Then there’s the ‘1 Sign 4 All’ section, which features all-uppercase typography in fluorescent colours. Was it a deliberate move to break away from the beautiful aesthetic of the preceding sections?
No. It’s an immersive graphic experience, in the same way that all the other chapters are immersive. When I talk about stars, we are immersed in a universe of stars; when I talk about Santa we are immersed in the iconography and feel of Santa/Christmas. ‘1 Sign 4 All’ is about an abundance of signage in black, yellow and neon orange… I wanted people to feel that abundance.
We recently sparked a debate online about the difference between ‘typography’ and ‘type art’ – terms that are often used interchangeably for work such as yours. There seemed to be some consensus that typography was about legibility, or at least clarity of understanding, whereas type art puts no such restrictions on itself. Would you agree? And how much is providing an instantly comprehensible message important to your work?
I would disagree that typography is about legibility, but I would say that typography is about type: about the usage and creation of type. While this technically should include handwriting, calligraphy and lettering, I feel slightly uncomfortable about that. I don’t consider children learning to write as practising typography, no matter how carefully and legibly they write.
So for myself, somewhat vaguely, I consider type to be some mechanised form… letterpress to digital, where the type used is in some form a typeface – that being a complete set of designed letters, numerals, punctuation etc, necessary for setting written language.
I have been called a typographer, which is true when I work with type. I’ve been called a great typographer and other superlatives, which I think is not true. I’m a good typographer, maybe even a very good one, but not great. What I am good at, maybe even great at, is lettering. Lettering is when you create a word or words in a custom style and limited character set – usually only the letters you require for the custom piece. Children do lettering; so do calligraphers; so do I.
You also talk a lot about remembrance. How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone of influence in the design world, who was always full of surprises and who was continually evolving. I would also like to be remembered as a good person, someone worth knowing.