Week 13: activity development

A lot of my feedback from December focussed around the activities, as this was the most significant part of what I passed by the tutors. I’ve gone back and worked on them several times, run them by people in the community and who run local workshops, and I have also passed it by Cassie Yates of Knots Arts CIC who regularly engages people in participatory arts projects. Here is where they are:

Most of the changes focus on the language that I use: although I had attempted to make it suitable for a non-design audience, Cassie Yates suggested that I make some changes. Typography has become lettering: even though the words are not technically interchangeable, people are more likely to recognise what lettering is and the word sounds less intimidating. Sentences are broken down and relevant information more visible by cutting out extraneous details. It is a hard balance: to give the reader enough information in order to complete the task and not leave them confused but not overwhelm them with detail. However, with feedback from Cassie I feel like the balance has been reached.


Week 13 Overview

And at the end of January, Week 13 begins! I wasn’t idle with the course and used the time to do research and have an experiment. In all:


This week we had a webinar, and here is my presentation for it:

There are some links that people recommended to me:


Stuart put me onto a Studio that used to be in Walthamstow and thought they might have an interesting perspective. I haven’t heard back yet!

Daire’s Interviews

Daire’s interviews for his final output where listed as a good resource for me to look at.

Other media – TikTok and Facebook

Alice suggested I get on TikTok, which pains me, but I know is good to do.

Visual Experiments: Motifs

Apart from the typefaces, I want to have motifs to use throughout.

letter grid

I used this lettergrid in my previous hand-in and I want to carry on with it. It can be used as a feature or a texture, and shows the full range we can push letters whilst they retain their legibility.


Because of my background in sewing, I’ve always been intrigued by using threads and lines to draw together and divide. By connecting different elements I can spark different associations in people’s minds, and as I plan to have a printed object as part of my hand-in, I can used actual thread for the binding and across pages.

I’d like these to have more of a texture, and I experimented with different implements.

I can use images of the same location from the past and present to show the difference between the typogrphy used. For example, St James Street:

This is what I can do to show images front different eras and how the time has changed.

Visual Experiments: Logo

As you know, this project came from a previous module, and so I have a fair amount of branding already done. Still, I think it’s good to test out a few things to make sure I can make the best out of it.


I am using the typefaces Archia (san serif) and Calendas (serif) from the Atipo Foundry – I like pairing the typefaces from the same foundry as it gives a more cohesive feel. Both have a few difference styles in the font families, but not so many to be overwhelming. Calendas Plus is a serif font with a pleasing stroke contrast and is suitable for long stretches of text. It also has some interesting discretionary ligatures as extra glyphs (see the as and us below) that give it a special feel without being too distracting for the reader.

Archia has a modern geometric feel that contrasts to the traditional feel of Calendas. The ‘a’ is single story, like Calendas, and some letters like the lowercase ‘l’ have slab serifs to make reading easier. The descender of the ‘g’ has a flattened base, and the ampersand has a flattened top loop, which gives it some distinction. It can be used for very heavy text, for captions in small sizes, or in lightweight spaced capitals for headings.


I’ve checked the licenses for these typefaces and I can use them for what I want. I have bought them.

“this font family can be used for personal and commercial works. you can use this font at a single home or business location on a maximum of five (5) cpus.

  • you can do any kind of design work with this font family, including logo/trademarks design.
  • the font may be used in editable embedding pdfs and other similar documents.
  • the font may be used in e-publications.
  • this font family can be embed into one (1) website (unlimited pageviews) so that it can be displayed on any browser.”

The logotype uses a scribbled graphic style that is used to sketch out how a typeface might look in the first stages:

The top line has been drawn over with felttip pen to give a pleasing ragged edge then scanned.

I wanted to experiment with the thickness and density of the scribbles making up the letters, so used different pens, pencils, crayon and charcoal with varying strokes to achieve this. Here are my experiments and notation about what worked and what didn’t.

I also found that I like the ‘e’ tilted so that the crossbar is pointing upwards rather than horizontal.

I do really like the current logo because Stowe has a pleasing weight and neatness that I didn’t achieve in the new experiments whilst still retaining a craftiness. I don’t like writing the Framework underneath – I’d rather have it typed – because it provides contrast and looks more polished.

Research methodologies

My feedback suggested that I start to look at research methodologies and get to grips with them. So, last night I found the wonderful book VISUAL RESEARCH: AN INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES IN GRAPHIC DESIGN (Noble and Bestley) and went through the whole thing making notes:

Granted, I have not yet applied this to my own work, but it’s a start. Here are a few quotes that I can use:

“designers can also operate as mediators – that they can take responsibility for the content and context of a message as well as the more traditional means of communication. The focus for the designer might be on the transmission of their own ideas and messages, without the need for a client or commissioner, but sill remaining fixed on the effectiveness of communicating with an audience.” (Page 43)

“Type carries a resonance with its intended audience – not only does it carry meaning through the content of the written words themselves, it also communicates through composition and the semiotic reading of type as image.” (Page 63)

“Designers have a responsibility to create work which is both accessible and understandable to its intended audience.” (Page 72)

“Barnes was interested in displaying alternative visual signs that demonstrated human intervention and the traces of its use as both a social and an architectural space.”(Page 72)

“The recognition that designed objects exist within a social structure, and are read by their receivers from a particular cultural perspective, is central to an understanding of audience-specific graphic design. While certain forms of graphic design may offer some claim to the modernist objectives of universality and mass communication, much contemporary design work operates within more limited boundaries. As such, a sense of familiarity with the graphic languages already understood by the target audience is crucial to the development of effective design solutions” (Page 121)

“Necessity, budget and the speed of production can play a major role in limiting the range of materials selected to complete a project.” (Page 147)

(Noble, I. and Bestley, R., 2004. Visual Research. Lausanne: Ava Publishing SA.)

All of these I have collected into a Word document of quotes for my Critical Report, of course using proper Harvard referencing).

Followup needed

  • Situationists and the Power of Maps by Denis Word
  • Swiss lingist “Language can be understood as a system of signs
  • Rubbish theory by Michael Thompson
  • Post structuralism and deconstruction
  • Derrida on Grammatology

Rhetoric of Neutrality

This is an example led piece that concludes that “Nothing is free of rhetoric, that visual manifestations emerge from particular historical circumstances, that ideological vacuums do not exist” (Page 29, JSTOR)

Kinross, R., 1985. The Rhetoric of Neutrality. Design Issues, [online] 2(2), p.18. Available at: <https://www.jstor.org/stable/1511415&gt; [Accessed 7 January 2021]. (Kinross, 1985)

Thinking about ethnography

I’m trying to think more out loud about the research methodologies I am employing, sometimes without realising, and sometimes without noting it. I’ve also faced some barriers with regards to Covid-19 restrictions and wanting to be safe, but also with deadlines this is the time that I want people to be able to going out exploring and reporting back to me, but they can’t. By analysing my own position, I hope to move forward with my plan and get others involved, somehow.

I am in Walthamstow, its own area of London that is well connected to the centre but far enough out to foster its own identity. I live here, and I am studying here, and this have been able to form my own impression of the area and its typographic environment. However, I am not integrated into the community by any means. My family does not reside here, and friends I have in the locale have been made through activities or employment completely separate to Walthamstow. This separation gives me the advantage of some degree of objectivity bevcause I am not embedded into one particular section of the community and can therefore see across them and over barriers.

That doesn’t mean that I am objective, by any means. I cannot be, and I need to be aware of being white, middle-class, mono-lingual and English within a multicultural community. I do have blindness that I need to overcome.

The disadvantages of me not being integrated into the community are that I have no established network through which to learn from or to spread the project through. This comes from internal and external factors. Internal factors include me not putting myself out there and being comfortable to make conversations that lead to conversations. External factors include that I moved to the area from a way away just as I started this course. Working full time and studying aren’t conducive to outside socialising at 60+ hours a week. Additionally, some opportunities such as zoom calls (important to my next point) have been at the same time as my course commitments. The Covid-19 outbreak has restricted groups and casual communication: people are far less likely to stop and talk to strangers considering that the virus is airborne. Opportunities to sit and chat to people in pubs, cafes and parks have also been reduced.

Virtual groups, for imnstance the Artillery Arts online group I went to, tend to be people all very much in the same boat as me (wanted to facilitate) rather than to join in, and also very similar to me socially. Efforts to contact volunteer and council services have gone answered, even with many prompts, because services have come under immense strain and jobs have been furloughed and people still in roles overstretched.

So … all these might seem like complaints but they are issues that have genuinely hindered the primary research of my project. How am I going to surmount them?

I noted (somewhere on the blog) about my conversation with Artillery Arts, a local arts facilitation company. This was in October, so post-lockdown 1.0 and life was opening up but infection numbers were rising again. They said that Zoom (and alike) meetings and sessions were initially very well attended, but as life pressures set in people dropped off and were less likely to engage this way. Zoom meetings do seem an easy way to go, but require a lot of effort, as I saw when attending Sarah Hyndmann’s TypeTasting sessions. They also attract people already interested in typography and I want to include people outside of that.

I’m still thinking how to make this work in this environment, and I need to go and do more research!