Once advertisers had embraced illustration as a mainstream strategy, it was a relatively short leap to illustration-based type. Look at AMV BBDO’s bold ads for the Economist, or Alex Trochut’s recent work for beer brand Estrella Damm. In these campaigns, the words aren’t separate from the image. They are the image, or at least an essential element of it.

Why words?
The shift to type-based art is partly a way of keeping illustration-led ads fresh. Technology has a part to play, too: try using your old G4 PowerBook to do some of the serious heavy lifting you now do on your MacBook Pro.

Most obviously, though, it offers a way for advertisers to marry a clear verbal message and an illustration, presenting a slogan or message in a more intriguing and engaging manner than straight-up text.

Diagonal, by Alex Trochut.

Letters are often mashed up and mixed up, glooped up and obscured. Rendered large, for example on a large-scale poster at a train platform, they invite the viewer to engage with the illustration – and its message. On a magazine cover or CD poster, the effect is the same.

Type-based art is also a fantastic way to make a message unique. You can use customised or one-off fonts – this is a particularly handy connotation for brands whose message rests on customisation and tailored solutions for clients, such as mobile phone service providers.