New and (hopefully) Improved

My personal tutorial gave me a new lease of creative life and I quickly began redesigning my project, taking all the best bits of my existing work and applying them to a fresh design.

 I immediately began scouring the library and the web for ephemera designs to act as inspiration, as a kind of mood board. One place I found a lot of useful resources was on Pinterest. It’s not much use for academic work as very little of it’s work is sourced. But ilI found some fantastic ephemera designs. 

Using these as my inspiration. I decided to create a grid design with a series of related images. 

Here is my completed poster design. I decided to give LenCorbusier pride of place in the center of my poster as it is difficult to talk about anything Brutalist without mentioning him, he’s the linchpin.

 I did try the poster on a white background, but the contrast between true black and the vibrant colours of my design gave the image far more force. My options were really only on the monochrome spectrum as the coloured text would be lost of a coloured background. 

David had suggested I use a typeface called ‘Akkurat’ but I was unable to source it and so I decided to go with Helvetica. The reasons for this are numerous. It’s a clean San serif font, given the topic a serif font would be inappropriate. It is also versatile. It comes in many weights and styles. It’s also just a really good fallback for most projects. 

Im really pleased with my poster at this point and it was the driving force behind the rest of my ephemera. 

Here is my ticket design, entirely derived from the poster to maintain a consistent graphic style.

I also mocked up a bus stop poster in order to demonstrate its aesthetic in a real world scenario. 

My T-shirt design with exhibition and venue logos (front)

And the same imagery as the ticket (rear)

My Thoughts 

I’m really pleased with the direction my project is taking even if it is at an alarmingly late stage. I’ve gone from doing what I can to have something to present, to taking a lot of pride in my work in a short space of time. With my new design principal finished and ready to apply to the remaining aspects of the project, I am confident I can complete the task on time and to a high standard. 


Personal Tutorial and work overhaul

I recently had a brief personal tutorial session with David. I showed him my ephemera and animation thus far and he seemed to have some positive things to say. He also, however, had a lot of useful advice and constructive criticism. 

We agreed that the typeface, although he liked it. Was barely legible when overlayed on a concrete background being of the same texture. The blending between the two was blurring the outlines of the type. 

He also suggested making the most of the type’s ability to push the exhibition’s message. It was suggested that I leave the ‘playground’ section of my ‘BRUTALIST PLAYGROUND’ title in full colour, to emphasise it’s playful nature. But to desaturate the word ‘brutalist’ to juxtapose the two words. 

Another suggestion was that ‘Brutalist Playground’ should act as both the title and logo of the exhibition. The typeface is far two abstract to work as body text and so I should explore other potential typefaces to work as my body text. 

 I found this brief encounter very helpful as I felt that my project had, once again, started to stall. After the meeting I immediately set to revamping my work and In my next post I will showcase my new and improved designs. 

Creating my Ephemera

Having created my typeface I have been trying to move forward with my project while taking the advice I was given in my recent tutorial session.

One piece of valuable feedback I got was to clarify my message. I needed to take a stance or try to educate people. My idea had been to make Brutalism more appealing. Or simply to help people understand its appeal if possible.

I was told that possibly my typeface was not playful enough. It was well received but it didn’t reflect my message. My solution has thrown up some interesting results.

So here is my finished typeface as it will look in my ephemera. I wanted to retain the rough concrete finish but add a little flamboyance. The colours are taken directly from a building in Berlin, the Bierpinsel (Beer Bush).

The Bierpinsel (Beer Bush) originally intended to look like a tree, it was completed in 1976

So this funky looking building was part of some work I have already been trying out. There was an effort to spruce up Berlin starting in 2010 called the Turmkunst (Tower Art) project. Notable Graffiti artists were given free reign to paint building such as the Bierpinsel.

The image has been edited by yours truly. I simply desaturated the background to highlight the vivid colours of the building itself. It’s a really beautiful example of the human interaction with architecture which I want to explore in my project.

I used the colours by taking swatches directly from this image and applying them in a semitransparent later over my letters. This left me with a vibrant typeface without the loss of its bare bones feel.

My reasons I chose the Bierpinsel for my colours are. One, I loved the random assortment of bright colours, some floors are one colour, some two, none of them matching any coordinated layout. And two, because I want to tie every element of my project together to showcase the beauty of Berlin’s Brutalist structures to best effect.

Using this new typeface, I decided to apply it to some ephemera and see if it would make a good base for a mark that would carry across platforms. As of yet I’ve only created an exhibition admissions ticket, but I’m really pleased with the outcome.

It’s very simplistic, but this isn’t an issue in my opinion, I think a crisp, minimalist design is inkeeping with the ethos of Brutalism. I played around a little with the vibrance and contrast of my colours and I think it has improved the final product.

The white bar on the edge may be preferred in the final design to allow the concrete element to be kept separately once the ticket has been used to gain entry. But that is yet to be decided.

I’m pleased with my progress thus far and I’m eager to see where the next big break in my project will come.

On Display – Update

So prior to this blog post I showed off my new typeface. I was very happy with the way it turned out but I felt there was something missing. 

The issue for me is that the forms I created are reminiscent of Brutlaism design. However the crisp clean lines and soft colours are very modernist and don’t conform to the look I’ve been aiming to achieve.

The word Brutalist is a play on the original term ‘brut’ which comes from the French for ‘raw’ as in ‘béton brut’ meaning ‘raw concrete’. This has not been reflected in my past attempts so I have since updated it’s look and here is the result: 

It’s gone from this…

To this…

This new look is far more rough and ready looking while retaining its high geometric accuracy. It is perfectly finished while feeling in some way unfinished or at least unrefined. 

While I’m very happy with this, my aim is to showcase Brutalist Architecture in a nuanced and playful manner. Showing the flamboyance that can be associated with some Brutalist designs. With regard to this, section 2 of this post explains my likely next move.

Group Tutorial

The reason I named this post as simply ‘update’ is that I had a group tutorial today in order for everyone to understand eachother’s processes and lend advice and a critical eye to one another’s projects. 

I was deeply impressed with some of the work I saw done on other topics. But the angles with which others went at Brutalist Architecture were really enlightening for me. It’s easy to get stuck in an echo chamber of ideas when you’re working on solo projects and this was refreshing. 


I got a lot of very constructive feedback on my project thus far. People liked my idea and my take on the subject. My typeface was well received but it was suggested that possibly it wasn’t expressing the potential playfulness in Brutalism. 

  • Brand should do more to express flamboyance and a human element. It should be enjoyable and relatable.

The idea is for me to redefine Brutalism for people who may have dismissed it. I need to show it off to the best of my ability. To show the exciting times for architecture that brought energy and wonder to an city on the frontline of potential war. 

Another aspect would be to explore the interaction brought about by Brutalist Architecture. The freedom to create at the time and the freedom that came after the wall fell and the country was united. Because the buildings were designed during war but have loutlasted it and exist now in a time of piece and inclusivity. 

  • Typeface Basic Forms

So one aspect of my typeface I was pleased with is the structure of each letter is made up on a few basic geometric shapes. 

These shapes combine to make every letter in my typeface. For this I think I can make more of this theme. 

It was suggested that I not only try and create a logo from these shapes. But also create building blocks, either out of these shapes of the completed typeface. 

The idea is that in order to make Brutalism fun it should be playful and interactive. Possibly visitors could build their own things out of the shapes. They could each create structures or write out sentences in what ever order they please. 

The simple shapes could represent the simple structural principles of Brutalist design, but each person could interpret it in their own way, showing the human element that the design philosophy at first appears to lack as well as the utility and diversity the style can create. 

My Thoughts

I’m really glad to have been to have had the tutorial to explore my brief and others as well as recieving a lot of useful feedback. As always, the first stages of this project really left me struggling to form a cohesive subject of study. 

Recently I have started making good progress, and this tutorial and given me a boost in ideas to explore so I feel it will have a great impact on my project outcome. 

Brutalist inspired typeface 

In my work on the ‘On Display’ brief I have struggled to produce polished work since nailing down a solid basis for my work presented me a lot of a difficulty. Now that I am at the stage of building my brand identity I am pleased to be progressing more smoothly. 

I have been mulling over the idea of producing my own typeface for the project for a while with sketches and doodles of how it could look. But recently I decided to collate all this and design my own typeface. 

Original ideas

My first idea was to create a type that had the appreance of segmented concrete construction inspired by the techniques of Brutalist Architecture. One hallmark of the movement is the replacement of tradition methods with a Lego esc construction of large blocks. 

This idea, although solid in theory, led to one quite ugly and simplistic lettering that I felt had limited potential. So I decided to adapt front there. 

Typeface exploring the use of Brutalist shapes

Here is my first really attempt at an abstract typeface that follows the forms I have found while researching Brutalist Architecture. I was honestly very pleased with this work. 

I found it very difficult to balance the need for it to resemble the structures I was trying to emulate while remaining legible. But I think I achieved a happy medium. 

The issue with this piece was that a classmate was doing a very similar piece and after seeing it I admitted to him that his was better and decided I’d have to do more to distinguish mine. 

Concrete effect typeface in 3D

Here was a brief doodle I did while pondering my project ideas. This was going to be in regards to the topic of my project being the misunderstanding people have when it comes to Brutalist Architecture. 

My idea was that I would explore the reasons people see Brutalist buildings as so hideous and oppressive and seek to educate them of the philosophy of Le Corbusier and the socialist and populist ideals he harboured. 

Angular concrete type 3D
Here is my most advanced illustration of the typeface I have since decided to continue with. The exaggerated strength and thickness of the lettering was very intentional. 

Almost all the letter are designed to resemble solid blocks with details to distinguish letters being indents in the blocks rather than empty space. I wanted to create something geometric and angular that would follow the line software Brutalist design while remaining simple and legible. Nothing extrvigent as Le Corbusier intended for his structures. 

Digitised Typeface

Although the colouration will require much adjustment from this point (the type was created in CMYK so in RGB it looked a sickly green. I chose these colours because they looked far crisper for display purposes). 

As I mentioned, with such abstract typefaces, the concern is with striking a balance between being true to the brief (emulate Brutalist forms) and allow the type to be legible. 

It is difficult to judge this having poured so much time into the work and become so familiar with it. I asked my flatmates and some members of the course and they had no issues with it. But feel free to leave a comment with your opinion. 

I am broadly happy with the outcome and this will allow me to progress by incorporating this typeface in my ephemera and my animation work. I will refine it further, however. It needs some organic texture, concrete isnt smooth. I also need to nail down a final colour scheme. 

Finishing my Mark 

After my ‘100 Marks’ brief a few weeks ago, I began taking some of the sketches I had made and refining them. You can see this is my post ‘Making my Mark’. I have recently been working to take these refined pieces to Adobe Illustrator and see if I can’t turn them into something polished. 

My first choice was to decide which of my marks I was most keen to proceed with. After consulting a few friends I happily found they all shared the same view and had a definite favourite, this was also my favourite. 

A3 – The Wave

This was given the thumbs up and so I decided to work on the finer details of it. I wanted to emphasise the precision with which it was created to highlight my ability as a designer. It had to be clean and crisp. 

As you can see here the bottom sketch is my more refined version. I used a compass to achieved perfect circles and insured that every line defining the shape was perfectly geometric. 

Logo Blue Print

Here is the first stage of the design completed. I had intended to clean away the guiding lines that set my shape, but even at this rate I realised they added something to the design. 

Filled Logo

I then filled the wave in a series of ombre shades to get a feel for the way it would look and adjust it accordingly. 

Completed piece

Here is the mark as I intended it to look. I decided to cover the guidelines where the wave sits, but leave them for the remaining area. This allows for people to grasp the theory behind the design while not interrupting its flow and leaving it looking unfinished. 

I tried to use the ombre effect within each segment of the wave to reflect the change in colour in a real wave, where the inner part of the curve is darker as it is hidden from the light. Possibly this could use some refinement and I’m sure I will do so at some point. But for now I am happy with the outcome. 

Changing Faces – Imagery

At this point my theme is well established. However I need some more imagery for the article. I decided that since I have such an abundance of candles left over from my previous piece (see previous post) that I’d so some experimentation. I wasn’t able to secure a decent camera for this so the images are from my phone.


I had the idea of using the melted wax as an implement from drawing. So I sketched out a simple map of the earth in pencil before lighting my candles and setting to work. I didn’t want to simply drip over the right areas one at a time as I thought this would not create the desired effect. I wanted a swirling, dynamic and slightly abstract image.

By smearing the lit candle across the paper and the wax dripped from it. I ended up with something similar to a watercolor. The effect of this was just what I’d hoped. There was some ash from the wick but I feel that only adds to the image. I used blue and black candles because I wanted a slightly washed out, bleak look but still bright. It was only after I finished this piece that I really thought about how I could apply it.

Earth Drippy

Here’s the Photoshop edited piece. I simple removed all the paper coloring so the image would sit nicely on my final piece without the off-white box surrounding it.


This is a continuation of the same image. I just kept on melting. I was aiming for an effect like a waxy puddle gather beneath the earth. It came out looking a little more like a platform as if the planet was on a stand however. Because of this I did a little more editing to see if I could salvage it.

Earth Melting

Here’s the final piece. I’m not entirely satisfied with the outcome but I’m happy to have explored the concept. Painting with wax offers a great dynamism to images. The depth a color and texture is really great. The images don’t really do it justice because my camera phone makes them look very flat. I’m not sure yet how I can apply this to my project but it’s a good piece to have in case it comes in handy later.