Format Workshop

For this task we explored the topic of post modernist typography and its application, through the use of visual manipulation of written media. Post modernist design relates to the system used to create a piece, it lacks the formality and rigidity in rules and grid that we have so far worked with.



Here are a few examples.

These posters are highly abstract as the definition would suggest. What’s important about graphic communication is the effectiveness of the design to communicate it’s content, obviously. While these posters follow no pattern appear to have no grid system and no consistent typeface, they are eye catching, beautiful pieces which are easily read. To the trained eye there is clear reason behind each design choice that went into these works.

Our task was to take what we know of post modern design and create visual works to represent spoken words as accurately as possible. We were asked to reflect on the tone, emphasis, length and volume of each word and represent that in a visual medium using ink on an A1 sheet using ink and brushes. We were played three short audio clips of Stephen Fry.

Grammatical – ‘Please let me go on, I’m dying to see how it all turns out’

Phonetic – ‘Pleeease let-me-go-on…I’m DYING to seeee how-it-all, turns out’


First Piece

The aim was to represent the spoken sentence as accurately as possible i a visual medium. Sadly, I cannot include an audio clip but I feel it is a promising sign that with all the pieces I created during the workshop, I can read them back at remember clearly the words spoken by Stephen Fry.The heavy emphasis and elongation of the word ‘please’ and the sharpness of the ‘dy’ or ‘dying’. Imade the choice to link’let me go on’ together as a singe word owing to the  complete lack of any pause between their use.


With this design I wanted to expand my repertoire of techniques for conveying the pattern of speech in the audio clip. As well as emphasising pitch and emphasis with the lettering’s size, I layered the page to break up the sentence into its component pieces. ‘Please let me go on’ is spoken as a stream of words with no obvious break, before a slight pause for ‘I’m’. I decided this should sit on its own as  bridges the gaps between two almost separate parts of the sentence. ‘Dying’ is said with such emphasis that visually it feels right that it should be defined on its own layer.

Grammatical – ‘He was so famous, simply for the way he dressed’

Phonetic – ‘He was SO-FAmous. Simply…For the way…He dressed’

Piece 1

With this poster I decided to stretch the bounds of visual and phonetic typography a little further. I wanted the words ‘was’ and ‘so’ to appear to melt into one another as they do in Fry’s speech. At the same time the pitch and volume of the ‘S’ creeps upwards and I used size to show this. The ‘O’ of famous is also slightly louder and therefore slightly larger. ‘Simply’ ‘For the way’ and ‘He dressed’ are spoken almost as separate sentences, the emphasis placed on each by long pauses, no pitch tone change. I therefore elected to give them each a separate line. Again, Fry’s speech is relaxed and flowing such that ‘for the way’ is an unbroken single sound, which is why I wrote it as ‘futhuwaaay’. The pause at the end is so great I felt ‘he dressed’ should be emphasised further as distant from the previous words.

Piece 2

Using the same clip I created this piece, it follows almost the same lines of thinking as the first piece, but looks entirely different when compared side by side. This conveyed to me the subjective nature of this task. Both pieces, to me, accurately represent the words of Fry. However looking around the room, no two examples bore more than a passing resemblance to one another. Each however was recognisably displaying this spoken sentence. Context is vital in this line of work, knowing the mind of those who will view your work is key to producing something that will be received favourably.

‘I have nothing to declare, except my genius’

‘I have nOthing-to-declare…except my geniUS’

Piece 1

With this piece I wanted to convey the way Fry starts the sentence quietly with the volume rising to the ‘O’ of ‘ nothing before trailing off towards the end of the word ‘declare’. There is a sizeable pause before ‘Except my genius’ is  uttered. The tone here is pretty level, however he does enunciate the ‘X’ of ‘except’ which is why it is larger and uses a serif typeface. I may have strayed slightly into imagery with the word ‘genius’ which is vaguely representative of a human brain, which I thought was too good an opportunity to miss as it depicts the word ‘genius’ and the outline resembles somewhat a ‘G’. I personally liked this piece although I’m uncertain whether an objective observer would say it properly followed the stated brief.

At the end of the lecture David seemed genuinely curious whether this workshop had been of an use to us as a mental exercise to change our mindset going into typographic tasks. I have to admit it was a rather abstract and unusual way to spend an afternoon but I personally have struggled most with inspiration in the more abstract tasks we’ve been set up to this point. This task was an opportunity to expand my thinking and learn different techniques when approaching typographic challenges.




Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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