Sep 28, 2011

TREND| Contemporary Typography

Mr. Marley, Chris Wicks, 2010
Until recently, most people and designers considered type as a mere accessory. It was something to convey a message that the image might not have revealed. Advertisements relied on the image to speak for itself and put hardly any emphasis on the typeface used. However, we can see that in the last decade, the contemporary art world has been exposed to seeing text as an art form and it's weaving its way into our culture.


Looking through the Communication Arts magazine's past 50 years of designs, it can be observed that text doesn't really start being it's own entity until the early 2000's. The designs in previous years are almost entirely devoted to the emotional response to an image and either use a logo or a bold/black typeface to reference the point of the image. However, after the early 2000's we start to see a trend; the backgrounds of designs/advertisements get cleaner and focus on simplicity, making text the focal point. Currently we have begun to see type as not only the message but as the image as well.

Left: TBWA\Chiat\Day, Thom Yorke-Grammy Typographic Portraits, 2009
Middle:  Chris Wicks, Lyric Portrait 2nd Attempt, 2009
Right: tailormade, Scarlett Johansson- Type Face, 2009-2011
One of the ways designers have used text as an art form is by creating images out of words or phrases using similar or different sizes and styles of fonts as shown in Scarlett Johansson- Type Face. However, this can be taken a step further by incorporating the use of color to make the image more realistic. Typographic portraits were used in the media for Grammy nominee's shown in the image above left. The campaign was meant to show how the lyrics in their songs were apart of who they are as artists. From big media campaigns to dishware found at Target, there are some designs that are more intricate than others but regardless of simplicity, has woven itself into our everyday life. The design for the dishware; a city-scape composed of type that describes the city, is also replicated in a bedding set also sold at Target. Typographic portraits are moving out of the media and into art we hang in our homes, our comforters, and our dishware.

Left: Jacob Gilbreath, Conan O' Brien's Farewell Speech as a Typography Project,  2011
Top: djsoundwav,The Social Network- "Full Attention" (Kinetic Typography),  2010
Bottom: Marco Papale, Superstylin' -Kinetic Typography- Making of,  2009
The next revolutionary step in type as an art form started around 2005/2006 with kinetic typography. Kinetic type is commonly used to represent quotes from movies or in lieu of music videos (at least for type geeks like myself). Search "Kinetic Typography" on YouTube and prepare to be bombarded with bad interpretations as well as some spectacular works. Here's a video from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, as well as some of my favorites which quote: Pulp Fiction, V for Vendetta, The Social Network, and last but not least a high school presidential campaign. With these examples, we can see how type has invaded pop culture throughout at least the past six years. From remakes of Public Service announcements to music/movies to a high school presidential campaign, type has become something many people appreciate. (If you don't believe me, scroll down and take a look at the YouTube comments.) Based on my observations of YouTube and the people creating kinetic type, it seems that many of them were creating for a class if not for pleasure. This inserts a whole new aspect for kinetic type: the fact that it is being taught means that it holds importance in society today as apart of our culture that has a need to be learned.

QV Melbourne Wayfinding Graphics, 2009
My final observation regards environmental typography. Informational signs such as street signs or directions are becoming more innovative as far as color and even materials go. We have come to appreciate type as something beautiful in its own right and are satisfied because we can enjoy something that is out of the ordinary as we go through our day to day routine.The pictures above emphasize the impact text has in the QV Melbourne carpark.

The QV carpark required some wayfinding. What better way than to introduce a series of large scale directional and environmental graphics to one of the cleanest carparks in Melbourne. Each Typographic piece is individually hand painted on site overlaying the colours to produce a multiplied effect onto the brickwork. Each word is designed to fit into the exacting locations available on site providing visibility from the street as well as a welcomed use of colour on the underground levels.

As one of the cleanest carparks in the Melbourne, it's only fitting to add color to keep from being classified with other dark and dingy carparks.

I have shown a series of pictures in my examples, but with this last example I leave you with a series of similar images. I do this to demonstrate what environmental type looks like and to challenge to find more; whether it be in the park, outside Starbucks, or on a street. Type is all around us and it's only beginning to be noticed by the untrained eye.

-Jennifer Wright

1 comment:

  1. In terms of what is "trending" right now, I do think you've hit the nail on the head with the mention of kinetic typography as I have seen more and more examples pop up over the last year. Also, I think that making the connection with the teaching of kinetic type in the classroom and its "trendiness" is a good one. However, I challenge you to research a little more about the purpose/presence of type in design. I would argue that type begins to play an important part in design and sometimes is the ENTIRE design as early as the turn of the 20th century. This can be seen in posters utilizing wood type. Although the design aesthetics of these posters are seen more in retrospect than they were intentional at the time, the style is often mimicked today. I would also encourage you to look at some Bauhaus design since they began manipulating type and incorporating in into their designs early on.

    -Alyshia Maynard

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