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Research

Updated: Mar 16, 2019


Within this blog post, my intention is to highlight the key points I've picked up on from my reading in and around the subject.



 


Don't get a job, make a job by Gem Barton:


Kevin Wilson, VIN + OMI

Throughout reading this book, I was struck by the strong words of wisdom flooding out from a wide range of different kinds of creatives. Such as this one from Kevin Wilson, who is one half of the fashion design duo, VIN + OMI.

"Look at what everyone else is doing and the other way - seriously."

Which, as strong as this point is, it's a little daunting and difficult to do but I guess you just have to be brave.






WAI Architecture Think Tank

Another great point, this time the WAI Architecture Think Tank quotes in saying...


"Innovate, experiment, question everything."



Tom Cecil, designer and engineer

This written passage from Tom Cecil, who is a British designer and engineer urges young creatives to


"Create things that reflect you."

It seems there is a real importance in channeling your creative energy into working towards something, and making ideas that are original.


Below are more snaps from my reading of the book, Don't get a job, make a job. Bottom-left is the poster of a short film series made by a studio called Glue Society which I plan to watch. Glue Society is a guild of collectives of whom, decided to do it themselves. This was (I guess, somewhat obviously) the theme throughout the book. Of creatives who either rolled straight into freelance work or after some unhappy years working for a large studio, took the plunge and made their own way in the creative industry. Sometimes by making the craft mobile, like the lovely folk at ice-cream architecture, who offered architectural services on the road.



Above-right though simply states...


"Having a great project that you can show to people when you graduate is massively important"

That goes without saying really, but he also explains how he would...


"Recommend giving yourself a financial cushion of a few months if you can, as it means you're starting under less pressure... and probably helps you to assess where you're going more clearly."

Interesting. I suppose it all comes down to financial state but I belive the message it to make sure you take your time and be patient both financially and in making yourself a new job.


Finally, going back to page just over half-way through before the Gusto chapter, is actually quite moving and even more motivating. Closing with...


"Have big ideas and don't be afraid of them. In fact, nurture your weirdest ideas, feed them, water them, and let them grow into wild and wondrous things that no one else could ever dream of."





 



Graphic Means a film by Briar Levit:


Graphic Means is a film I enjoyed immensely! Throughout and afterwards, I felt truly impressed by this great insight into a process that felt both familiar and yet still, extremely far away.


Film poster for Graphic Means

I was extremely stoked afterwards. Thanks to the introduction of a variety of new techniques which I'd be quite interested in trying. One of which being the Letraset process [shown-right] which is method of applying letters by simply pressing onto the desired glyph from your sheet onto another page. At this time it doesn't seem appropriate to my practice, but I'll keep it in mind thats for sure.






 


Two Types - The Faces of Britain:


As my research digressed into an area focusing on the work of Eric Gill, I came across this documentary on YouTube which was originally aired on BBC 4. 'Two Types - The Faces of Britain' dives into the contrasting histories of Eric Gill and Edward Johnston who designed, arguably the most popular British typefaces, respectively Gill Sans and Johnston.



Above are screen-grabs of the feature length doc. In which it talks of the London Undergrounds use of Johnston, which allowed for the identity of each station to be clear and easily visible amongst the flurry of handwritten advertisements cluttering walls at that time. Later they compare the differences between Johnston and Gill Sans. Similar but upon close inspection, visibly different.




Above here, more grabs. Firstly Johnston and Gill. Secondly, Gills now infamous works of art. After that [from left to right] is Eiichi Kono, the typographer who redesigned Johnston so it could thrive in the late 20th Century, much like its successor Gill Sans did...




 


Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman:


I read the entirety of Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman after seeing it referenced on a website I found called 'How fonts make us feel?' My initial interest in this area came from simply wanting to understand how typography works, in a way that successfully communicated with the reader. The interesting thing was that good type design does this supraliminally, so the message is expertly conveyed through the accurate use of appropriate letter forms and it's not trying trick you subliminally but the chances you wouldn't notice anyway, unless you wanted to.


The book included a huge variety of font theories and physical research experiments, which I made note of for later investigation. It also contained an extremely comprehensive list of references to other books, essays and some videos; which I of course also made note of.


A quote from the book which struck me most was early on in pg.25...


"In the future, as technology accelerates the pace of change, will typefaces transfer beyond recognition or will they continue to reflect these links to history and the printing techniques of the past?" - Sarah Hyndman

A brilliant question about the future of typography design. What will the next type revolution hold? Or will we simply keep moving forwards in a way that allows for this invisible art-form to live on for even longer.


[Above-right] an extract of the book which simply explains the idea for its content and then after that, a couple of the pages from the notes I made.



Below a list of some of most note-able things I learnt or liked:


• When John Kinnier and Margaret Calverts created Transport and Motorway, they not only pioneered the combined use of uppercase and lowercase letters (which was frowned upon at this point in the 60s), they also made life size models to test the new signs in underground car parks and on Hyde Park. The use of uppercase and lowercase letters was to make the signs more legible from a distance. It worked.


• This game Geoguessr lets you try and guess where you are in the UK based on the local typography and buildings surrounding you inside Google Maps [below].

It's extremely difficult

• Tom Nealon essay about how the Nicolas Jenson 'nailed it' when designing the typeface Johnson in the 1470s.


• The Beatrice Ward Essay 'The Crystal Goblet'. Written in 1930.


• The Monkey Business illusion [below].

This intriguing experiment explores the art of distraction

• A whole host of essays and experiments by Dr. David Lewis.


• In a 'type influence study', Clive Lewis and Peter Walker discovered that round shapes in letters were friendy, whilst jagged forms were aggressive and dangerous, so as letter forms would deter the viewer. This theory is backed up by our natural instincts to distance ourselves from danger. Does this explain the outrage towards the London 2012 logo?


• On page 61, we were informed that 'type can convince you that something might be easier to do', whereas a font more difficult to read might make a task seem more daunting.


• Dugan Laird noted in 1985 that what we learn is done 75% through seeing, 13% hearing and 12% through smell and taste. A later study by Charles Spence in 2009 then explains the theory of 'crossmodel processing', which is the idea that if you experience something with more than one of your senses engaged, it becomes more memorable.


• On-going research Sarah Hyndman about 'Sensory type'.


• Books by Steven Heller.


• The film 'Font Men' featuring Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones...

A wonderfully crafted (though a little basic) insight into their opinions and practice

Since reading Why Fonts Matter, I've been led onto a huge variety of different writings, which I now plan to uncover... These include essays in Font Psychology, The neuropsychology of word, font and handwriting perception, The Rhetoric of Typography: the persona of typeface and text and of course The Crystal Goblet by Beatrice Ward.


I've also started to develop an interest into Braille, as I'm curious as to how blind people experience type communication. I've got a book about sign language too which has started to interest, as too has questions surrounding the ways in which we are first taught about letters and writing. I guess this might be Graphology?


Concl.


After more casual reading, I've turned my focus towards interactive typography. I'm curious to explore ways in which we physically experience type design. This thought derived from an extract taken from Why Fonts Matter:

I'm curious. How do we respond to type in other forms?


 



3D Typography by Jeannette Abbink & Emily CM Anderson


A visually inspiring book, used as a reference (or more likely motivation) to create some experimental 3D works of my own. There were so many awe-inspiring pieces, I've decided to pick out a few of my favourite bits of type-fuel...

Miguel Ramirez created this typeface, called 'Love' using a matrix of tennis balls and the court fence.

Creative lettering by Zigzap Zombie

Letters doing what they say. An interesting method of product organisation

A complex data-driven piece by John Beckers. Based on urban subsidence, showing how much an area sinks into the ground

Aoyama Hina creates this hand-cut! (with scissors) works of type art

A great collection of rocky typefaces

Ciara Phelen's great use of paper and physical depth

Amednine Alessandra, typeface using books on a shelf

Latter research led me to an article on It's Nice That written by Sarah Hyndman, in response to her second book 'How to draw type and influence people'.


https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/sarah-hyndman-multisensory-typography-how-to-draw-type-and-influence-people-200417-1



Extract of the article by Sarah Hyndman

"Words have more impact when you can touch them". The title straight away, speaks volumes and the theory that type is more emotionally engaging and memorable when seen, touched or read on a physical page is incredible. Again stretching my curiosity as to how the physical feeling of typography can captivate ones mind.





 



The second research blog page.

Research for Designers by Gjoko Muratovski:

Going back to the reading list. I dived into a couple chapters of this book for research guidance and help. I've [below], simply compiled a list of things I learnt and thought to be note-worthy:

Foreword:

•Graphic design and typography got their start in Sumeria with the development of cuneiform. After that, things picked up speed. I looked up 'Cuneiform' and it's very early ancient markings on clay. •In this sense, design is a universal human capacity. In fact, every creature able to plan future actions and carry them out can design. •A research method is way to solve a problem. •Research shows others how to do what the researcher has learned.

The foreword opens with a very welcoming message. Simply stating its purpose.

Preface:

•The creative process of design, which is often based on tacit knowledge, intuition, assumptions and personal preferences, is a process that can be improved and enhanced.

•Designers will need to adapt themselves to unfamiliar situations and learn how to collaborate with non-designers, draw on the knowledge of others, search for facts from diverse sources in order to make decisions in a systematic and insightful way.

•Rather than investigating research, most designers usually focus on investigating form, style, and process of making, without taking into consideration the broader context in which their designs will be used. They will need to learn how to conduct research and operate in a cross-discipliniary manner.

The preface explains why research is important.

Chapter 2, Design and Research:

•Design is a way of inquiring, producing and knowing knowledge; this means it is a way of researching. Designers will need to learn how to incorporate scientific research into their practice.

•The challenge here is design has been traditionally placed under the domain of applied arts and not science. However, things are changing and design has begun to move in another direction.

•Design is becoming more about listening, asking, understanding, and drafting new possilbiities. Many engage in facilitating positive futures such as developing energy-saving products, creating human-friendly environments, encouraging political participation and even reducing crime.

•An example is used of IKEA working with child development professionals in safety, behaviour and psychology to help make their toys.

An insightful chapter, offering good reason and a strong case study.

Chapter 3, Research Essentials: (This needs to be re-read)


Chapter 6, Visual Research: (This needs to be read properly)

Twelve steps for research analysis:

1. Establish your research question or hypothesis

2. Read widely on the topic

3. Define your object of analysis

4. Define your categories

5. Create a coding sheet to record your findings

6. Test your coding categories

7. Collect your data

8. Summarise your findings

9. Interpret the findings

10. Relate this back to your research question

11. Present your findings

12. Discuss the findings




 


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