GDE720 - Week 2

GDE720 – Week 2 : Research

This week we’re taking our research and recordings from the previous week to begin creating an illustrative typography for our local area taking into account history, social context and the future of the area.

For me, I wanted to initially sit down and think about the “personality” of the village from the recordings I took last week. The personality of the village needs to come through in my work so it’s vital I nail down some key words to work towards.

There is a large cultural shift and development that’s been happening in Osbaldwick for about 10 years now – we have a huge housing development called Derwenthorpe (more can be found here). It’s a highly sustainable, eco building project and has had a massive change on the way the area is viewed. Through creating zero carbon properties on the outskirts of an existing village means no transport hubs or links need to be added or built and existing communities are already in place. This bold development shows a powerful shift forwards for a Medieval village.

There is a “beck” running through the village, running parallel to the main street with the village green on the other side. This small river has a number of bridges connecting the main street to both traditional and modern houses. This links to the manor that used to exist in the same area which was surrounded by a moat. In York, Osbaldwick is known for this picturesque beck and it a large part of it’s identity.

There is also a huge Medieval history to this village, not much is seen physically, but the 18th century church and previous archaeological digs point to a strong medieval history here. Sadly, apart from gravestones, no significant letterforms are evident in the area hinting to this history. I have however looked at the Domesday Book and the letterforms there, the Carolingian font used, which is definitely something I could use or involve somehow.

Being a village on the outskirts of a City, it doesn’t get the same funding and updating as the City. This could be seenin the faded paintwork on the old wayfinding signs (despite York having had numerous wayfinding updates in the past few years). This definitely needs to be part of this village’s identity.

Response to lecture

Reforming and projecting a new future in a type design – this is the basis of the lectures this week and something I am keen to undertsand more of. Colophon Studios is so well known, so it was really lovely to hear this interview with Stuart regarding their Welsh Typeface created for Wales’ new identity.

It hasn’t occured to me before that there aren’t any Welsh-specific type faces, and, despite spending a lot of my childhood in Northern and Southern Wales, I always thought the “dd” letterforms were in fact two separate letters, whereas infact they are digraphs, one letter. They had to fully absorb themselves in the culture and language of Wales, bringing in Native speakers to help them understand not only the look of the language but the history. Making a feature of the significant little details such as the harp shaped n and h and reflecting the Gaelic Medieval past is a powerful detail.

Interestingly the Welsh alphabet is made up of 28 characters, omitting certain letters we have “z” etc and replacing with digraphs. I found the “ll” letterforms really powerful, this is a really strong personality trait of the Welsh language with villages such as Llandudno and other commonly used words. Utilising the medival representations of these characters really brings back that historical element into the writing, without making it illegible or difficult to read.

Mexico 68 – I’m going to be controversial here, but I just can’t warm to this logo. The historical representation of the country and the research behind it is so powerful, but I really struggle with the actual design itself. As Stuart said inthe last lecture, it’s good to have a feeling about a piece of design, and I do – quite strongly! It’s ok to dislike someone’s work, but I do also have respect for the amount of research and historical representation behind the letterforms and design. It’s a significant nod to Mexico’s hisotry and it is so experimental. It just shows that if you go against most design rules it can be successful. The parallel lines taken from historical glyphs used for the icons was a really clever idea and something that hadn’t been seen before in an identity for the Olympics.

Despite how I may feeling about the way the logo looks, both of the above examples are really highlighting to me how, when creating an identity for an area, the toughest design rules don’t really get taken into account. Break the rules, experiment and mix different fonts and forms together. It’s ok!!!

I really enjoyed listening to Dan Rhatigan talk about the Ryman font – one I’ve come across before and really fascinating how, by just taking the main body out of a letterform, when printed, you can barely tell the letterform is hollow. By manipulating the printing methods and downfalls, they have created a typeface which is functional, beautiful, and, primarily, sustainable.


JRHT. (2018). Derwenthorpe, York. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Jun. 2019].

Grey London (2014) Dan Rhatigan on Ryman Eco (Links to an external site.) [online] 20 August, (Accessed: 7th December 2018)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s