_for the love of letters


Letterforms are lovely. They just are - luscious and lyrical, lively, laying out our bare-faced feelings in explicit detail with the power to throw you into a rage or make your eyes leak. I've seen them catch your eye, before you even realised what was happening!

Okay, this is sounding horribly nerdy of me, but after all it's my job to notice what catches your eye, and why, and I have seen time and again that people swoop on chunky pieces of typography before even reading what the letters say, and this makes me think about the power of those little shapes.



My friends at Valuable Content recently showed me a souped-up presentation they liked because it contained loads of 'fonty fun' (a phrase they've coined for the love of letters) and five minutes after flicking through it, even though I was still thinking about the clever 'playbill' layouts with a mash-up of retro fonts that kept us examining the pages I remembered nothing of the message itself. This, friends, is a communication fail. In that context, the message was so important but it was lost under a frilly, ego-centric designer's need to be noticed. Meow. I can say that, I've done it too.



The thing is, sometimes, letterforms don't need to say much beyond the surface because they speak loud enough just as they are. Context will tell you when this is alright to not care what the word says; the environment where you find the letterforms will tell you whether they need to read with explicit meaning and clear messaging, or just convey a flavour of something by their shape and form alone.

The photographs I've selected here are from a trip to Portland, Oregon. I made them because they conjured up the essence of where I was and the vibe around us, rather than what they explicitly said. These share a flavour of the streets and show the wallpaper of a fantastic trip full of ideas and culture and heartfelt chat.




Lovely aesthetics can be strong emotional magnets in the same way that a piece of music can strike deep without apparent reason. It's worth being aware of that stickiness when we're casting our glances about, looking for inspirations and information, thinking of how we communicate our own messages.

There can be more to your messaging through informed use of good typographic design, because we long to communicate with truth, integrity and maybe too the courtesy of allowing others to respond.

But, for the love of letters, have fun playing.

It can take a lifetime to get right, because letterforms have the power to express things you can't put into words.