As part of a document production class within MRU’s information design program, students were asked to create a zine exploring a topic of their choosing. Type–Geist is a printed zine exploring the intersection between visual communication and popular culture. Combining interviews and individual pieces, Type–Geist takes an in-depth look at instances of celebratory typography and design in 2016 and explores the translations, appropriations, and shortcoming of design’s use in popular media and consumer culture. The entire zine is set in Helvetica and Gill Sans, at once reinforcing utilitarian and “norm” aesthetic.
The 48–page zine is split into three, colour-coded sections covering fashion and art, entertainment, and social and political culture’s influences and interactions. Content includes interviews with designers, editorial writers, and academics, as well as personal reflections and references to media and communications theory. From artistic endeavors to consumerist sex–appeal, Type–Geist covers visual communication’s sometimes tricky relationship with the world it parades.
We cannot ignore the highly material culture that plays a hand in popular culture, and type trends permeate this disposable materialism we may fall victim to acknowledge. The continuous exchange between graphic design and fashion questions who reappropriates what. Is the exchange problematic? Or are these just simply styles and trends circulating through? Likewise, celebrities’ push boundaries to emerge as the renaissance person, and they release type–ridden clothing lines to accompany their art and art books to accompany their albums. Behind these icons and trends sits design, and behind graphic design, we consider spurring subcultures. Thus, progressive graphic designers most likely ignore the monotonous Google search for design trends leading to articles titled, “the top 5 body copy trends of 2016.”
While not every design choice may be laden with heavy meanings, it is naïve to believe design choices are innocent altogether. It is no coincidence that Pantone’s 2016 colour choices of blue and pink echoed the social and political movement of removing gender norms. Creative industries tap into movements of popular culture more likely to monopolize than take an ethical stance. But whatever the reason, then, it is simply hard to ignore the mutual exchange between design and culture.
The life of Blackletter
Typesetting the table
Designs’ return to the ‘90s
Q&A with Ben Kunz
A millennial designer’s tug–o–war
Stop talking big