TD Week 12: Literature Review

 How does vernacular typography contribute to a sense of place and belonging in the community of Walthamstow?

Running past the William Morris gallery this evening I was reminded of a subject I’d like to include in my critical report. The subject of my question revolves around vernacular typography and how people use typography, regardless of design experience, to create an environment. Even if they don’t realise it. William Morris was a big proponent of socialism and text being beautiful and easy to read at the same time. This post collects quotes around this subject for use in my critical report.

According to AIGA’s 2019 Design Survey, only 29% of the 9,429 respondents identified as a designer of color, with only 3% identifying as Black. Can’t drill down any further. In direct contrast to the population of Walthamstow. Make the invisible visible and encourage people to become involved in design to make a more pleasant place for everyone.

“The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”
― William Morris
Classic quote in the Mall – mostly branded shops rather than locally run businesses.

“…I do not want art for a few; any more than education for a few; or freedom for a few… ”
― William Morris

Typography is a gauge of a community, at the same time influencing it.

Letterforms are loaded cultural objects—they often reflect the people who made them and the story they want to tell. … In the long history of type design, designers of color have historically had limited access to the tools and knowledge necessary to create typography. This form of technological discrimination has had the effect of limiting the groups of people reflected in—and represented by—the typography we see in the world.
… [Tre Seals is] also cautiously optimistic about the potential of treating typography as a starting point for deeper conversations about culture and representation. (

“I believe that all type and design is subliminal—no matter how monotonous or garish.” Tre Seals

“The best way to create diverse perspectives in design? Integrate more training and learning opportunities in primary and secondary schools that teach students to question the idea of design from the get go.”

Beatrice Warde’s use of a crystal goblet is fine for the time, but as a metaphor is out of touch. Maryam Ahmed suggests a baby bottle.

Typography and placemaking

Typefaces have a powerful role to play when it comes to defining places and spaces. They help shape the aesthetic and, much like handwriting, reflect a certain personality. Over time, they can come to form part of the DNA of a place. All of which is important if you’re a brand – whether establishment or service – trying to evoke and reflect the mood of an area. (

Am I cynical to think about brands capitalising on this? Shouldn’t the people of a community also have a say in this? Change the power dynamic.

History of typography very restricted to printed items until the Industrial revolution “when mass production brought about the need for product advertising and promotion. Cities began to fill up with posters, handbills, banners and print billboards, all featuring multiple fonts and styles. At the same time, cities exploded in size, with the addition of new building types. Office buildings, train stations and municipal buildings now required signs for identity and wayfinding. Typography was further simplified to meet these new sign types, though typography was still following customized versions of classical fonts until the 20th century. … The messiness and clutter of the commercial city was disturbing to many designers and intellectuals in Europe. Design movements developed to integrate design disciplines to better refl ect the greater mechanization of society. (

Typography and psychology

Brumberger, E. (2003). The Rhetoric of Typography: The Persona of Typeface and Text. Technical Communication, 50, 206-223. 

The existing research on typography has focused primarily on readability and legibility issues; only a handful of studies have attempted to investigate the personas of typefaces perhaps because typography has generally been considered transparent. In 1959, typography researcher Cyril Burt concluded that there had been virtually no objective research on the psychological aspects of typeface design and usage. Burt’s observation remains true today.

Very interesting study.

Week 12: Walthamstow Echo article

I am going to promote the project by writing an article for the local paper. I’ve been given 400 words, aimed at a non-designer audience. Here we go.

The Heart of Awesomestow. Corner shop signs. Grocery prices. What do these have in common? They are all examples of lettering in Walthamstow, and lettering is meaningful because it forms part of our social backdrop.

Although we might not realise, lettering is one of the first things we learn at school. When we pick up a pencil to form the lines of a capital T’s, the circles of O’s and the triangles of an M, we are engaging with the design of letters, or, in ‘design speak’, typography. We learn to leave a little space between letters, and more space between words, to write what we want to say. It doesn’t matter which language we first learn to read and write; the principle of moving a pencil across a surface to create a mark is universal. As we grow, our writing gets steadier, and we progress from focussing on how we form the letters to how we can communicate with those around us.

We retain the skills to create letters and forget we learnt them, and yet, how words are displayed affect what we feel about people, places and things. Each piece of lettering in Walthamstow tells us a story of the person who wrote (or designed) it and the community around them, whether we realise it or not. Combining them gives us our collective history of an innovative and welcoming area that thrives when we celebrate our community.

I am an MA Graphic Design student, and I want to engage people in the Walthamstow community in a conversation about the lettering we see in the area and how it creates a sense of place. It doesn’t matter whether you are interested in lettering or if you have never thought about it before; I’d like to hear from as many people as possible.

I have created workshops for you to participate in, including a type treasure hunt, letter drawing, and type walks around E17 and am excited to share them with you at Visit the website to download the activity sheets and contribute to the study. The activities are all free, aimed at those aged 18 years and over, and can be done individually or in Covid-19 compliant small groups.

I posted it on the ideas wall and Tony gave me some feedback:

FInal piece

Week 12: Designs for Launch of Authorial Artefact

THe Tasks

  • Research and investigate how designers and makers publicise their activities or products, and the media organisations and business platforms that will be a mouthpiece for the PR and marketing of your initiative.
  • Design and create a prototype or series of prototypes, in the media of your choice, through fast iteration, testing and development, to help an audience or business partner see the potential of your proposition.
  • Create and communicate a one page outline or short video of next steps, and even production partners, to support any future development.

Research and investigate how designers and makers publicise their activities or products.

I’m going to focus on how community projects are publicised through the community and then in the wider world…

Zetteler, as mentioned in the lecture, definitely has some community projects …

Vernacular Typography

Searching for typography community projects, one stuck out to me: Vernacular Typography. It is “a non-profit photo archive and community-based initiative dedicated to the documentation and preservation of rapidly vanishing examples of lettering in the everyday environment.” It was set up by Molly Woodward to capture everyday typography inspired by a trip to Cuba. There was also a kickstarter campaign:

I really love how she described her project, and it fits between this and my collaborative tool, Filo’type. The main website has errors and doesn’t load, but some parts on the blog domain still function. There are a few hiatus, and then she picks up posting over the Corona-virus epidemic and Black Lives Matter protests.

The instagram page is followed by lots of mainstay typography accounts like letteringdaily and abctypography and has nearly 7,000 followers. I feel like Woodward has moved on somewhat from this as the last post is from 2018.

The media organisations and business platforms that will be a mouthpiece for the PR and marketing of your initiative.

There are two levels of marketing that I need to engage in for this project. Firstly, the people in the community with whom I want to engage and secondly, to share the outcomes with people. The two audiences require different techniques that overlap in some situations and on timelines. 

To engage people in the project, I need to be more focussed on the community. It is geographic in audience, so the strategy needs to be geared to that. For the initial market research survey, I decided to print out posters with tear off tags that I distributed around local places to pique the interest of people in the area. I also contacted Facebook groups based in the area, hobnobbed friends and colleagues in the area, and their contacts. and sent an email to Artillery Arts, a local arts facilitator.

On the survey, I created a field where people could enter their email address if they were interested in hearing more. At the end of the week, when this is handed in, I will email these people to thank them for their contribution and give them an update of my plans. This will form an ongoing email newsletter.

I need to expand my audience base. From here, I plan to contact more local community structures, such as places of worship and charity to learn how to reach more people. I am to gain more qualitative feedback before proposing my project.

I intend to engage more people through partnerships that I will forge. Firstly, I want to get in with Artillery Press as they have a huge following and we will be able to mutually help each other,. Then, with the Mills Community Space where I hope to hold the first workshops. For production of the publication, I would like to partner with Paekarikiriki Press, the local letterpress studio, and Rabbit Road Press, riso printers, so that we can work together and promote the project.

Throughout this, I am to be in touch online with people and establishing a respected presence online in the Facebook groups. I plan to write small articles for Waltham Forest Echo, the local newspaper with photos of the workshops to include people in later stages of the process. There are some non-English language local newspapers too, and I’ll try to do them same in them.

The overlap between the two audiences will be social media and a website. I am personally not keen on Facebook, but given that there are several groups on there, I will have to consider setting up a business page as a hub for information. On Instagram, I will set up a page where I can share content from the project as it goes along and calls for action. I will also make a hashtag so that people can share their own content too.

To advertise the project, I can use the content that has been collected from the sessions, such as videos and photos (permission given, of course) taken by a professional to send out as press. The Instagram page will have a natural wealth of content from the project and give it gravitas. Setting up a website will provide content to the press – such as a press section, names of contributors and details where to buy the publication.

In the same way that Alec suggested in his lecture, reaching out to people with ready made content seems like a great way to go. I’d need someone to help me write (thank God I can usually ask editors to proof read) and maybe I can ask people on the project to write about what they’ve done.

Next year I will qualify for the D&AD New Blood Awards, and provided that there is a suitable category I will submit the project in the awards and for a showcase in the exhibition.

For this project, I think that hiring a PR agency will be overkill and exceed the budget. However having quality images to send out is essential so I will include budget for a photographer/videographer to capture the project to send out to press and to record it as it goes.

Design and create a prototype or series of prototypes, in the media of your choice, through fast iteration, testing and development, to help an audience or business partner see the potential of your proposition.

My authorial artefact is a framework, and a framework that depends on a project that I can’t complete in a week. The outcomes depend on the community workshops … so I need to think about this for a bit.


I made a tiled image of lots of different doodled letters to illustrate the PDF and show how much letters can vary:

And then I mocked up how a publication could look without influencing the outcome too much:

Create and communicate a one page outline or short video of next steps, and even production partners, to support any future development.

Week 12: Promote and Test


  • Research, analyse and select media that can be deployed to effectively solve a creative challenge related to location.
  • Develop a design approach to solve a creative challenge.
  • Make, design and deliver a two minute film presentation that highlights the challenge you have tried to solve and the design you have created to solve it.

Research and discover issues that relate to your locality and post them on the Ideas Wall. Direct engagement and potential collaboration is encouraged to engage with relevant local communities to identify issues.

Ideas Wall

Made with Padlet

Project 2 – Outcome and Ambition


  • Make and deliver a five minute presentation (Video, Keynote Presentation, Interactive PDF or similar) to evaluate the success of your industry project. Add initial reflections onto the Ideas Wall, to gain peer reflection, and post the final presentation in your blog.
  • Communicate an evaluation of the industry set project outcome and reflect on the project evolution, strategy, innovation, user testing, positioning, final delivery and success at reaching the target audience. Post your final analysis in your blog.
  • Design and deliver the final outcome of your industry set project. Post visual developments on the Ideas Wall, including the final outcome, and use your blog to reflect on detailed development.

Make and deliver a five minute presentation (Video, Keynote Presentation, Interactive PDF or similar) to evaluate the success of your industry project. Add initial reflections onto the Ideas Wall, to gain peer reflection, and post the final presentation in your blog.

Please see this post for my presentation video.

Communicate an evaluation of the industry set project outcome and reflect on the project evolution, strategy, innovation, user testing, positioning, final delivery and success at reaching the target audience. Post your final analysis in your blog.


I would love to carry on this project so that I could:

  • Thoroughly embed game principles in the design
  • Work with curators to develop a range of levels for the game
  • Build a machine-learning database that could generate its own levels
  • Test these levels on a wide range of visitors to the Science Museum website and get feedback from possible players
  • Develop the game using Unity to improve the visual look of it.

Personal evaluation

  • This was an incredibly interesting and in-depth project and to start with I was excited about getting into coding an interface, before realising my time would be better spent concentrating on the ‘bigger picture’ concept.
  • I lost time this way by being too concerned by the back-end process and how to demonstrate it rather than the overall final outcome.
  • My first iteration linked objects in the game by using the metadata that already exists in the collection, but this was seen as boring and unengaging compared to what it could be.
  • The feedback that I gained from John Stack of the Science Museum, games developers and an art director was vital in transforming my final outcome.
  • By demonstrating links that would be interesting, the feedback shaped my project and to transform it into a game that people of all ages and backgrounds could interact with.
  • My final outcome wandered from my original positioning statement in that it isn’t focussed on being used by intergenerational groups, however the audience has broadened to players of all ages.
  • Other concepts I presented did match my positioning statement in this regard more, however initial feedback led me to the concept I did.

Design and deliver the final outcome of your industry set project. Post visual developments on the Ideas Wall, including the final outcome, and use your blog to reflect on detailed development.

Final outcome


As I got feedback from John Stack and others that linking metadata was not interesting, I decided to borrow a connecting link from James Burke’s Connections TV show in the 90’s to provide an interesting narrative:




There’s also the option to select a multi-choice answer to make the links, in an easier version of the levels based on the description so that the players have to engage:



Correctly linking objects will allow users to score points too:



When the player exits the game, they will have several things to take away with them. One, their score based on the connections of how they performed in the games and how well they navigated around the collections:


Two, a visualisation of the paths they have taken through the collection on each journey so that they can see the objects in perspective and see how far they can go. If the user has had multiple sessions, they can see all their journeys on the map.


Three, a piece of artwork generated from the objects the user has seen in this session viewed in a number of ways, shared on social media:




Ideas Wall

Made with Padlet

Week 12: Critical Reflective Journal

Susanna Edwards in conversation with Maziar Raein

How equipped am I? Arghh! I experienced doubt in myself listening to the first part. How much do I know about the history of design to really be able to express it in a new and original way: you have to know the rules in order to break them.

Raein referred to the history of the design industry, saying that previously the tension between commercial and self-initiated work for designers used to be greater, and that created very interesting work, whereas now designers focus on brands and topics that interest them and they feel are making the world better. I wonder if this shift occurred due to the rise of individualism, and people wanting to have a more authentic connect with brands. As connections between designer and brands become more transparent on the internet, the audience expects the designer to follow the creed they design for.

The lecture moved onto craft, and what it now means. To Raein and Edwards, craft has shifted from maintaining tradition to new ways of creating depth of understanding and detail and finding novel uses for the materials around you. By doing this, you can still maintain a respect for the tradition of crafts such as letterpress, but by using it in a new way you can create a shift in understanding.

Raein suggests creating sketchbooks and personal libraries so that a designer is creating constraints on their references and forming their own frameworks. I’ve previously written about sketchbooks and how I need to start compiling one in order to “discover my own sensibilities”. From there, I will hopefully be able to start detecting the edges, as Raein describes, and others’ too.

To look into:

  • Ryan Gander: Loose Associations
  • Bishopsgate Institute
  • John Burgess: Shape of a Pocket

Case Studies

What are the potential future definitions of design practice?

Returning to our case studies! These have been an amazing part of the course because of the range of practitioners being shown and they have different responses, showing the spectrum of the industry.

Manchipp said that the scope of designers is becoming wider, and that we should find exciting starting points rather than getting stuck down too early in decisions as typefaces. This is something I’m really trying to take to heart because my day-to-day job is so detail-orientated, as is my mind, that to zoom out (like in Power of 10) to consider the bigger image first.

In contrast, Winston feels that design is going to focus more on what problems are we as a society going to have, and where is culture going? With the advent of two-hundred-and-eighty character tweets, images, multiple outlets for media and news, our attention is being constantly split. Should designers utilise this and create small bites of design or design projects that consciously go against this and capture more of our audience’s attention?

Regular Practice has found success in ranging across many disciplines from graphic to product design as they see design as becoming much vaguer than before. The ubiquitous use of the internet means that ideas and designs can be transmitted internationally. However, in order to stand out, design has also become more individual for each market and clients appreciate beautiful pieces of well-crafted print that are as much about the process and design as the content.

The overall message from these answers is that we need to diversify our skills, because clients expect us to be multi-talented.

What are the sectors that might change, or need to change?

Each designer answered with a different nuance, but I think it is fair to sum up the responses with the following points:

  • No matter how the design will be released to an audience, it always comes down to connecting with people
  • Through history, it is the ideas that have endured, not the mode: for example, Picasso’s Guernica
  • The expectation is that creatives have many skills and are able to apply them across different media and that they are able to collaborate with many others
  • The industry can create pockets (or silos, or categories) but it is necessary to disrupt these. In doing so, different pockets might be created, so smash those too
  • Clients sometimes listen more because they don’t know either, so treating them like human (? Intro) is essential (of course it is).

Dunne, A. Raby, F., (2013) Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. Cambridge MA: MIT.

I wanted to look at this book, but couldn’t find a free online source, and the book costs £35 before payday.

TED (2017) Anab Jain: Why We Need to Imagine Different Futures.

What really struck me about Jain’s talk was her decision to not let the future happen her: she wants to make the future. She asks the audience how much do we push decisions to the future, both as individuals and as a society? She is being an active participant in the future by creating tools to bring aspects of possible futures to life.

The first example she used was how she and her company built drones based on how they felt there could be used in the future. For example, the Nightwatchman drone was able to fly over areas and use facial recognition to see who was there, and another was displayed information and advertising. By creating drones, they were able to experiment with how it felt to work alongside them and what it would mean for society: do we want this? Sometimes, the drones and technology went wrong, but this created and answered more questions.

The second example was an apparatus to show air quality in potential future cities so that people could breathe the future air, which was disgusting, and make decisions about the policies we want to enact for the future. A few days before I had been introduced to an AR possibility in a news app, and I thought it could be used to show people the lack of visibility in the air. This takes it to a whole new sensory level!

She’s found that facts are the starting point, but to really engage people a designer needs to create experiences that allow them to connect with the tangible outcomes of their decisions.

Connected projects

Whilst I looking into this week, I found the project called The Game: The Game. Angela Washko created a game to demonstrate the effect that tactics used by so-called pick-up-artists have on women, and how ubiquitous it is to the female experience. Many pick-up-artists use strategies based on video-game strategies, such as perseverance and ‘wearing-down’, and so to use the format as a way to highlight the problem is a stroke of genius. Ultimately, it is supposed to raise awareness of how female-identifying people are approached and targetted by people using such tactics, and how this makes people feel. Joe also pointed out the work by Frederikke Frydenlund at the RCA, which works on a similar level.

Things I want to do in the break

  • Coding and digital languages: I think it’s really important to stay on top of new technologies and languages, especially with coding being taught in schools. People not that much younger than me will have a solid foundation that I need to build up myself to remain innovative and competitive. I’ve been refreshing my CSS skills throughout this module so that I can layout this blog how I want, and once hand-in is completed I want to expand to Java to create kinetic type …
  • Kinetic type: I enjoy typography so I want to make some projects where the type moves to add another element to the project
  • Data visualisation: somewhat connected to the coding skills, and a way to expand my skillset (note to self: start here)
  • After-Effects and Premiere Pro: Get a solid base in the programmes so that I can use them in the future
  • Break things and distort images and type: because in a lot of projects that I admire, the designer has used novel ways to deconstruct and reconstruct elements.

Week 12: New Steps

Studio Practice

Take a graphic design interest that you are familiar with and investigate how the idea can be improved, disrupted or retold through a shift of application.

This might be an opposing media or environment ( e.g from book to installation, packaging to performance) or an opposing time or fictional future (e.g. speculative design). You can tell the story of your idea in any medium, but ensure the shift you make with your project is apparent, courageous and driven by risk and a rationale.

Initial Ideas

  • A friend working for an international news broadcaster has created a framework within the app which allows AR tools to be displayed to illustrate the news story. The first idea they would like to create is a big block of carbon in front of you to demonstrate how much we emit into the atmosphere a year.
    • One idea I had to use the new technology he has coded would be, with climate change and flooding becoming an increasing inevitability, to show how much sea levels could rise over the coming decades. The user would be able to aim the frame at the ground to see how much they and their surroundings would be underwater. This takes detecting geographic location and altitude from the user and gathering data from different climate change models and displaying CGI water in the framework.
    • Another idea shows air pollution. Before anyone says, “that sounds like what Anab Jain produced and presented in her TED talk“, I thought of this last Wednesday before the course material was released. The AR framework would take in local surroundings and reduce visibility to the user based on air pollution models and recorded data from previous air pollution events (like the Great Smog of London) and current air quality in Beijing.
  • My second idea focusses on a different looming horror: Brexit. Over the weekend, a document detailing plans for Operation Yellowhammer, which lays out plans for a worst-case scenario no-deal Brexit, and what shortages we could expect to face. The document was written as highly sensitive and not to leave department buildings, and written in March this year, but was only leaked on Sunday. There are a number of shortages detailed: fuel, food, and medicine; and I began to think how this might affect everyone.
    • Food: Would it be possible to have a pop-up supermarket displaying all the prices we might expect after price rises or shortages? What would we have to sacrifice in our daily/weekly shop to fit what was available and what we could afford?
    • Medicine: Many of us take different types of medicine, and although some are life-critical in hospitals, millions more rely on medications to maintain their conditions. I am one of them as I have no thyroid glands (hypothyroidism) and take levothyroxine to replace the thyroxine that my body would otherwise make. It’s not a critical condition, by any stretch of the imagination, but to be without it for a sustained amount of time would have an effect on my day-to-day life. What does a potential shortage of medication mean for people with far more serious managed conditions, such as diabetes (insulin needs to be kept refrigerated), epilepsy or severe mental health conditions?

Decision: Medications and Brexit


A family member is a pharmacist and has advised me to make sure that if there is a break in supply, that I have enough supply to cover it. So, selfishly, I have.

As of February 2019, the government has asked suppliers of “7,000 prescription-only and pharmacy medicines” to maintain a six-week stockpile in case of a no-deal Brexit (Clewes, 2019). Reliable data for names of medications being stockpiled, or not stockpiled, is sparse. This is in part because pharmaceutical bodies, such as “The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA), the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) have also confirmed that they have signed NDAs issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).” and that “A spokesperson for the DHSC said the NDAs are used “to protect the commercial interests of the government and its suppliers”.” (Wickware, 2019).

This has been problematic and that as a result of the NDAs, “Warwick Smith, director general of the BGMA, said the agreements were hindering his organisation’s ability to give guidance to its own members” (Wickware, 2019).

The official line is that everything will be fine and that hospitals and pharmacies have no need to order above their normal stock levels. The government has gone so far as to issue a statement saing that “any incidences involving the over ordering [sic] of medicines will be investigated and followed up with the relevant Chief or Responsible Pharmacist directly” (Hancock, 2019)

To retain control and to stop hospitals over-ordering, I can understand the directions from the government. However, it does not assuage the worries of the end-users of medication, such as myself and others. News articles over the past year have switched between ‘don’t stockpile’ and ‘prepare to keep a supply’, and what, and who, should we trust?



Keeping a supply of medication against advice, potentially to the detriment of the health service (if everyone did it) shows me how little trust I have in the government to deliver a smooth exit from the European Union. I voted to remain in the union and am deeply unhappy with the referendum result, but at this time all I can do is to prepare myself.

However, this led to the thought: Mistrust of the government and the ruling elite was part of the reason that the UK voted to leave the European Union. I am now the one feeling unheard, and that my health is being used in a political game, against the years of the people who voted for Brexit also feeling like they weren’t listened to.

How can I demonstrate this?

  • Union flag: make out of different colour tablets and blow away?
  • Ticking down counter to tablets to show each of day between the referendum and (proposed) leaving date, which is 1222 days
  • Effervescent tablets (discounted)
  • Corn syrup blood slow-mo filling the page (discounted)


So far, I have decided to create a collage of tablets to form a Union Flag, and this is where I have got to:


The background helps me see the white tablets. In a longer-term project, I would source tablets of this colour and size and stop-motion them being but into position. As the time is short, InDesign is doing the job. I did discuss with Stuart the irony of using 1222 tablets to create this whilst tablets are being stockpiled.


When the tablets are laid out…

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Writing a script that will export the tablets to the layers for stop motion graphics. It’s slow!

I’ve got a few files to come out, and have managed to render them into a video. It’s rather raggedy, but here’s the link!

For reflection, if I were to do this again, I would add the sounds of a ticking clock or beep as every pill disappeared. I would include some zooming in as the number got smaller, and I would vary the speed of the pills disappearing as negotiations went badly or terribly.


Wickware, C. (2019). Industry and pharmacy bodies confirm signing government ‘gagging orders’ over no-deal Brexit plans. [online] Pharmaceutical Journal. Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Hancock, M. (2019). No Deal Brexit – Continuity of Medicines Supplies – NECS Medicines Optimisation. [online] NECS Medicines Optimisation. Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].

Clewes, G. (2019). Government identifies 7,000 medicines for no-deal Brexit planning. [online] Pharmaceutical Journal. Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2019].