Sunday, 28 August 2016

Political Types

When you vote, you vote for the manifesto, the policies and not the person—or at least you should. Usually this doesn't go to plan and political parties are clicking onto this; with politicians becoming more of a brand than a person.

Trump gets it
Think of any brand you know, any brand you love—it has a particular typeface doesn't it?
Because words are how we decode the information around us, with fonts making the visual representation for all words around us. Typefaces and Fonts are the core for almost any branding structure, developing a sense of warmth, trust or safety in a brand; this is exactly why politicians embrace them so heavily.

Imagine Donald Trump's full campaign set in the god awful Amatic – which I've secretly used before – that wouldn't allow much trust his loyal minions. Trump is a man that sets his words in BOLD and SERIF because clearly he's strong and traditional, right? I mean, there aren't strictly any fonts that print Xenophobia that well.

Trump mostly sets his punchy messages in Akzidenz-Grotesk BQ Bold Extended a strong favourite of mine and the original G when it comes to sans-serifs. In the world of typography this font holds more weight that Trumps campaign in the swamps of Mississippi—described as The Snob's Helvetica by a certain Andrew Byrom.

And when he's not shouting that we should save veterans or build walls, he wants to inform you that he is the best way to make America Great Again! in a mix match of every font available to his small fingers. I can't quite nail down exactly which one because sometimes it's FF Meta and other times it Times New Roman but it's always with a fauxed sense of traditionalism and knowledge.

On the other hand, we have a black man. Barack Obama.
Just as he ends his term in office, he retires a surprisingly strong branding system backed with a spine built upon Gotham—a strong, alternative, modern sans typeface. For the man rising through the ranks, beating racism down with a strong manifesto and a highly notable wife; it couldn't be more fitting that the right font for the job shares the same name of the crime ridden metropolis that Bruce Wayne keeps in order. If you haven't got it yet, I'm comparing Obama to Batman—the original alternative hero.

Things are no different here in Britain either; we have strong branding for the innovators and we also have idiots hiding behind warm branding. 

But what if someone changed up  the formula, for good or for bad; made a politician as local, friendly, modern and relatable as they all try to be? What if someone who did this was someone I can't shut up about, someone I've spent good amounts of time with? What if they were Swedish? What if this was done by PJADAD?

C'mon you had to have seen this coming.

They saw it coming
In 2009, when I was merely a young boy (15) PJADAD was working hard creating a political branding system; for the CUF (Centerpartiets ungdomsförbund). A system aimed at the youth of Sweden, it employed comical noses, bright greens and as always a strong sand-serif. They described their system as a trojan horse, working it's way into not just displaying the political party but creating a link between voter and politician, a unifying item.

With the green nose supporting a clear link to the wild and colourful branding of the party, it was a clear sign that someone supported the party and when worn created a sense of obvious unity in ideology, like a trainspotters badge collection or a memorial poppy.
The idea of obvious unity of thought isn't new but is effective; even Trump caught onto this one.

You know them Swedes know whats up.
I know this final bit has nothing to do with their choice of typeface, but although type was a prominant part of my message here it's not the whole story. All these politicians chose to represent themselves through various typefaces because of the connotation of the imagery of their words. PJADAD's branding was no different but instead of the typeface being the masthead for their communication they used relative humour and human connection.

Their use of typeface for brand reinforcement and the development of a clear visual connotation both proves and disproves my point. Their words display who they are, but the visual link their followers embrace defines what they see.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Stranger Things are happening

It seems that the world is currently mad for another TV show; but their are Stranger Things at work with this one. (geddit?!!!)

It may be 2016 but it seems that the whole world is obsessed with the 1980's, fairy lights and quite strangely, a Parisian 'Art Nouveau' serif. As is always with TV show trends, I try to distance myself from them, as although I don't doubt that it makes for great watching, I just don't feel that need to fit into the current 'hype' for whatever is currently exciting and 'life changing'.

I've seen Game of Thrones come and go and I watched Breaking Bad about 4 years after everyone forgot about it—through all these shows I could see people sharing excitement, screen caps and theories on how the plot might pan out; drawing in everyone's interest like a Netflix Blackhole. This is how those shows exist and how their popularity grows, to which Stranger Things is no different. I know of it's existence because of my friends and I feel a sense of recognition when I see that lovely type appear.

The point I have here is, you likely came to this post because you saw the title-card in the thumbnail, or read the name in that font we've all come to know so well. This show has flipped the standard hype train on it's head. Nobody is sharing images on Winona Ryder, they all want a bit of that sexy lettering. They all want their name to look like it's just burst out of an original Lucas Arts production.

Everywhere I look I can see peoples names, business and mottos spelt out in a soft glowing serif—ITC Benguiat to be specific. It seems that every word looks pretty in this lettering style and as hard as I try, I just cannot make it look ugly. Even the ugliest phrase I could think of still looked pretty swell. (see below)

I couldn't think of a more ugly sentence than this

The reason why I'm waling on about this is because it's a massive change in the market to see fans resonating with a typeface; with lettering rather than  a character, an actor or various quotes. From day to day everyone sees typefaces and has their own favourite and least-favourite fonts whether they study design or not; but this little piece ingenious branding has captivated the average person to lust over type like I've never seen before.

It's not everyday you see the world obsessing over typefaces, looking at letterforms like beautifully crafted structures—just how I see them. It's a fine and dandy moment when you see great design become recognised, but when the design is just right and it captures the ideals of all the gleaming eyes of the Netflix audience; it's a real thing of beauty. 

Promotion for a TV show doesn't often hinge so strongly on a typeface alone, but with a bit of effort, some talented designers and what looks like really strong script writing; the world could care that little bit more about type design.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

We're going through changes

Remember that terrible cover Ozzy did with his daughter? Yeah I wish I could forget.

Well as shite as it is, it's poignant to what I'm trying to convey. As Ozzy so shamelessly tells us from his ornate arm chair, 'we're going through change-eee-ereees', once again reiterated by a melancholy Kelly; what a lovely blog post this is shaping up to be ey?

Well, we are going through changes and as a recent graduate none more than myself. As a side result of these changes, this blog and my work are feeling the chain reaction of these movements.
When I started this blog, it was way before university under recommendation of my cousin and was just a proving ground for me to start confidently analysing and critiquing my own work, despite the fact it was all around the same quality as Trump's political campaign.

Upon reaching university, I grabbed my defibrillators and shocked this blog back into action; using it as a platform to display the work I was producing weekly in university and the bits of freelance I was doing on the sides. This worked as a solid formula for me—I could share, destroy, praise and laugh at my work; alongside post random crap every now and then.

Now, as I've changed I've realised this needs to change with me. No longer can I just post works in progress or the second I've completed them. I'm still working at the same rate of production I always have been, but now, the work I create has copyright issues and would likely upset employees if I was debuting them before they could. You can likely agree it's become a much trickier field than before when I could just whack something on paper and share it with you all.

Along with the rules of the work changing, the actual content I wanted to post changed too. I found as I read more, I wanted to write more and with an ever growing footing in the design industry I no longer needed to post every piece of work in hopes of scoring myself future projects. I found I liked arguing with the status quo, I liked pissing all over Helvetica and I've loved the conversations I started in response to my words. Shoutout to Robbie Scott – my friendly devil's advocate.

Couldn't find a suitable GIF so have a hip-hop reference
Now I've listed every possible variable, every change and everything ever; let's look at how this works for me. As everything changes arounds me, it's only suiting for me to adapt—design has never stood still and anyone that twiddles their thumbs at last years 'trends' is quite likely to fall off the train. Arriving at my door this week was my degree certificate; my poorly signed, soon-to-be-framed ticket to the train of multidisciplinary momentum.

As far as I can tell, design has never changed but it's always in constant development. All the concepts are the same and it's always going to stand to be a mixture between concept and visualisation; art for a purpose if you will. The point with highlighting these changes is to shine the light in the face of the obvious, nearing future. 

I've always described myself as a sponge, and changing has just become nature when it's part of your fibre; your learning and existence. I want to change this blog's platfrom, it's contents and it's structure—this might just happen but for the moment it's just part of the whirlwind that is my leap into a post-graduate existence. It's like hyper-puberty for full grown creative adults.

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