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Wake up and Smell the Fonts, a Type Tasting session with Sarah Hyndman at Shoreditch House for the D&AD Festival Fringe

It was exciting to be a part of the D&AD Festival Fringe at Shoreditch House on the 26th April. We filled the exclusive private club’s Library with games and experiments involving typography and all the senses. This was followed by a talk and a lively Q&A session and everybody went home with a pile of Monotype goodies. A preview of results from one of the experiments were published in The Times newspaper.

“Tasting, smelling, listening to and even saying type! Mind blowing workshop from Sarah Hyndman #mindblown” Micklegate Design via Twitter.

“So interesting, so brilliantly delivered and such a clever structure. It was fabulous. My festival highlight.” Ruth Yearley, Partner. Director Of Insight & Strategy, Ketchum.

VBAT posted a fantastic write up of the D&AD Festival on their blog, read the full blog post here.

Extract from ‘Exploring the D&AD Festival 2017’
Blog post by Graham Sturt, Creative Director at VBAT

My second day at the festival started early with a visit to one of it’s Fringe Events — ‘Wake Up and Smell the Fonts: Type Tasting with Sarah Hyndman’. Offsite from the main festival, it was held in the library of Shoreditch House, a member’s club with a rooftop pool and refreshing ‘no suits’ policy in a converted East London warehouse. Arriving well before the rush of other participants I took a seat at the front and got comfortable while Sarah prepared for the session.

Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer, writer and public speaker known for her interest in the psychology of type, whose area of expertise is multi sensory typography. Sarah is the founder of the highly innovative Type Tasting studio; and her mission is to change the way we think and talk about typography through her writing, typography workshops and events. Author of two books on typography: Why Fonts Matter and How to Draw Type and Influence People much of Sarah’s work is focused on research into typography and perception. To this end she has worked on several collaborative studies over the last 4 years with the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at University of Oxford.


Typographic games, photo by Graham Sturt.

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Please join me for an evening as I present How to Draw Type and Influence People in my local bookshop over a glass of wine. This is a fantastic and welcoming independent bookshop in North London. Pull up a chair as I talk about the science of why drawing on paper is ‘magic’; show you that type isn’t just for experts and geeks; tell you what inspired me to fall in love with type; and share stories that will make you look at your font menu in a new light. Afterwards I’ll be signing books and answering your questions.

Author talk and book signing with Sarah Hyndman
How to Draw Type and Influence People
Thursday 11th May 8pm (talk starts at 8.15)
Stoke Newington Bookshop
159 Stoke Newington High Street
London N16 0NY
£5, turn up on the night or book in advance here.

We had an amazing launch evening at Tate Modern a week ago, thank you all so much for coming along and to Laurence King Publishing. We filled the bookshop with experiments, games and giant sweets for everybody to explore as I mingled, signed books and talked about my typographic explorations. The Times printed a short piece with a first glimpse of experiment results from the evening, read this here. A list of all the recent press coverage is here.

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Vinyl Type: Guess the music genre
We took the Type Tasting record collection along to Letterform Live’s ‘Vinyl’ night with Grafik and Monotype. The record player and vinyl records were set up in the bar as a fun game to play before and after the talks. We invited the audience to guess the music genre from the typeface on the record label, and then to play the record to find out whether they were right. Best played with lashings of beer.

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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