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Home Explore One To Five - St Bride Library's 125th Anniversary

One To Five - St Bride Library's 125th Anniversary

Published by Chris, 2022-05-04 13:50:50

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A publication dedicated to print, design and typography St Bride Library’s 125th Anniversary Issue Issue No.1 2021


elcome to the rst edition of St Bride, a publication dedicated to celebrating the St Bride Foundation as an independent cultural institute which cares for an internationally significant collection covering print, design and typography whilst working with the creative industries locally, nationally and internationally. This special publication aims to celebrating St Bride Library’s 125th anniversary and in doing so future-proofing its collections for another 125 years. St Bride Library has one of the world’s most remarkable and irreplaceable collections of books, archives and artefacts documenting and celebrating the history of print and design. It tells the story of print, providing creative inspiration for the communities of designers, printers, artists and the public who bring life to the building and library collections. Amongst its unique treasures, our library houses rare 15th century books printed by William Caxton, original woodblocks by Robert Gibbings, artwork for Edward Johnston’s London Underground designs and scale models for Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir’s UK road signage. It holds over 200 special collections and many physical objects from the history of printing and type-founding. This new quarterly publication is distributed and published by Eye Magazine Ltd and this rst edition is guest edited by John L. Walters. 4

Kris Sowersby A typeface is not a tool 9 Rick Poynor The Evolving Legacy of Ken 15 Garland Emily Gosling 25 Neville Brody on Navigating Graphic Design’s Shifting Identity Steven Heller Crimes Against Typography 39 Elizabeth Goodspeed 47 Traditional Elegance Meets Psychedelic Futurism in This Type Trend 5

Sarah Snaith 55 Wit, bad taste and loud type Victoria Rushton 61 Type and Gender Stereotypes Pedro Arilla 69 For the beauty of writing Phil Garnham 79 Variable is the spice of type Stuart De Rozario 95 To the point. Rachel Hardwick 105 The Big Typographic night out 6


Neville Brody on Navigating Graphic Design’s Shi ing Identity Words by Emily Gosling 25


eville Brody is a journalist’s dream. He has His studio, instead, doesn’t “just knock out pretty a well-honed knack for wryly provocative, solutions,” he says. “We grapple with strategy. We ask headline-ready takes on the design industry questions, and we go deep. English brand culture is that others would take hours to delineate. As one of quite di erent to that, isn’t it? [A client] will often bring the best-known graphic designer since the 1980s, he’s in brand consultants for extortionate amounts of money, adept at this sort of thing. Even those who haven’t heard then commission agencies to produce the more visual his name in the UK have de nitely seen his work: the stu —it’s like just buying assets.” He rmly believes typeface designed for Channel Four, websites for the that those two aspects are inseparable. BBC and The Guardian, not to mention his work with institutions like the RCA, Barbican, ICA and V&A. In Though Brody hasn’t always worked with huge global 2014, he designed the typeface for the England World brands, he’s certainly always been devoted to design Cup football kit. that’s rigorously underpinned with systems, strategies, and conceptual thinking with foundations in various art You can’t really get more visible and design histories. That’s true of his visceral, timeless than that. sleeve designs for Fetish Records; his Constructivist- learning, typographically experimental work for The But despite all this, the majority of Brody Associates’ Face; 1991’s Fuseproject, a disk-based magazine of clients hail from overseas. Part of that about the British new typefaces; or the Anti Design Festival in 2010. habit of willfully dismissing the successful in favor of We spoke to Brody—who’s currently a professor of blind devotion to the underdog (more on that later); Communication at the Royal College of Art, as well as and part of that comes down to what Brody sees as a heading up studio Brody Associates—earlier this year, UK culture that views designers as simply “providers and found the designer to be optimistic and excited of a service.” about his work, while also proclaiming that “graphic design is dead.” 27

Tear Up The Plans: Revolution Peace + Love, 2007 - Neville Brody’s contribution to the V&A’s 150th anniversary album 28

When you look back on things like your early record sleeve designs, and The Face, how has that “punk” mindset carried through in the way you’ve approached design throughout your career? I linked [punk] to Dadaism. It was all about dangerous ideas and dangerous thinking: the need to constantly have a vigilant, questioning approach to everything. It’s not based on a whim. There’s a line of heritage that started o with a kind of “big bang”: When photography arrived in the mid to late 19th century, it liberated art from having to replicate reality. Portraiture suddenly became purely an elite extravagance. What comes out of that [in art] is a quest for raison d’etre. There was no need for art to uphold the status quo any more. Then out of that big bang comes Impressionism, Expressionism, Dadaism. They were saying that art should always be the conscious inquisitor: it should be re ecting the underbelly of society, not the vanity of society. That was a huge shift. “The punk thing, for me, was an extension of Dadaism’s line of cultural questioning—we don’t have to accept traditional structures and traditional society.” 29

Dadaism branches out in futurism—unfortunately, I’m not interested in those eras for nostalgic reasons— that became fascism—then you have Constructivism it’s because I still think there’s ideas in there that are so coming out of that. Aligned with the Bauhaus, it inspirational. The attitude is the most important thing. looked to a hopeful future that belongs to scientists, So the punk thing, for me, was just simply another architects, designers, artists, and visionaries. extension of that line of cultural questioning—we don’t have to accept traditional structures and traditional society. Neville Brody’s visual identity redesign for Punk London 30

Did you have a conscious plan for your career? The “You can’t sort of brands you work with now are obviously stand on di erent to, say, designing Cabaret Voltaire sleeves. the fringe There’s a couple of dilemmas at the heart of a graphic and have designer: How do you do socially conscious and challenging work, and eat, without getting a job impact. as a barista? And secondly, how do you make an If you’re impact by standing on the fringe? The answer to the second question is you can’t stand on the fringe on the and have impact. You either have to move society outside, to where you are at the center, or you have to move you will to the center of society. If you’re on the outside, you will never change anything. I always knew that never somehow I had to have my work seen. In a way, the change record cover work was more challenging than the anything.” work on The Face. In what way? It was experimenting with imagery, with typography at a much earlier stage. The Face turned out to be a platform that allowed me to move to the center of what was happening and be more visible, and in uence the thinking of more people as a result. It was a conscious vehicle in a way. For the rst two or three years The Face work was really seen as quite challenging. After that, it was seen as quite trendy. That was nothing I’d ever wanted, which is why I stepped out. Society absorbs enough of the DNA of the challenge into itself to render it impotent and harmless. Things get neutralized very quickly. Quite ironically, going and doing Arena [he joined as designer for the magazine in 1986] was all about system building and creating uidity with systems, and that’s a cycle my studio is in again. 31

Did you envisage the path your career took when you rst started out? We could never have imagined the computer and what that would bring; or the periods of recession; or the near-bankruptcy in the past. When I had the [retrospective] exhibition at the V&A [in 1988], within six months, we were nearly bankrupt because none of our British clients would continue working with us and we couldn’t get any new ones. On the other hand, we were being contacted by organizations in Japan and Germany who actually saw beyond that and started commissioning us and since then, it’s been almost solely international work. In Britain, I think people tend to have strong feelings against people that have their names known. It’s a very obtuse way of championing underdogs, isn’t it? I think there’s something very British about hating people that raise their heads above the wall. The point of the exhibition really was to expose people to di erent thinking or di erent ideas—it wasn’t about vanity. 32

You can’t really have a vanity project Graph at the V&A… Desi Exactly. And the rst book [The Graphic Language of Neville Brody, by Jon Wozencroft, published to coincide with the 1988 exhibition] was all about driving people to the ideas and the text—the visuals were gateways to the thinking behind them. When artists and designers in the early 20th century had shows, like the Dadaists, they weren’t taken as vanity, they were taken as outreach. The most important and fun thing that came out of all of that was Fuse project, which was, again, getting back to the common lineage of challenging culture, nding a conscious alternative. How do we create and think about new forms of language that really challenge and reveal our thinking? I still think there’s a huge amount of untapped potential with Fuse. We did want to extend it into other areas like music, product design, architecture…but we ran out of money and energy. To do things like that, and the Anti Design Festival, take so much work. It’s in the same lineage for me as The Face, as punk, as Richard Hamilton. Now, it’s probably manifested more in the teaching I do at the RCA. Can you tell me a bit more about that teaching approach? We’re not aware to the extent of how much our responses are conditioned. In our design practice, we tend to have go-tos built in. Life is hard, and work is often challenging, so we do tend to go to the lowest hanging fruit. We create a system where the students are being constantly shifted into unfamiliar spaces. They’re not given briefs as such, but they’re given prompts. 33

hic What might a prompt be? ign is It changes depending on who’s given the prompt, and dead. the context of the problems. Adrian Shaughnessy did one of the sessions for us, and his prompt was singularity. The students would have to de ne what their intention was, what the brief meant to them. Then, in a short time, they have to build something. We leave [design] as a very fragile, groundless space where the things that the students are familiar with collapse, because they’re not really relevant anymore. They have to develop new ways of thinking and new responses. We call the teaching at the RCA “post-discipline.” You’re simply a practitioner in communication. You might make a poster, or a sound piece; you might design a physical space, or write a novel. We’re trying to teach in such a way that your response is appropriate to the message you’re trying to communicate. “Graphic design is only really seen on Pinterest and Instagram.” It goes back to that “big bang” in art you were talking about—not adapting the message to the way you know how to deliver it, but shifting yourself to align with what you’re trying to communicate. I think we’re in a weird period: The headline would be “graphic design is dead.” But it sort of is in some ways, isn’t it? Graphic design is only really seen on Pinterest and Instagram. 34


When you say graphic design, what do you mean When you’re teaching your students, what sort of exactly? things are you preparing them to go into when they graduate? That’s exactly the right question. Companies tend to increasingly need user experience designers, Number one, be aware of the context in which you coders, programmers, and social media marketing work. Understanding a client’s perspective; the experts. It’s not so much about the logo, or the brand, social context; the political issues out there that or a poster or lea et—things in the physical world. you’re having to deal with—identity, empowerment, People don’t do direct mail anymore, except pizza biases—all of those necessarily have to become a delivery places. part of your conscious practice. It’s not someone going to university or art school, learning graphic You don’t get magazines, because design and guring out how to get a job at the end they’re all online. And they’re not of it. It’s more about what skills you need to navigate really designed anymore. this world where you need to be simply responding rather than controlling. Oh, that’s provocative. Some of the students will end up graduating in Well, it’s true, isn’t it? I mean, you’ll set up a template sound design, who joined as graphic designers; or and that’s it. It’s formulaic: you’re not designing each who came in as animators and graduated as type article independently. It’s all about the backend designers. Those old fashioned skill titles aren’t engineering and the frontend marketing. Graphic identities anymore. It’s not so much that graphic design then tends to nd itself more in books and design is dead; the graphic designer isn’t dead. But publishing. It becomes an industry in itself: graphic the nature of what we do has shifted so dramatically. design for graphic designers. It’s much more about empowering other people with visual tools than anything. I’m hopeful. I think the rst So it’s graphic design’s application on things that 100 years of graphic design, which probably started people interact with everyday that’s dead? with Dada, nished with Covid. Yeah, exactly. It’s much more about building the template for the platform, and building the toolbox for the visual language. It’s not about art directing a beautiful spread in a magazine anymore, because those magazines just aren’t there, and it’s not feasible to do that on the y in a digital environment, especially a digital environment that’s scalable across platforms. 36

Emily Gosling Emily Gosling is a freelance writer based in London, and currently editor-at-large at Elephant, having previously worked as both deputy editor and online editor at It’s Nice That and reporter and what’s on editor at Design Week. She specialises in graphic design, art, and music. 37

raditional Elegance Meets Psychedelic Futurism in This Type Trend “Jugend-ish” typefaces embody modern self-expression 47


What are you seeing? The ’90s are back. The 1890s, that is. Turn of the century inspired typefaces (we’re calling them “Jugend-ish”) are suddenly everywhere, bringing an often overlooked era into a new light. The trend is named for the similarity of these contemporary typefaces to the fonts that emerged from the German art magazine Jugend and the Jugendstil movement, a close cousin to the Art Nouveau and Viennese Secession movements happening in Britain and Austria around the same time. Jugend-ish typefaces are characterized by decorative ornaments, a mixture of curves and sharp corners, and forms inspired by nature. They are inherently contradictory, combining elegant high-contrast tapers with strange psychedelic blobs. Put more simply, they are weird for weird’s sake, but in the way only a typeface can be; breaking rules around conventions while still adhering to long-standing historical traditions of balance and symmetry. These Jugend-ish typefaces have been creeping up at the fringes of the design world over the last year, and in some ways could be seen as an evolution of rounded old-style faces like Cooper that have been dominating design since circa 2017 (see: Chobani’s now-ubiquitous rebrand, not to mention similar fonts in use for Great Jones, Poppi, Burger King, and Mailchimp). Cooper and Jugend-ish styles are both linked to type trends from the early 1900s, as well as to the resurgence of these trends again in the 1970s, but while chunky serifs prize boldness and legibility, Jugend-ish typefaces eschew clarity in favor of asynchronous decoration. 49

WWS‘TEAFAEHIORRKIERREDEYD’’S Eckmannpsych Typeface - a psychedelic adaptation of Otto Eckmann’s Eckmannschrift by James Edmondson 50

Who’s using it? This trend is a slow-burner, and its edge-case legibility means that the vast number of current uses are in editorial design and other one-o s, rather than more complex identity systems. That said, while the trend isn’t trickling down into branding too much just yet, type designers seem to be especially keen on the style, which means that we can probably expect it to start popping up in many more applications over the next few months or years. Some Jugend-ish display faces like Orkyd, Glyph World and the increasingly popular Eckmannpsych (a design rooted in Jugenstil era typeface Eckmann) are curvy and goopy, while others, like Monarch Nova and the recently released Lovechild, are more rigid with subtle curves interspersed more discerningly. Kaspar Pyndt’s forthcoming typeface Hieroglyf is another unique Jugend-ish entry, developed for use in an exhibit on the painters of Danish Symbolism at The National Gallery of Denmark, and inspired by a drawing tutorial-booklet owned by many of the painters included in the show which featured a distinctive Jugendstil masthead. Outside of type design, Jugend-ish typefaces seem to be especially popular in the music world, where readability is secondary to vibes, and clearly written titles can feel redundant within streaming services that already list album information in an interface’s simple sans. A few examples from 2021 include Lorde’s Solar Power, Tinashe’s Pasadena, and Marina’s Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land. 51

Why do designers love it? To put it simply: everyone is sick of #blanding. Stephen Coles, associate curator at Letterform Archive, Understated grotesks de ned the early direct-to- emphasizes this constant ebb and ow between trends, consumer era, and designers are ready to inject more pointing out that personality into their work. While chunky serifs were the initial response by those looking to combat 2010s “Jugendstil was a reaction to Modernism, type designer Simon Walker believes that industrialization, Psychedelic Jugend-ish faces have a 1960s, a response to Swiss Modernism, and the current wave “broader, more universal appeal of Jugend-ish a response to every than those ’70s-era rounded company changing their logo to a typefaces, which feel a bit more geometric sans.” rooted in a specific time and place—one that we’re maybe Said another way, just as Gen-Z is back to posting true setting aside for now.” candids on Instagram, the design industry’s focus on restraint and commercial viability is giving way to an From a technical standpoint, Jugend-ish typefaces also infatuation with personal style and authenticity. seem to be a perfect mid-point between the deadpan readability of simple sans and chubby serifs (you may Type designer Kasper Pyndt theorizes that this recall that Comic Sans, not too dissimilar from Cooper, interest in typographic quirks may have even more is adored by elementary teachers everywhere for young philosophical roots for contemporary designers. “One readers) and the more digital-unfriendly script logos could speculate that quirks—or ‘ aws’—function to of brands past. As screen resolution and consumer question the traditions and conventions that have shaped type design in the 19th century,” he says. “This uency with branding improve, it’s possible that there’s would mirror the current reckoning with lingual and more support for typographic approaches that push behavioral norms in the world at large—what we’ve boundaries, and contrast, a bit more. previously seen as ‘truth’ may not indeed be so.” It’s a good reminder that while the design world can seem Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction, and insular, it’s just another re ective microcosm (at times in the case of design, the pendulum seems to swing a bit ahead of the curve) of the shifts happening in between minimalist and maximalist, energetic and society at large. In the case of Jugend-ish typefaces austere, tradition and anarchy. and the impending post-Covid renaissance, our future seems likely to include both a look back to our history and the natural world as well as a look forward to a bold and futuristic approach to self expression. 52

Elizabeth Godspeed Elizabeth Godspeed is an independent, multidisciplinary designer and art director working between Providence and New York. She’s a devoted generalist but specializes in idea-driven and historically inspired brand identity projects working as well as editorial design, packaging, and art direction. 53

Type Gend Stytepreeso- 61

der - words by Victoria Rushton

Here's the deal with describing type or lettering as feminine or masculine: o

o 't This is my simple request. If you already have an inkling about why this might be an issue and think it’s a reasonable request you can handle, awesome, no homework for you today. But if not, take my hand.

o, “feminine” can be taken to mean “stereotypical Stereotypes are a poor choice for describing letters. At of women” and “masculine,” “stereotypical of best they’re vague and careless, and at worst they’re men,” agreed? These ideas, go gure, are utterly perpetuating harmful, false ideas about how di erent expansive and varied within and across cultures. But genders have innately di erent capabilities. (Yes, I there are some themes. know, people tend to casually gender lots of objects. That doesn’t make it okay.) Words commonly associated with femininity include emotional, And surprise: as far as I can tell, “feminine” and submissive, quiet, graceful, passive, “masculine” don’t actually seem to mean anything weak, sensitive, nurturing and so . when we’re talking about fonts. For example, fonts tagged “feminine” on MyFonts are just a weird grab Words commonly associated with bag. Seriously, I don’t even wanna bother describing masculinity are aggressive, tough, the variety. If “feminine” means scripts and sans and loud, independent, strong, clumsy, serifs with no discernible similarities, does it mean self-confident, experienced, and anything at all? No. Something you hear a lot is that competitive. “curvy” type is supposedly feminine. This is pretty uncool for two reasons. The rst is that Putting aside the fact that it can be they’re presented to us as opposites, which enforces manly to have curves too, hi have the restrictive and false idea that a gender binary exists. you ever seen type? The second is that the majority of the adjectives we associate with femininity paint their subject as ine ective It’s. Literally. Almost. All. Curves. or frail, and the majority of the adjectives we associate with masculinity are powerful and favourable. Society Something else you hear a lot is “make this more bold has a nasty habit of using “feminine” as a pejorative and less feminine” or “this is feminine but strong.” Think touting “masculine” as a compliment. Using the word about what this says we think of femininity, about how “feminine” while it connotes powerlessness or using we consider it less valuable. “masculine” while it connotes importance contributes to bias against women, and sets up arbitrary standards There is no type that is objectively feminine or objectively that people of every gender should not have to feel masculine. Give it up, already. pressured to conform to. 65

You can say it’s: loopy, whimsical, sturdy, ornamental, angular, snappy, jumpy, impenetrable, flowing, uptight, sniveling, hungover, rapturous. 66

Turns out there are a lot of other words you can use! quinoa… You can say it’s loopy, whimsical, sturdy, ornamental, with kid angular, snappy, jumpy, impenetrable, owing, uptight, sniveling, hungover, rapturous. This just in: words rock are fun. Instead of “girly,” think of what you really mean, and instead say, “has lots of swashes.” Instead of “masculine,” try calling it “heavy” or “literally looks like rocks.” Get to the point, instead of using loaded words with irrelevant connotations. It’s not enough to call a font feminine and then say, “I meant it as a compliment!” Maybe you did, sure, but words come with backstories and contemporary contexts. You don’t get to use a stereotype and then decide you only meant the good stu , it doesn’t work that way. And it doesn’t matter if you think it’s “just e cient shorthand,” or “a broad term that can be useful in some contexts.” Gendering things that are genderless does harm by keeping ideas around that hold everyone to stupid, rigid standards. Altering your habits just a little bit is a minuscule price to pay to make the world all the more understanding and inclusive. You can do it. 67

One of the things they tell me is really cool about Victoria Rushton making type is seeing it used successfully in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Maybe you made a “no- Victoria Rushton was trained as a type designer at Font bullshit” text face that it turns out works great for a Bureau, where learnt to design and develop fonts. Now book of poetry. Maybe you made a brushy script that she has her own foundry and TypeNetwork where she got turned into… quinoa… with Kid Rock. Maybe you works with some of her old colleagues from Font Bureau. made a revival of something that graphic designers She went to RISD and studied illustration because over the years have sco ed at, but that people are now she loved to draw, but turns out the main thing she using in interesting contemporary work that wouldn’t wanted to draw was letters, and that’s how she nds have been possible without your stubborn love and herself here, writing this little blurb, and she’s really dedication. In the hands of a skilled designer, good glad you’re here too. type can do such exciting things. Why bother limiting people’s perceptions of a typeface’s utility by slapping a stereotypical label onto it? Whether we notice it or not, the words we use mold us, and we desperately need to continue to remold the way society regards femininity. And we can’t get there without stopping to reevaluate some of the things we’re casually saying. I don’t know about you, but I got into type design because I know that words matter. Let’s shape what happens next by choosing them thoughtfully. 68

St Bride Library cares for one of the world’s most remarkable collections of books, archives and artefacts documenting and celebrating the history of design and print, typography and papermaking. published by Eye Magazine Ltd

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