Monday, 18 October 2010

A Review On Jonathan Barnbrook

“A lot of the work in the 1990s was hard to read.”
Jonathan Barnbrook  

Anti-modernist, typographical illustrator Barnbrook entered the industry in order to create different options over the legendary typeface Helvetica. Yet today he is one of the best-known creative designers in Britain. He graduated in graphic design from St Martins Collage of Art and Design in London and took a postgraduate degree in the Royal Collage of Art. His massive and controversial work in graphic design industry makes strong, proactive, yet, sometimes anarchic statements about corporate culture, politics and consumerism. His original fonts, including Mason, Exocet, Bastard and Prozac, displayed a disruptive interaction at language, meaning and letterforms. I envy him because he is not just a designer also he is an original thinker of this century. 

Branbrook's typeface "Priori", 1999.
Barnbrook designed so many innovative typefaces, however my favourite is “Priori”. He created this typeface when he was asked to enter a competition to design a typeface for Glasgow in 1999. When you research the background, you find out that the typeface borrows heavily from early twentieth-century typography seen in London and of course reflects the environment, which the designer surrounded by: very much British! This major typeface produced with different styles but with a common sense and a core character shape, so the users can mix them together in the same word or text, in order to enrich their work. All I know that is important to be true to your surroundings and, cultural background. And typefaces aren’t just decorative objects they have a great impact on explaining the way we use language in our lives. Therefore, Branbrook can be considered the leader of those ideas and he conveys them in each part of his work.

Branbrook's typeface "Mason", 1992.
Although, “Manson” (1992) has been one of Branbrook’s most commonly used and copied typefaces. The original font name, Manson, a reference to the notorious serial killer Charles Manson, I believe it was chosen to express extremes – love and hate, beauty and ugliness. While “Manson” sounds elegant to some, the association is also with the extreme violence and evil. For this reason the name proved controversial and the font’s distributors, quickly changed it to the more neutral Mason. Despite the well-known problems with the name, big companies such as BBC and Walt Disney employed the font, to use their graphics. In my opinion they adopt the font because it also has a religious letterform like Renaissance Bibles and in a contrast to it’s unfamiliar shapes, still it is quite legible. According to me what makes Mason so unique even that it was name after a serial killer, yet it can be assimilate by conservative region.

David Bowie's famous album "Heathen", 2002.
Another impressive work of Branbrook was David Bowie’s album cover “Heathen”, 2002. This album was considered something of a come back for Bowie in the U.S. market. That’s why it had to be striking with the song and also with the artwork. On the cover you can see an application of Priori, which displays on the anti-religious meaning of the title. I find this cover quiet remarkable because if you examine all the album you can see it is more like storyboard rather than a basic album cover and it conveys a story about violating religious objects with a strong combination of photograph, illustration, and of course typography. Therefore, I think both the album and the artwork were considerably successful since it sold over two million copies over the world.

Branbrook's "The Little Book of Shocking Global Facts".
Branbrook’s newly released book called “The Little Book of Shocking Global Facts” is an interesting research about many complex issues. I adored the book because it is more like a visual manifesto questioning annually on weaponry, the poor education system, and large corporations, which branded the world. Addressing this kind of problems request a lot of courage, and Branbrook combines his typographic skills with colourful illustrations to send an ethical message. And I find it very hard to not to admire him since he uses graphic design just like a toy to refer and demonstrate global issues.

1 comment:

  1. References:!/barnbrook
    Wilhinde E., 2010, How To Design A Typeface: Design Museum