The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'jonathan barnbrook'

2012/7/28

In 2004, typographical troublemaker Jonathan Barnbrook updated the Olympic pictographs to account for the unsavoury realities of the modern Olympics, from rampant commercialism to restrictions on civil liberties. Now, Barnbrook has updated his pictograms for the 2012 Olympics, producing Olympukes 2012:

Because it was in London, where I live, a place I love. So the issues we discussed in the first Olympukes are even more keenly felt by us because it affects us so directly. There are so many issues surrounding the Olympics – about what has happened to the communities where the games are being held, the draconian restrictions because of every atom of it has been defined by sponsorship, and as a graphic designer the missed chance of the logo and the ignoring of the wealth of talent in graphic design for commissions such as the Olympic posters. The original idea of Olympukes was prompted by the almost religious treatment of the Olympic pictograms by designers. There was a time when it was one of the top jobs in design, where it was felt it could unify the human spirit. Now rather than being at the forefront of design in interpretation and concept it has become a cynical marketing exercise. I also think the idea of speaking to all nations a bit of a redundant concept. The world has fragmented; we now celebrate difference. Our idea of the pictogram as a transparent vehicle for communicating and idea also feels rather dated, the classic pictograms are loaded with western assumptions about the structure of society from the role gender to the material objects people own. This project clearly uses these to formulate an opinion which I think is a least more honest.
Olympukes 2012 is free for non-commercial use from FontShop.

jonathan barnbrook london olympics protest typography 0

2007/9/24

img 0205 This afternoon, I made my way to the Design Museum in London to see Friendly Fire: The Graphic Design of Jonathan Barnbrook. Barnbrook is probably best known for his fonts, particularly Ma(n)son Serif, a.k.a. "that 90s goth/metal/occult font" (last seen on a package of "sinfully delicious" cheesecake or somesuch; presumed dead of overexposure). He also did a lot of political/protest work, including design for Adbusters magazine and surreptitious flyposting during Bush's visit to London, and some of these works were on show at the exhibition, along with context.

There were examples of fonts he had designed, the influences he drew on (Barnbrook is a keen historian of vernacular design, and many of his fonts refer to bits of it — from Edward Johnston's Underground type to Yugoslavian Communist brand lettering to the Lindisfarne Gospels), along with related context (such as how Mason was originally named Manson, but Emigre renamed it after being deluged with letters of protest, and Barnbrook's surprise at how Exocet was used by a neo-Nazi group for its website). There were also examples of more recent typefaces, which included NixonScript (a "font to tell lies with"), Expletive (a cursive font with two sets of forms, one which goes above the base line and one below), Prozac (a font made up of just six shapes in various rotations) and the Shock & Awe series), and a set of alternative Olympic symbols named "Olympukes" (and free for non-commercial use), with symbols for things like bribery, reinforcement of oppressive regimes and ridiculous made-up sports. There was also a section of artwork riffing off North Korean propaganda art and mashing it up with Western commercial design (such as Kim Jong Il as Colonel Sanders; in some ways, this was a little like Banksy's "Santa's Ghetto" salon, only with better design/more thought/less punk-rock attitude).

The exhibition is on until the 10th of October, if you're interested in this sort of thing.

design exhibition jonathan barnbrook typography 1

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