Please refer to Easter: Glyph submission.
This submission is from Jess for the glyph workshop:
She wanted to go for a minimalist look and chose the following features. She lives near Blackhorse Road, and so included a black horse and the construction work cranes that are next to the station. There is an old building that was a music venue on the corner that has a bold striped colour scheme. She loves to walk around the area, particularly the Wetlands, so drew a flower. As Walthamstow is her home, she has put a little house tucked away in the top left and one of her cats in the right. She loves the community spirit in the past year so has a rainbow in the shadow. Great work, Jess!
I devised the first activity of Stowe Framework and detailed the results of the first alpha test here. In the Area Survey, the participants are asked to take a short walk around an area of E17 and take photographs of typography (or lettering, as I described it) and remember where they took them. When they returned home, they choose five examples of lettering, mark the examples’ positions on a map of Walthamstow and answer some questions. One purpose of the activity was to add more examples to the photo archive. More than that, the underlying motive is to enable the participants to start thinking about how they undertake the challenge. In asking them to submit only five examples to me, they curate their experience rather than unthinkingly responding.
I have copied out the questions with my reasons for asking:
Looking at your photos, did you start to favour certain types of lettering? Can you guess why that might have been?
Here, I want the participants to notice patterns about their preferences and a reason for their bias. For example, a couple of remaining ghost signs feature advertisements for printing presses and typewriters, and the owner of a local publisher might find these fascinating. I intend these to lead to further qualitative research between myself and the participant.
Did you stick to a route, or did you let yourself wander? Did anything draw you off your expected route? What was it?
I am curious about the participant’s mindset: do they start with a rigid plan, or do they wander? How they react to unexpected stimuli? The questions are deliberately broken down into easy clauses to allow comprehension by many people.
Did you find the lettering you were expecting? What surprised you?
Like the questions above, I want to understand the participant’s preconceptions and if they are open to being challenged.
What do you think the lettering tells you about the area you surveyed? What kind of lettering would you like to see more of in E17?
Now, I am eliciting their opinion of what the lettering says about their area rather than speculating, and giving them a chance to shape the area in the future.
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.
I like breaking things down by using post-it notes and laying it out. To work out how I was going to structure my workshops, I used this technique and video-ed it. Here’s a video of it:
As part of my research, I’d like to send people out to conduct an area survey of sorts where they take photos of typography in the E17 postcode that interest them. As a break from the screen, I decided to conduct an area survey to address the tasks I would ask participants to do and what questions might come up.
In the E17 postcode there are three commercial hubs: the famous high street that is the longest in Europe, Wood Street and the Village. On a run last night, I ran along Wood Street and would like to go back, but decided to go to the Village today. For an Area Survey, I don’t expect participants to cover these areas, but thought that people would be drawn to those areas and where the typography would be intended to lure people/customers in.
I set myself a few rules:
- The walk would take about an hour
- I would take photos on my phone to get the location
- I would track my walk on Strava to get a map of where I went
- I would take photos as I would like my participants to do so
- I would have an open mind
- I would stay in public access areas
- I would cover Walthamstow Village and the streets around, as my feet took me.
At first I wanted to take photos of everything, to record every piece of type. This was not possible, and with lots of people around I felt self-conscious and intrusive. I started to edit, and pick what I thought was interesting, thus following my own bias. On my own, I can never portray a nuanced account of typography in Walthamstow and participants from other backgrounds are essential to see what I overlook.
An hour is about right to capture a wide range of typography in about two miles without being too physically taxing or time-consuming. The area and demographics change significantly between streets and this can be captured in this hour.
I’d like the participants to take as many photos as they can, before choosing their favourite five, like our geo-type challenge. This means that they are exerting their insight and curatorial bias and many things can be told from that.
Although I can’t read other scripts apart from Latin, I’d like participants to feel free to record all and any scripts they find.
Once they have submitted photos, I would like them to answer some questions, some of which I have drafted below:
Questions for After
Looking at your photos, did you start to favour certain types of typography? Can you guess why that might have been?
Did you stick to a rough route, or did you let yourself wander?
What drew you off your expected route?
Did you find the typography you were expecting?
What surprised you?
What do you think the typography tells you about the area you surveyed?
What would you like to see more of?