, each giving a short but rich and image-filled presentation, kicking off with a single typographic letterform of their choice and spiralling outwards from there. Our chosen theme for the night was ‘Experimental’, something very much open to individual interpretation. As the American designer and theorist Buckminster Fuller once said “There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes”.

Read the full article here.