The team from Google Fonts joined me to draw along with a Virtual London Type Safari. We explored the culture and history of a vibrant area in East London, discovering the secrets hidden in the signs over shops, pubs and buildings.
Some of the signs have been hidden for decades and tell stories about the area’s rich history. Many reflect the fashions of different eras—the 1800s, the 1920s, the 1970s and today. Some are practical and utilitarian, others are painted by hand. Look a little closer and many have revealing telltale characteristics for you to spot.
We paused at each sign to do a quick four-minute sketch of its letters. Each sign was paired with a song to bring its atmosphere to life. There were also sniffables and a surprise London-themed snack for one of the participants to try on-camera.
I’ve been creating immersive and multisensory installations for a number of years now. They’ve been on hold during Covid but plans are now underway for the future. This is the large-scale multisensory installation I created at Adobe MAX at the L.A. Convention Centre in Los Angeles.
Visitors were immersed in the mood of different typefaces through all of their senses. At each station they were invited to put on headphones, to smell a scent in a jar or by flipping the pages of a book, to eat a small taster and to feel a texture. Each set of stimuli was designed to bring a mood to life in the participant’s imagination. There was curiosity and intrigue as the first visitors arrived and they were soon returning with groups of friends saying “you have to try this”.
“The experience that Type Tasting designed for the Adobe Fonts booth at Adobe MAX was such a fun, intriguing way for people to explore how their reactions to fonts relate to other sensations” Dan Rhatigan, Adobe Fonts
Sound designer Rob Taliesin Owen created bespoke sounds and a bespoke scent was created by 4160 Tuesdays. The installation was produced and run with the wonderful Adobe Fonts team.
“Font ‘tasting’, it was awesome! You could smell, hear and taste the fonts”
“Welcome to Sunday Brunch Live, Sarah welcome back to the show…”
I love being the occasional typography expert for Sunday Brunch, Channel 4 Television’s live TV show here in the UK. It’s always an exciting opportunity to share my type-themed games and demonstrations with a mainstream audience, which is something I’ve specialised in since launching Type Tasting.
Knowing that well over half a million people watch each show really gets the adrenaline pumping while I’m sitting in the green room watching the time counting down. It’s a very surreal feeling. But the presenters are absolutely brilliant at making the guests feel relaxed—I think that’s their superpower. When my very first appearance was about to start, presenter Simon Rimmer leaned over and whispered “I love typography” to me with a big smile. This turned my nerves into enthusiasm, and you can tell that we were having fun when you watch.
Presenters Simon and Tim Lovejoy have joined me for font sniffing, to chat about how menus can influence your appreciation of a meal and I’ve analysed their personalities from their font choices. I’ve talked about type trends in popular culture and where they come from. There are always lots of props and visuals. It’s fun preparing the content because the graphics team at the production company get excited about creating the visuals for the segment. After all, it’s all about typography!
It’s fascinating to see behind the scenes of live television and to know just how much goes into creating a show. I was surprised to discover that the studio’s pretty small and not the spacious environment I used to imagine when I watched. The table for my interviews is right on the edge of the kitchen, so I wait very quietly for the cooking to end and hope my stomach doesn’t decide to growl from the smell of the food. Then I have to tiptoe quietly out of the studio as soon as my segment ends. The adrenaline shakes are setting in at that point so I have to be extra careful not to trip over cables and duck under lights carefully so I don’t knock them out of position. It’s interesting to see how different people calm their nerves in the green room beforehand, especially the really famous guests who must have done this so many times.
Thank you to my expert friends who help with the content. Especially beer writer Pete Brown for the beer label history and Pixel Press for loaning their stunning tray of “slab serif case number 7” letterpress wood type.
I look forward to popping up on television again soon, maybe on Sunday Brunch again.
Are you looking for a unique gift for the graphic designer in your life? Or someone who loves typography? Are you searching for an unusual Secret Santa gift? Visit the Type Tasting Typography Emporium for a range of items created for font fans young and old. These are all designed by Sarah Hyndman and published by Type Tasting.
Vouchers • T-shirts • Cards • Books • Zines
(More items will be added over the next few weeks, get in touch if you have a request).
Exclusive Type Tasting t-shirts. Designs range from puns and ampersands to asterisk snowflakes and secret messages hidden in Letraset-inspired designs. The t-shirts are 100% organic cotton printed by Teemill in the UK in a renewable energy-powered factory. Worldwide shipping is available.
Send an exclusive typetastic card. The ampersand and asterisk cards are the current top sellers. Printed in the UK by Thortful with worldwide shipping on premium quality paper stock with a premium grey GF Smith embossed envelope. “Everything is lovely about them. Even the envelopes” Theo.
Passive Aggressive Fonts Typographic colouring book for adults By Sarah Hyndman
Colour your fonting frustrations away. Vent your vexations colouring a confrontation of snarky fonts. Exorcise your exasperations as you creativity the heck out of an antagonism of tetchy typefaces. Scribble your way through a clamour of passive aggressive phrases. Including those classic fonts you love to hate.
Typography time machine gift vouchers Draw & learn online workshop series Series gift voucher £40 / £190
Curious to know why there are so many typefaces? Intrigued by where the different styles come from? Fonts are like magical time machines. They transport you to different times and places. They conjure up stories of decadence, revolutions, transformation and ingenuity.
T-shirts, birthday cards and colouring books for the young dinosaur fans in your life. They’ll learn to recognise the letters in each dinosaur’s name with fonts matched to the personality of the each prehistoric creature. Fontosaurs evolved from a typographic collaboration between Sarah and her then 12-year-old nephew Eddie.
Typography Time Machine drawings shown (left to right, top to bottom). Terrific Tuscans drawings are by Olivia Krawczyk, @minarama, Sarah Wilson, Mina Bach, @stircreativenz and Kat Gaska. Book to Poster drawings are by Amy Muddle, @typographHer, @minarama, @jenna_b_design, @nicewriting, @thecreativeapes, @Jenna_b_design and @mycolourfullife.online. Sans (Serif) Seekers drawings are by Jenny Monds, Kat Gaska, @stonkingfidosetc, Olivia Krawczyk, Jitka Hrůzová.
Kerning is a geeky typography term for the spacing between individual letters. There are lots of examples of when kerning goes wrong with unfortunate and amusing results. One of my near-misses was when I set the words FLICK THE PAGES on a scented book for an exhibition. I realised just in time that the close spacing between the L and I looked more like a U. Oops.
The three typefaces that feature on the Kern Baby Kern t-shirt were available as rubdown Letraset sheets. Chromium One was designed by David Harris in 1983. This was perfect for a decade of chrome and airbrushed posters. Shatter is an experimental typeface designed by Vic Carless in 1973. Carless literally smashed Helvetica up, which is what Punk did to Modernism in the 1970s. Piccadilly was designed by Christopher Matthews in 1973—this neon font is pure 1970s disco.
These are unisex t-shirts in regular men’s sizes (different colours and styles can be arranged on request). They’re printed on a 100% organic cotton t-shirt and printed in the UK in a renewable energy-powered factory. Worldwide shipping available.
Not-to-be-missed interactive, funny and fantastical live events. Sarah’s on a mission to make typography exciting for everybody by inviting you to take part in games and demonstrations so you can make the discoveries for yourself.
Come along to this fun and irreverent online event with author Sarah Hyndman. Join in with games from her bestselling book Why Fonts Matter. She’ll answer as many of your questions as possible, no questions are too silly or too strange!
Ideal for beginners, students and anybody curious about reading fonts. We’re all font consumers in our everyday lives. Sarah will show you that you’re already an expert, even if you don’t realise it.
WHO’S THAT FONT? Tuesday 14th September, 7pm to 8pm (BST) Do fonts have personalities? Which would you date, ditch or just be friends with? What does a font reveal about your personality?
DO FONTS SMELL? Tuesday 28th September 7pm to 8pm (BST) What might different fonts smell like and what memories do they evoke? Can a font make your jellybean taste different? How do fonts interact with all your senses? Bring a matching pair of jellybeans for an experiment. £1.99 per person, only 25 tickets. Book here
Once you’ve purchased your ticket you’ll be sent the Zoom details. Please tell your friends, let’s have some fun.
Are you ready to immerse yourself in the fantastical world of fonts?
Many of you know about (and share) my love of Letraset—the sheets of rub-down lettering that often featured the fashionable fonts of the day. The first gig I went to was with my friend Caryl to see David Bowie. He was the soundtrack to our teenage years. My school books were adorned with meticulous drawings of lettering from his record covers. I was so excited when I found the Hunky Dory title typeface, called Zipper, as a sheet of Letraset. Now I could make my books look like Bowie merch with the official Hunky Dory font.
Your t-shirt is inspired by that sheet of Letraset. Letters have been removed to leave a secret message on your shirt. They spell out Hunky Dory, David Bowie, Changes, Life on Mars and 1971. (Geeky detail: the second ‘1’ in 1971 is made from a deconstructed ‘T’ because Letraset sheets don’t always have enough of the characters you need).
This is a question I’ve been asking recently. Thank you for all your great answers, keep them coming.
Maybe it’s “I want to use more trending fonts” or “I want to know what font rules I can break, so I can have fun with fonts” or even “My teacher wants a simple design that is typeset in Arial. Is there any way I could secretly drop in another font without them noticing?”.
I recognise many as problems I had earlier in my career, when I also shared your feelings of anxiety and frustration.
By sharing your problems you’re joining me in my mission to change the way we think and talk about typography by making it exciting for everybody. Let’s all go from “overwhelmed” to “empowered”.
I’ll pick one a week to answer. You’ll also be helping me to make sure my books and workshops are really useful for you.
These are some of the problems you’ve written to me about, how many of them resonate with you?
“Finding the right fonts for client’s websites” • “I want to use more trending fonts” • “My teacher wants a simple design that is typeset in Arial. Is there any way I could secretly drop in another better font without them noticing?” • “How to choose the best font” • “I love fonts, but never know when to use serif or non-serif ones—what should guide this decision?” • “I’m struggling to find a consistent font theme for my sector” • “I can’t decide” • “I want to know what font rules I can break, so I can have fun with fonts”.
How these make you feel
“Screaming” • “Disoriented” • “Old fashioned and stuck” • “Overwhelmed about how to start” • “Frustrated” • “Unsure” • “Frustrated, apprehensive (did I get it right?) & unconfident” • “Anxious that the font we select may not resonate” • “Frustrated” • “Curious”.
How you would like to feel about choosing typefaces?
“Happy” • “Relaxed” • “Free” • “Successful and able to more clearly communicate” • “Really happy” • “Empowered & confident (& thus relaxed!)” • “A lot more confident” • “Empowered” • “Joyous”.