Letters that sink in
Alex Trochut’s liquid type added va-va-voom to London art journal Varoom

Alex Trochut’s designs for Barcelona beer brand Estrella Damm are regular sights on billboards in British cities – and for many creatives, particularly type-based artists, he is quite simply ‘the man’.

He describes the Estrella posters, the illustrated shapes and their featured letter forms as being influenced by Barcelona – its atmosphere, its fantastical architecture and a vibrant artistic legacy left by Gaudí, Miró and Dalí, among others.

Trochut’s work for London art title Varoom caught our eye. The magazine commissioned him to create an illustration-based cover for its November 2009 issue. Art-directed by Non Format, the idea was to create a two-part illustration (for both front and back covers)in which the line ‘This Is Illustration’ would be written in liquid and gradually sink into another liquid.

“We wanted to make the liquid look as fluid as possible so it would look like a splash that was natural,” Trochut explains.

This gave him a lot of leeway for the letter design. The idea was to create something more illustration-based than typographical. Legibility wasn’t a key concern. However, it was important that letters were in proportion, that they didn’t look ‘wrong’. Therefore he looked at flowing type, such as the font Candy, as well as lettering from the 1970s for an understanding of the necessary strokes necessary for the right look.

For Trochut, this proportionality is vital. “It’s like a hydraulic system: if you push a lot to express yourself, then you’re forgetting the way you communicate,” he says. “Everybody will see how beautiful the shapes can be but maybe just a few people will be able to read it. It’s important to find that middle point, where you can be as expressive as you want and most people can read it, too.”