20 January 2015

Street Type

Typography, or as most people would refer to this art form, lettering, is ubiquitous within our contemporary society
The words and numbers engaged everywhere that our eyes may settle are primarily intended for visual communication. 
These forms are vehicles for information whether from a practical sense or for a more abstract purpose.

Typography has become a vehicle for post modernist design over the past 30 years.  
Some may say that this style of typography it is not intelligible, not legible and therefore a pointless exercise. 
Others may just enjoy looking at the letterforms as a visual object that communicates a notion on a more expressive or emotive level rather than an analytical, immediate, objective level.

These pages show some examples of street type that have not started out as an exercise of postmodern thinking…
but haves found themself distorted into something other than their original intent.

Looking at the letterforms of most alphabets (dreadful script fonts do not count) one can find the perfect form and balance that has been inspired nature; 
the perfect balance between negative and positive spaces.  
All of these observations help one’s sensibilities in appreciating the world around us, in all its forms (2D, and 3D).

The following paragraph from '100 ideas that changed Graphic Design' written by Steve Heller and Veronique Vienne addresses Street type in the form of street slogans. 
What we read in a distracted state, while crossing the street, for example, is not necessarily less memorable.  
In fact, what we see with our peripheral vision might be more striking, because it is perceived by receptor cells in the eye that are more sensitive to black and white figures and to unexpected motion. 
Furtive slogans scrawled on walls, plastered on top of scaffolding, or stenciled on the sidewalk are just as likely to be seen as colourful advertisements prominently located at the center of our field of vision.”
Idea No.87 from '100 Ideas that changed Graphic Design'.

Because this area of the visual world is so important to us all, there exists many different opinions and theories and practitioners. 
All these thoughts are valid if they assist us in coming to some understanding of what we are looking at and how it affects us. 
Willi Kunz, an important German typographer, wrote a wonderful book entitled ‘Formation + Transformation’, and the following passage comes from said publication,
“Regardless of what style (of typography) is pursued, an important criterion in evaluating a design is clarity. 
Good typography is clear typography.  
The designer’s intent must be immediately clear and the design must speak with an unmistakable, clear voice that penetrates today’s clamorous visual environment”.

The video below is a wonderful example of what Kunz has stated. 
Type must communicate. 
Typography must adds value to our world and not be yet another piece of visual rhetoric that contributes to the confusion that surrounds us. Street typography from Tom Williams