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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.

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Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch features history and fashion in type with Sarah Hyndman

Sarah Hyndman interviewed on Sunday Brunch on April 9th 2017, this is available here on catchup TV in the UK (the interview starts at around 01:10). This is an overview of the conversation that covered 550 years of type in eight and a half minutes, with a few supporting facts added in.

The production team and graphics department at Princess Productions sourced and created most of the examples, we all had a lot of fun because they were excited about the segment. Presenter Simon is also a very big type fan and had his copy of the book stashed in his bag to take home with him.

   

Tim: Welcome back to Sunday Brunch live. We’re here with graphic designer and author Sarah Hyndman. You’re going to teach us a little about the history of typography, what is it first of all?

Typography is written language made from preformed letters that can be repeated over and over. During the centuries many shapes and styles of the letters have been designed, all of which have absorbed their own set of associations or meanings. We might think that we don’t notice these meanings, but we do because reading is a complex task performed by our non-conscious (like driving or walking), and as a result the type communicates directly with our non-conscious brain.

Looking at type in context is like code breaking. The shapes and styles appear in all aspects of our everyday lives and form a mirror for social history and cultural change. Looking at the typefaces gives you many clues about historical context, origins and genres.

Simon: I like the word typeface better than font, what’s the difference?

A typeface is the design, like Helvetica. A font is the physical form of a typeface—this could be the metal type we print with, or the digital file on your computer. However, the terms are used fairly interchangeably outside the professional world of graphic design and typography.

Tim: You’re now going to take us through the history of a few well-known fonts. First we’re going to look at this gothic font, when was this first used?

Printing first came to Europe in the 1400s and at the time, like many new technologies, it copied the format of the existing technology—in this case hand-written books. Books were huge and prestigious artefacts, carefully hand written by monks and scribes in ornate and calligraphy style that we know as gothic or Blackletter.

Simon: You wouldn’t expect to read a book in this style today?

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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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