The application of typography to or into image
Often, typography isn’t present in my work. Either that or it is an afterthought. Which it shouldn’t be. So I was excited to spend some time working with my current idea and typography before getting anywhere near the final outcome. I wanted to focus mostly on typography that reminded me of the industrial nature of the city that is Southampton so I selected extracts from both Spike Island by Phillip Hoare and Owen Hatherly’s New Ruins.
Before starting to experiment visually with my chosen words and sentences, I felt it necessary to carefully select typefaces that were relevant to what I was trying to convey. I therefore chose typefaces that had industrial aesthetics, being geometric, bold, and strong (some of which are pictured below). Almost trying to envision these letterforms in their many typefaces as concrete brutalist structures.
Despite being really prepared for the workshop, with all my typefaces and words, and sentences printed out in various sizes, I found it difficult to grasp what I was meant to be doing. Yes, I was meant to be experimenting with typography as image but having been shown examples of how other artists, illustrators and designers do this, I felt myself just replicating their technique with no relevance to my goals. Thus my initial tests were unsuccessful and not very considered. I didn’t know why I presented them this way or even why I mounted them onto images of my cardboard structures as backgrounds. The workshop after all was “type as image” and I soon realised I needed to focus more on this.
I took a step back from what I had created at that moment in time to really think about my initial industrial type ideas and realised that out of my initial experiments one had been successful. Despite not understanding why I mounted it on an image, I really liked the way I fragmented the type and arranged it in a way that made me think of the way buildings are often pictured in skylines. What I had created, reminded me of Katie Scott’s playful use of type and how her illustrations mirrored the typographic curves and worked with the text because what I had done was manipulated the text by cutting it up to become an image.
The technique of fragmenting my text and recollaging was one that I realised I could continue to use and develop and my first thoughts jumped to the work of Cecil Touchon who does exactly that. The act of cutting and reassembling the text in Touchon’s work made me focus more of the intricate shapes that are left as a result of taking away other parts of the letterforms. Due to my focus being on the industrial nature of Southampton that I was trying to convey, thus focusing on bold geometric forms, I reminded myself El Lissitsky’s constructivist posters, where there are clean cut lines and shapes.
With this is mind, I decided to continue fragmenting my typefaces and shifting them, pulling them apart, turning them upside down, combing them and creating new forms. I thought these were successful because I had somehow created these new forms, much like Cecil Touchon, that I started thinking of as a new basis for creating my cityscapes.
I also used my mark making skills from my previous experimentation and wondered what my new letterforms would be like to draw using a brush and ink and the end result were shapes that reminded me of hieroglyphics.