Research – Vernacular Typography. A theme revisited

The first time I visited Vernacular Typography I was limited in my outlook, this was rightly pointed out by my tutor. This had me vexed, what had I missed? Had I been too technical in my outlook, or merely restricted? This has been in the back of my mind for a while now as to what I’d missed out. The key element was the art of Sign writing, something which is unforgivable to ignore. It’s prevalence in our lives up until the advent of vinyl printing and large scale decals was so common it merged into the background.

The issue with this sort of typography, for me at least, is that I have my prejudices, insofar as when we talk about type I automatically think print or paint. I forget the flourishes that exist, the art of the sign writer but most importantly of all the craft of the Mason. From Sumerian clay impressions, to ancient Greek markings, to contemporary grave markers, this form of Typography, like the traditional sign writer, is overlooked. Here the form takes on commonality restricted by type, leaving a 2000 year old record of commonality.

For me all of this leads to sign writing, which is the ultimate expression in vernacular typography. It was soon copied by Victorian print makers and in this age of DTP is enjoying a renaissance at the hands of modern typographers such as Letterhead Fonts. The decorative curls and broad expanses lend themselves to both contemporary businesses to help deisgn logos, promote the business as well as become established as part of a new 21st Century sub-culture, Hipsters.

The flows and strokes of the range of types and font available are definitely of interest to any Graphic Designer, if not historically, most definitely as a basis for future work and adaption. After all DTP can do anything nowadays.

Resources Used

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