Coded Cold Ones (2019-2020)
In 2019 I got in touch with Clint Weaver, designer of craft beer magazine Froth, to suggest making some typographic puzzles for their magazines ‘fun page’. Clint thought it was a great idea and so Coded Cold Ones was born.
Over the next 7 months I crafted a series of cryptic challenges with a range of difficulties centered around a different craft brewery, beer range and variety.
Try them for yourself!
I got a lot of positive feedback and messages from readers who took up the challenge.
Unfortunately, the series is no longer running, but I definitely hope to make more work like this in the future.
Exploratory Chalkboard Wall (2020)
For LCI Melbourne’s T1 Open Day in 2020, I created a typographic mural on the chalkboard wall in their student lounge area.
Wanting to encourage the process of exploration and experimentation within their student work I decided to create a piece that contained a variety of ideas, secret messages, easter eggs and even mistakes.
To start, I created a basic grid for the wall space made of crosses before sitting down to apply a constant stream of consciousness approach where I deliberately left myself open to size, shape, length, width and components. This led to letterforms the adapted to each other as well as the space afforded by the wall.
I find this approach extremely rewarding when pursuing new ideas and based on the feedback I received from the staff and students, they had a lot of fun getting lost looking at all the different shapes and forms.
Tools of the Trade #2 Exhibition (2019)
When Gaston Castagnet and the Melbourne Lettering Club put the call out to be part of the second Tools of the Trade exhibition, I jumped at the chance to explore an alternative area of type creation.
Held in 2019 at Black Car Fitzroy in Fitzroy, Australia, the exhibition featured an awesome variety of work from many MLC members and friends.
With the theme of “brush”, the brief was simple: experiment, have fun, respect the deadline, don’t sweat it and use the A2 poster template provided. So began my path of exploration.
After playing around with different brushes, techniques and treatments I ended up following a direction that explored the additional restriction of black and white with two tone letters. Using the gridded page of the template, I created letters that pieced together to use as much of the space as possible like a jigsaw with all horizontal strokes using a grey brush and all vertical strokes using a black one.
The typeface itself is named “Gurty” after being heavily inspired by André Gürtler’s book Experiments with letterform and calligraphy (1997).
The Democracy Series (2019)
When the Shiraz Republic approached me to design a typographic treatment and label for their limited ‘Democracy Series’ set of wines, I saw it as a great opportunity to implement some of my sign painting skills after being inspired by hand written protest signs.
With typography and colour designed to be flexible depending on the variety of the wine, the outcome will allow them to continue their experiments with lesser known or international tastes.
Type. Grid. Play. Exhibition. (2019)
Held in June, 2019 at LCI Melbourne, my first solo exhibition Type. Grid. Play. detailed my creative approach through the presentation of selected typefaces.
Showcasing key steps in the creation of letterforms that were instigated by my design of custom made grids and patterns, each unique typeface took visitors through my creative process and detailed my determination to apply and adapt to forms that deviate from traditional letter shape expectations.
The exhibition provided glimpses of early sketch work through to interactive stations where visitors could create as well as use and explore each font for themselves.
Upstairs in the student lounge I also created a chalkboard wall mural that invited students to handwrite their name in Sandy while attempting to decipher a secret message.
It was a great undertaking and I thank everyone who came to visit the show.
More images of the show can be found on my Instagram page and via the hashtag #typegridplay
In March 2019 I was invited to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus by taking part in the Nowhaus exhibition held at LCI Melbourne for Melbourne Design Week.
To honour the great institute and inspiring people, I decided to further develop and expand on a typeface ‘Build’ I created in 2006 which was initially inspired by Josef Albers.
The resulting typeface was renamed ‘Meela’ and paid tribute to Modernism and Albers’ exploration of colour theory with repeat letterforms changing between four different colour ways through the use of contextual alternatives. Plus there is even the little added bonus of the ellipse character becoming a mini triangle, square and circle.
Clu came into existence, almost by accident, when I was exploring variable font creation in the program Glyphs.
Initially I was using letters from previously designed typefaces as a way to get my head around getting it to work which was creating its own set of problems, so I started to make basic letter shapes instead.
Once I started to do this I, of course, wanted to see how letters worked with other letters, so I designed a few more, then as I went along, I found I wanted to type certain words (like my kids names for instance), so naturally I needed to fill out a few more letters. Before I knew it, I had spent many weeks making a font that included five different axis (Normal, Angle, Width, Weight and Format) that consisted of both upper and lowercase, numerals and basic punctuation.
I will continue to work on completing the other characters for each set when I get the chance, but for now I’m very happy with the result. Who knows where it might lead…
Follow my Instagram for any updates.
Evi is a typeface that acted as a catalyst for me return to letterform exploration after spending a long time creating more straightforward letterforms derived from my #100daysofspontaneous grid patterns. Wanting to go back to something “simple”, I designed the forms on a traditional square grid before segmenting each into four parts and rearranging them into a wide variety of configurations.
Looking to again explore familiarity and rearrangement, I aimed to push my creativity by forcing myself to create until I ran out of perceived component arrangements. In the end I created 1023 individual options spread across the 26 letters and then narrowed them down to the 234 that make up the final typeface. The name Evi is derived from the word “deviations”.
36 Days of Type (2018 Edition)
For my third undertaking of 36 Days of Type I wanted to continue my approach from 2017, but push it further.
For the most part I tried to explore more complex patterns from one of my #100daysofspontaneous grids (again chosen from those I had not used before), create a new letterform and then attempt to extend my application of it within After Effects.
All the animations can be found on my Instagram feed.
Moira, like an increasing number of my typefaces, grew from my #100DAYSOFSPONTANEOUS grid series. Derived from grid pattern 58, she explores a world of intricate detail and a lack of straight lines. Initially designed with a greater purpose in 3-dimensional space, for now however, she will just have to remain in her 2D confines.
I revel in finding a typographic purpose within each of these 100 grids, as they pose a unique challenge to constantly adapt to whatever they are throwing at me. With Moira, they key lied in limiting myself to a small, sub section of the grid in order to develop each letterform.
Gyra began life as a challenge from Sarah Hyndman (@typetasting) to create a typeface derived from a 45 rpm spindle adapter. Deciding to give it a go, I developed up a series of grid structures based on the spindle shape to work from and concluded that I wanted to make something that was both intricate and beautiful for the forms. When it came to composition I aimed to evoke a subtle sense of movement which led to some fun ways of utilising her detailed letterforms. All in all a fun challenge, now complete.
Peck was designed for an installation piece that I created for the Academy of Design, Australia in 2016. When I was asked by artist Michael Peck (hence the name) if I could develop a typographic piece for a newly implemented creative space utilizing small wooden pegs as a basis, I jumped at the chance to make some large-scale type.
With the limitation of only being able to use/fill roughly half for the pegs and holes (due to continued ventilation being required behind the installation), I produced a typeface that was connected via the use of coloured rubber bands, which you can see here. (Problems with rubber quality led me to recreate the piece with coloured wool).
For the completed typeface, I looked to continue the playful nature of the letterforms while further exploring the overlapping composition and colours. The result is a typeface that is perfectly legibile on its own, but also one that becomes deliberately more challenging when composed into words and sentences.
36 Days of Type (2017 Edition)
36 Days of Type is a very cool initiative that involves creatives from around the world showcasing a new letter of the alphabet every day for 36 days from A-Z then 0-9. I first took part in 2016 and used it to delve into my back catalogue of typefaces and provide some insight into thought process behind them.
In 2017, I decided to up the ante and create a new letterform every day from one of my #100daysofspontaneous grids (that I had not used before), and then teach myself to animate it using Adobe After Effects (a program that I had never used before).
The results were very well received and the process has now opened another channel for me to convey my type exploration.
All the animations can be found on my Instagram feed.
Truant takes its name from the fact that it was designed while I was on holiday. I was ‘away’, ‘absent’ and ‘on leave’ from my normal life. The complex forms draw from Aztec and Mayan influence, as well as circuitry with the intended composition further exploring interconnectivity between letterforms within words.
Created from grid 44 from my #100daysofspontaneous collection, I also wanted to look at creating letters that displayed a lack of uniformity and the effect on reading.
Trae Intra (2017)
Trae Intra needed to become a thing when I noticed a sharp increase in my 3.5yo daughter’s ability to write her own name. I was originally going to follow up Trae when Polly turns 4, but I thought it would be cool to show how much can change with only 6 months of development.
Once again I got Polly to sketch out her interpretation of the Latin alphabet so that I could vectorise it and layer my “clean” version over the top.
You can see that some letterforms still pose a bit of a cognitive struggle, but for the most part each of her shapes are downright legible. Which means of course, that I don’t have the heart to tell her I like her first ones more…
Clara began life as a challenge from my former student Riley McDonald to create something typographic for his magazine “PRJKTR” based in Geelong, Victoria. With the issue revolving around “SIN”, I decided to create shapes that pushed my “sin” of letterform speculation to a new level.
Unfortunately the magazine went on permanent hiatus before publication, but lucky for me Jamie Clarke from Type Worship was the first to pick up the project and run with it. Check out the post here. (Thank you Jamie!)
Utilising grid 17 from my #100daysofspontaneous project, I tried to compose shapes that elevated the obscurity of some of my typefaces and added an element of cryptography to them. I then put together a cryptic artwork using the letters for people to try and decipher. (Her name comes from seeking “clarity”).
Looking to engage with the audience and challenge them further, I wrote a small article that provided subtle clues within the text that hinted at how I created the letter. The winner of this challenge will receive a set of my gridded sketchbooks. (At the time of publishing, there has been no winner).
You can find the full text and images here also.
Can you figure out what Clara is trying to tell you?
Let me know if you do and you might claim the prize.
Please share this with anyone you think might enjoy it.
Aneeta was created using grid 93 from my #100daysofspontaneous series and continues my play with interlocking and interrelating letterforms. Through the development process it was decided that an extra character was needed to signify a normal word space or break and allow for her forms to flow from one word composition to the next.
Her name stems from many of the letterforms resembling insects and the fact that paragraphs of text seem to have ants marching through the words.
Try out your own booklet by picking some up from my shop.
Pegboard Wall (2016)
This public installation was designed at the request of the Academy of Design Australia. The brief was to produce a piece of work for a newly installed pegboard wall and highlight it as a space for creation.
The typographic artwork that I created was designed to instigate a dialogue that promoted deeper thought and challenged the observer through its slightly illegible, colourful and overlapping letterforms.
Looking to engage both the students and staff alike, I emblazoned the words “CHALLENGE WHAT IS EXPECTED.” onto the wall (first in rubber bands, and later in string) in an effort to remind us that the “expected” answer is not always the “right” answer.
As creatives we should not always follow the safe path that most others will choose, because challenging ourselves and others to try something new or different will almost always lead to more interesting results.
Thanks Michael Peck for filming/recording (and asking me in the first place) and Laura Cousens for editing.
Trae began life as a random request I asked my 3yo daughter Polly, “Can you write your name, like me?” Utterly surprised by her ability to somewhat mimic my “good” version above hers, I then asked (read slightly forced…) her to write out each letter of the alphabet.
The letterforms consist of Polly’s original sketch with my interpretation over the top as a sort of collaboration. My excitement with these forms comes from fact that on examination of each “perfect” Latin letterform that I wrote down, these are the representations that Polly created.
I love the idea that once she had finished writing, she did not see her interpretation as “wrong” because it didn’t look like mine. She was simply happy with what she had made. This is a freedom we should all have as creative individuals.
Cora explores excessive amounts of detail within letterforms through the use of grid 80 from my #100daysofspontaneous series. To create this typeface I started with the idea of reversing the composition of the letters (left hand elements on the right and vice versa) to initiate a perceptual challenge, after which I created the “correct” (recognized) versions for each letter before overlapping each over the other. The name Cora comes from her detailed and decorative forms.
Derived from grid 84 of my #100daysofspontaneous booklets, Nikau was designed as very special visual “thank you” to Nicole Arnett Phillips (of @Typographher and Typograph.Journal). Nicole has been a fervent supporter and self professed fangirl of my work for many years now, so what better way to thank her than with a typeface designed using her as inspiration.
Taking cues from Nicole’s New Zealand heritage (with nods to Maori artwork), I wanted to make letterforms that embodied a certain level of speculation and elegance. The result is a typeface that aims to draw people in with its beauty while challenging you to decipher the meaning behind each shape.
Twiggy is the second typeface created based on my #100DAYSOFSPONTANEOUS grid booklet series. This particular typeface is derived from the lines of grid number 26 and explores interconnectivity and recognition by allowing each letterform to seemingly grow from the one preceding it. Additionally, each letterform contains subtle nods (sometimes more than one) to their expected Latin counterpart shapes in order to allude to what has been written.
If you are interested in see what you could create in these booklets pick some up in the shop.
Ono is a typeface derived from my #100DAYSOFSPONTANEOUS booklet series. Born from the lines of grid number 50, he plays with the notion of on and off states and the sporadic nature of inspiration. Each line acts as circuitry to different ideas with the complete letter being the finished product. The challenge of legibility within these letters reflects the difficulty that comes with trying to hold onto and envision new or innovative ideas.
If you are interested in see what you could create in these booklets pick some up in the shop.
Owen is based off the first grid pattern that I created as part of my 100 Days Project. Determined to create a typeface based on all 100 grids, these letterforms begin what could be a very long journey.
The forms themselves take visual cues from both the Ogham alphabet as well as the utility markings often found of streets and footpaths. Compositionally, the idea for this typeface is for it to be able to written and read either vertically or horizontally depending on the application.
The letterforms for the typeface Edie were inspired by a small section of the Edge Theatre roof at Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia.
Consisting of unique angles made of steel and glass, the shapes of the roof influenced the creation of a detailed and complex grid structure from which I derived the letterforms.
Taking cues from Echo this typeface also utilizes single character ligatures for double letters and, similar to Theo, a vertical composition when written which leads to some interesting (and often beautiful) word shapes.
Ever interested in other cultures and their writing systems, the letterforms for Konni were initially inspired by the shapes for Japanese Katakana.
After playing with the existing forms, I wanted to explore new compositions based on the Latin shapes, therefore I developed up a complex grid that overlapped two contrasting structural systems derived from what I had learned.
It was through the use of this grid that I was able to capture the essence of the initial inspiration but filter them into something more familiar to me, but still remaining foreign.
A reminder to act when we have inspiration, Noble is a typeface that draws influence from neon signs. While traveling in New Zealand at the beginning of 2015, I finally acted on the urge (after many, many years) to complete an inline typeface that references these wonderful kinds of lights. Compelled by the idea that the inline needed to be one single line, that never crosses or meets, I took the shapes of Irene and went from there.
Lock is another ‘thank you via typeface’, like Kit, to Lachlan Philp for gifting me a brush pen during a Melbourne Lettering Club meet up. The typeface was also designed as an exploratory challenge to myself to utilize a more traditional tool, but apply my speculative approach to the letterforms I could create.
Not being a letterer as such, it took almost 60 pages of exploration and practice before I was happy enough with their forms. I will continue to investigate this approach.
Thank you Lachlan.
Echo finds its foundations in my previous typeface Sandy. Built into this typeface are the notions of economy and the application of single characters for common groupings of letters such as tt, oo, ing, ed, etc. and frequently used words such as the, to, for, and, of, etc.
The challenge with this typeface was to take some of the theories behind Sandy, apply them to the familiar Latin letterforms and then explore the interaction with the results of subtle changes to the extended shapes.
This typeface has the ability to evolve and adapt where needed and it is once these new elements and shapes are introduced that this typeface comes alive.
Typism Book Two
This piece was designed as a contribution to Typism Book Two which was released in 2015 as part of the Typism Conference held in Queensland, Australia.
The artwork showcases the typeface Lector and the grid structure that was used to create it.
Theo is inspired by a pattern on the façade of the Forum Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. The intricate pattern was observed while taking part in the monthly Melbourne Lettering Club meet ups while I was unsure what to create.
I saw the unique pattern in the ornate window openings on this beautiful building and decided to use it to create these letterforms that explore complexity of form and alternative implementation.
Lector is a typeface that, similar to Apelo, explores the idea of making the familiar unfamiliar. However, while the latter breaks up the letterforms and reconfigures them, Lector keeps the original (or a basic version of it) and reflects it in order to create the new shape.
Therefore each letterform aims to challenge the observer by taking familiar foundations and presenting them as new, and seemingly ‘foreign’, shapes.
Tone of Voice Exhibition
These three 200 x 200 mm pieces were designed for the exhibition ‘Tone of Voice’ held at the CATC Design School in Melbourne, Australia in 2014.
With a theme focused around the ‘Festival of Change’ taking place at the time, each of the typefaces relates to ‘change’ through the experimental and speculative exploration of letterforms and the potential transformative effect this has on creativity, perception and understanding.
‘Scintilla’ examines the removal of detail, ‘Fathom’ looks at the reorganisation of the existing Latin letterform components and ‘Hiero’ speculates alternative approaches to the letterforms themselves.
More pieces can be found at www.melbourneletteringclub.com
Apelo is a typeface named after the influential French type designer, Philippe Apeloig. Early in 2014, while he was in Melbourne for the ‘Look Upstairs’ conference, Philippe gave me gift that included gridded notepads and Apelo is the first resulting typeface from this gift.
The forms are based on a simple shift in shape, similar to Fathom, by moving the right half of the letterform to the left. The forms aim to challenge perception by transforming something familiar into something unfamiliar through the reorganization of elements.
Thank you very much for the gift Philippe.
Ally continues the exploration conducted with typefaces such as Sandy and Fathom. Each letterform takes the familiar elements and reorganizes them into unfamiliar compositions, as per Fathom, and then the new shapes have been manipulated in order to examine the possible relationship of the letterforms with analogue output and creation, as per Sandy, but with more detail.
The name comes from the reallocation of the components.
Kit is a thank you via typeface to Duncan Legge who built this website for me. Duncan has been a very good friend of mine for many years and is a top notch digital designer who took time out of his busy schedule to help me out.
The forms of Kit take influence from Duncan’s love of cats, with each letterform in some way or another resembling their shape.
Thank you Duncan.
What I Know Now Exhibition
These three posters were designed for the exhibition ‘What I Know Now’ held at the Academy of Design in Port Melbourne, Australia in 2014.
Themed around the concept of expanding knowledge, I set each poster in a different typeface that aimed to progressively push the observer’s perception. Typeset on each poster is a quote that explores perception and experimentation from Herbert Spencer, Donald Schön and Gerard Unger.
Included alongside was the following statement:
“When thinking about the theme ‘What I know Now’, my mind unsurprisingly gravitates towards my approach to the creation of letterforms. When I started making letters I was bound to the expectations of each letter shape and how they should be created. However, slowly but surely through many experiments, conducted over a several years, where I removed, added and rearranging details and components, before finally I speculated with completely new shapes and elements. I found that it was not just my designs that were transforming; my perception of what a letterform is, or could be, was as well.
What I know now is that through this process I have removed many of the preconceived expectations that I used to have when thinking about what a letter should look like. In turn, this has allowed me the freedom to create from a place of openness and a willingness to explore which has led to the creation of many letterforms and typefaces that I would have otherwise shied away from in order to remain in safer, more expected, territory. When I design a typeface, I know that the Latin letterforms will always exist, however I also know there is no harm in playing in the realm of ‘What If?’, just to see what happens when I do.”
Typograph.Journal Volume 2
This artwork was created as a visual response for Typograph.Journal Volume 2 and accompanies a short interview.
Tasked with listening to the song ‘Glare’ by Sheep Dog Wolf and creating a piece of typographic design, the outcome references time, light, shadow, emotion and hidden meaning.
When asked what it was about the song that resonated with me, my response was as follows.
“When listening to the song (which I did a lot), I always made a deliberate attempt to do so while outside. This was usually while walking my dog and it meant that I was both listening and not listening to the song at the same time, due to still needing to pay attention to my surroundings. I found that this allowed me to absorb different parts of the lyrics, compositions etc. each time and without necessarily forcing any creative aspects or expectations to “react” visually in the early stages.
What resonated with me was the variance within the song, as I would find that on any given play through I would find myself focussing on different parts independent of each other. This meant that each listen led to a different reaction or interpretation. After a while I gravitated to the words “Am I the only one who sees?” and I went from there.”
Visit Typograph.Journal for more information.
Billy began life as part of my Poster Poster Club response to the word ‘Threat’. The letterforms take inspiration from the possible glint that can occur on the circular base of bullets (the rim and the primer).
While on the poster it can be seen that I retained the inner circle relating to the primer, I have since removed this element in order to refine the letterforms and create simpler shapes.
The name of the typeface refers to gunman Billy the Kid.
Parker was inspired by the parquet brick pattern observed at the local train station during my daily commute. Taking cues from other typefaces such as Maze and Sandy, I wanted to explore the idea of interconnectivity, pattern and economy. The outcome being that if I was to compile or arrange any grouping of letterforms, they would re-create or at the very least allude to the original pattern and grid of the bricks.
Ahara is a typeface that I designed while aiming to bridge the gap between the ideas and shapes behind the letterforms of Amble and Sandy. Reflecting on the letterforms of both of these typefaces led to the desire to investigate the type of letterforms that would act as perceptually transitional in the grand scheme of letterform creation and understanding.
Having the ability to interact with the shapes and compositions of the previous typefaces brings about an approach that creatively ‘knows the future’ as the letterforms of Ahara know about the letterforms of Sandy and this leads to an embracing of their ideas, but also seeks to bring them closer to those of Amble.
Essentially what this becomes is an understanding that translates into being creatively intrigued by the progressively challenging letterforms of Sandy, but wishing to make these ideas slightly more accessible in order to enhance the letterforms of typefaces that look to move further into abstraction and obscurity.
Amble is a typeface designed in a similar vein to Hector, but began life as the forms for Mosey. It investigates the effect of a high level of complexity in regard to its included components; however, these components are identifiable elements taken from the existing letterforms.
Essentially the typeface is a means to explore the idea of what happens when letterforms are made of nothing but familiar and recognisable elements, but these elements, added together, lead the letterforms to becoming separated from the familiarity and recognition usually found through these components.
The typeface Sandy revolves around the idea of being able to reproduce each letter by hand with ease and speed when handwriting. The letterforms look to separate themselves from the arbitrary shapes that we know in the Latin alphabet and present their forms as a system of simple components with individually identifiable elements.
Taking its foundations from the later design cues observed in process of creating Amble, Sandy was a means by which I could explore the impact that very restrained letter components (a single circle and a single line) could have on the creation of letters that were as individual as they were part of a sequence or set.
My desire was to create a typeface that was not only systematic in appearance and essence, but also one that, outside the computer, could be imbued with the personality of the individual writing down the letters.
The typeface also includes single characters for common collections of letterforms, such as double letters (ee, oo, ll, etc.), frequent words (the, of, to, for, etc.) and letterforms that often appear together (er, ed, th, st, etc.) in an exploration of spacial economy. In some cases I have also adapted this to also includes names such as Barry (seen in the second last image).
Hector is a typeface that is designed to play on our recognition of familiar parts of letterforms. What Hector does is pick and choose elements from each letterform, taking more information from some and less from others, before finally altering their orientation in order to present them as new shapes.
Mosey is an exercise in deliberately complicating refined and restrained versions of Latin letterforms, by confining them to a rigid shape and imposing them with reflections of alternate letterforms. The purpose of this is to explore the mind’s ability to recognize and adjust to an unknown form by finding known and understood elements within it.
Exploring my interest in ancient civilisations, Mine takes inspiration from Mayan numerals in order to create letterforms based on a numerical sequence with each letterform separated by thin lines.
Geonicia, much like Phone, takes inspiration from the ancient Phoenician letterforms. This exploration presents the kind of typeface I might create had the letterforms never died out and the alphabet was still in current use.
The typeface Scintilla, with its name meaning small or tiny amount, is a typeface that was designed to further evolve the ideas of removing detail from the letterforms that make up the Latin alphabet. Aiming to push the ideas expressed in the previous experimental typefaces such as Missing and Newt, this typeface takes its base shapes and visual cues from the conventional typeface Herbert and one that consisted of the standard and expected Latin letterforms.
Cody was the first typeface that I designed that made no attempt to ‘please’ my existing letterform understandings. Born out of an idea that was sparked while playing an otherwise unimpressive video game, I was intrigued by the idea of having letterforms as not only objects of a playful nature (similar to Game), but also ones that required an initial translation or decipherment of sorts in order to understand their meaning as letterforms.
Fathom is a typeface aimed to blur the lines between my own boundaries surrounding experimental and speculative letterforms.
Wanting to follow on from previous experiments such as Sayit, this typeface was again born out of my desire to take the letterforms we know and turn them into letterforms that were foreign yet familiar.
Inspired by the notion that at least partial recognition of our letterforms comes from knowing and recognising each of the components that make up each letter and the roles that they play, I went about using each component in an unexpected way.
The typeface Minor, was another means through which I wanted to explore the perception of letters by alluding to familiar shapes. Beginning with an idea for the shape of the ‘R’, each letter looked to make connections with the shapes of the Latin alphabet, but remain restrained and disconnected in form.
Herbert is a clean slab serif typeface designed as part of a personal challenge to create letterforms that conformed to what we expect them to be. Undertaking this challenge helped reinforce and refine the experimental and speculative ideas that I had been creating up to this point and prove that not all of my typefaces had to push boundaries. Although, this typeface was later adapted into the forms for Scintilla.
Sayit is a typeface designed in 2009 and it is created from clean and simple uppercase letter shapes layered over one another to create more complex and obscure forms. The typeface is based on the ‘What if?’ scenario of What if we designed our letterforms based on how we currently pronounce them?
Therefore each letterform is comprised of each current letterform that roughly spells out the sound of that letter when pronounced and translated into a word, i.e. ‘AY’ for ‘A’, ‘BE’ for ‘B’, and so forth.
When creating this typeface, I wanted to apply the notions of adding additional detail to our letterforms in order to explore the impacts on clarity, complexity and the comparative similarity of some of the forms in the current Latin alphabet.
Hiero consists of letterforms that aim to imagine letters from a different perspective and address the hypothetical idea that the letterforms that exist within the Latin alphabet are actually a profile representation of the ‘real’ letterforms, which have been corrected to now face the front.
Blake was designed in order to satisfy a curiosity with the forms of Blackletter typefaces. I wanted to create something clean and crisp based on a simple grid system with shapes that showed their influence, but were obviously created in the digital realm.
For Ruby I was challenged to create a typeface on a specific grid by a colleague, in the same spirit as Mishka and Boussa. The result contains letterforms that are intended to touch and interact in order to create a sense of connection and flow within the words.
Mishka, like Ruby and Boussa, was designed as part of a challenge to use different grids to create different typefaces. For Mishka the letterforms were designed to maintain a strict positioning on the grid at the time of creation, meaning that for each letter to be created I was not allowed to move about the grid at my leisure, I had to make each immediately after the preceding one. This led to some interesting shapes being made due to the irregularities of the grid.
Inspired by the shapes of the Phoenician alphabet, Phone looks to create the letterforms of the Latin alphabet with severely reduced detail. With no curves, sharp angles and forms that sometimes deviate from expectation, this typeface challenges the reader to make connections to shapes that otherwise might be simply assumed to be graphic marks.
Taking visual cues from modern serif typefaces, TeeTee is a simple exploration of think and thin (where the name comes from). Beginning life as a sketch for the double storey ‘g’, this typeface was a means through which I could investigate some of the more formal aspects of letter shapes.
Boussa was a challenge to create a typeface based on a specific grid from a colleague. What became of this exercise was a basic lowercase typeface with a hint of personally in order to reflect the instigator of the challenge.
Irene is a typeface based on the letterforms of Iris. Irene takes the shapes of Iris and elongates them to give them a less compressed feel as well as adds a lowercase set to complement the uppercase.
Musak is a playful typeface that draws inspiration from the notes of a musical score. Looking to design letterforms that contained a level of rhythm, Musak consists on a restrained amount of detail and seeks to dance across the page.
Fluid, as the name suggests, is a typeface that plays with the idea of liquid. Each letterform aims to create a sense of movement and be imagined as water flowing through the various parts of the letterforms.
Iris is designed to be a compact and solid typeface. The letterforms look to use minimal detail and act like a sort of puzzle that locks into position through the uniform width of the shapes. These shapes were later adapted in to the typeface Irene.
Meaning ‘treasure’ in Japanese, Takara was inspired by a touring exhibition for the Tokyo Type Directors Club. The letterforms are made from minute detail and were created to have very minimal change between the upper and lowercase shapes.
Angel takes its name from misspelling the word ‘Angle’ when saving the original file. Wanting to make a very angular typeface, the letterforms of Angel were created on a grid consisting almost solely of diagonal lines. The challenge was to remain as true to the grid as possible.
Darkon is an architectural lighting design company based in Melbourne, Australia. Created as a sister company for Dean Phillips Architectural Lighting and Design, when designing the identity I wanted to create something that reflected the refined and often angular nature of the high-quality lighting that Darkon provides. I was later commissioned to create an entire typeface based on the letterforms of the identity.
The typeface Back, can be seen to not completely do away with our desired familiarity of the letterforms, but instead reduces itself to limited, basic shapes with retrained proportions for detail such as the ascenders and decenders. Within this typeface, it is not until observing the more ‘extreme’ letterforms that this notion of reduction is fully realized, yet still maintains recognisable perceptions.
As the name suggests, Origami is a typeface based on the folding shapes of origami. Beginning life as part of the ‘Everything in Between’ workshops conducted by 3 Deep Design, the brief for the letters was simple, make a typeface based on a specific grid that referenced origami. For me, I wanted to create letterforms that looked as if they could for certain be recreated using folded paper, anything else would not meet the brief.
Quilt takes inspiration from the stitching of patchwork quilts. Wanting to make a typeface around this simple idea, I made sure to remain true to the specific concept and not allow for any deviation from the angled stitching through the introduction of curves or pandering to expected shapes for the letterforms.
Length stems from a desire to make a typeface that looked as if it was in the middle of toppling over. Making the letterforms tall and thin, I wanted to create a sense of perpetual and uncontrollable imbalance.
The typeface Soviet takes inspiration from the flag of the former Soviet Union and the hammer and sickle found on it. For each of the letterforms, bar a few, I wanted to instill a sense of two things coming together by having a crossing of elements.
Flow utilises a restrained level of detailed for its base forms, but retains a high level of letterform recognition. Even as a typeface born from the desire to limit the amount of different stroke directions within a letterform, the letters were intended to mimic existing curves within themselves as much as possible, this typeface holds true to the general shape and expectations of each letter with few venturing too far ‘off book’.
While in travelling in Bangkok I was confined to my hotel room due to sickness and left to watch multiple movies that included Thai subtitles. While watching these movies, I was continually distracted by many of the Thai subtitles appearing to be in English or at least taking the form of English words. Inspired by this, I created this experimental typeface based on the Thai language forms, but adapted to fit Latin letterforms.
Maze was created for issue 2 of Typotasic Magazine that was published out of Tasmania, Australia. The issue was titled ‘Labyrinths and Facades’ and inspired by this I created a typeface that is actually able to be used like a maze and navigated from beginning to end.
Newt is a typeface that presents letterforms that are taken to a much further point of reduction. At this level of reduction, the letterforms begin to disappear into obscurity, with some even having the danger of beginning to resemble undesired and alternate letters in the alphabet.
However, upon this discovery it should be noted that obscurity was the intention behind the design of each shape. These letterforms were deliberately aimed to provoke questions of the familiarity of these letterforms against our current ones.
Missing is an experimental typeface designed in 2006. It is based on the idea of removing detail from each letter until they become fractions of their former selves. After this, the aim was to then question whether what remained of each letter could still be understood as a letterform.
As one of the first typefaces designed under the ‘How far can letterforms’ notion, it stood as a benchmark that embodied the idea of removing detail from the recognised forms of the Latin alphabet and set itself as a foundation from which to build and continue to interpret the idea over the following years.
Game was designed to encompass the notions of its namesake. Taking visual cues from sliding puzzle games, the intention of this typeface was to create a connection with the reader by engaging them in visual play that led them to re-imagine the letterforms, as they believed they ‘should’ be presented. This is an idea that becomes easier as one works his/her way through each letterform and leads to an eventual understanding of the forms regardless of whether they are ‘corrected’ or not.
Build was a typeface that explored the idea of reduced detail in letterforms, but instead of taking as far as Blank, I broke it down into a series of solid components similar to Block. Wanting to make a typeface that had reduced detail, but also one with some personality, I looked to imbue some of the letterforms of Build with a certain level of elegance.
Looking to continue the ideas behind Blank, this typeface aimed to take the base shapes of the Blank letterforms and experiment with adding some detail back into them. As a result, through very minimal alterations such as the introduction of curves, we can begin to see clear distinctions appear between some of the letterforms. This concept later influenced the typeface Build.
Womb was typeface designed as part of the ‘Everything in Between’ workshops run by 3 Deep Design in Melbourne, Australia. For this exercise we were given a letter of the alphabet (in my case ‘O’) and briefed to create a letterform/typeface around it.
With no other information to go off, I realized that at the time I always started my typefaces with the letter ‘O’ and therefore saw it as the ‘Mother’ of the letterforms. Based on this idea, I created each letter out of a series of shapes torn from thick black card and arranged each piece to create the various forms. The aim of which was to simulate a baby moving in a womb.
These shapes were later digitised.
Spiral seeks to apply the additional detail in a way that is intended to provide added function to each letterform. These letterforms are designed to increase the level of flexibility of their use by allowing a reader to view and apply the shapes on four alternate axes.
Skyline is an exploration into particle-based type. For this typeface I wanted to investigate abnormal letter shapes and hidden familiarity to other concepts. In this case the letterforms took varying shapes and sizes while being influenced by a city skyline.
This typeface is base on the simple idea of ‘What if there were no closed off letters?’ and to explore this I designed the letterforms so as to have no closed areas and even played with other shapes in order for them to appear more open also.
Neutral was designed in 2005 to serve as a base template for a series of typefaces that experimented with its forms. The resulting typefaces Flip, Shift, Switch and Woven aimed to explore the effects that deviations to the expected shape of letterforms had on legibility.
Intercom looked to convey the simple idea of the concealment and then discovery of a letterform within an otherwise familiar pattern. These letterforms were designed to be close representations of the recognized compositions but created within a complex and disparate grid structure of seemingly ‘on/off’ states.
The result of this experiment shows that although ‘busy’ with many interfering elements, there is still a quite straightforward path between the perception, connection and understanding of the desired letter as the ‘extra’ elements have a propensity to recede into the background.
The grid was inspired by an intercom that I saw on my daily commute.
Galore is a typeface was designed for a disused Christmas card. For these letterforms I looked to create elegant dot compositions that reflected festive things such as Christmas lights. Galore can be seen as an early exploration of smaller parts making up the whole, however not yet to the point of abstraction.
Designed on a simple grid and part of a family of gradual departures from the existing letterforms, Flip was the culmination of these experiments. The outcome was achieved by applying a horizontal break through a rough centre point, a couple of units below the x-height, and proceeding to invert all the detail and content above and below that point.
This typeface was based on the simple idea of wanting to add an obstruction or intrusive element to each of the letterforms. In this case, ‘What if each letter had a crossbar?’ While little impact is made on some letters, other shapes take on new and interesting appearances.
Broken is a typeface that explores the question, ‘What is all the ascenders and decenders of each letterform were bent at a 90 degree angle once they cleared the x-height?’ The result becomes letterforms that seem to invade (or embrace) each other’s space and interact.
The letterforms of the Blank show how the context of a word (or organized group of letters) aids in the understanding, interpretation and perception of letterforms.
Designed in 2006, Blank was the first typeface with which I attempted to challenge how we might understand letterforms specifically devoid of recognisable characteristics. Inspiration to create this typeface came after hearing the theory that we don’t read by looking at each letter, but by recognising the shapes of the words that the letters create.
Switch investigates the effect of switching the bottom half of each letterform with the one that follows it in the alphabet, i.e. the bottom of ‘a’ moves to become the bottom of the ‘b’, the bottom of the ‘b’ becomes the bottom of ‘c’, and so on. What can be seen to happen is that some of the new letters begin to resemble the old ones, but no longer retain the old meaning as ‘f’ now resembles the old ‘e’ but retains the meaning ‘f’. This can also be said of the ‘g’ looking like the old ‘f’ but referring to the sound for ‘g’.
Woven, like Shift, looks at the effects of shifting the bottom half of each letter two units of the grid to the right. This typeface takes this idea and then allows the letterforms to interact with each other in order to create a weaving effect.
Shift looks at the effects of shifting the bottom half of each letter two units of the grid to the right, what happens resembles a sort of ‘glitch’ effect, where our minds want to correct the letterforms back to their expected states. However, the shapes that still connect within their components such as the ‘e’, ‘f’, ‘s’ and ‘z’ make for interesting new letterforms.