I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Brisbane Griffith campus to deliver a typography lecture to a group of Queensland College of Art students. I later reached out to David Sargent (Creative Director and Lecturer at Griffith) to invite submissions from that student group for our new Student Spotlight series. The caliber of work I subsequently received from the QCA students is outstanding. I have been bouncing emails back and forth with a few students to learn more about their work, their aspirations and motivations. And today I am thrilled to share with you this inspired project by up-and-coming designer Ryan Humpheries.

The QCA students were asked to embark on a type design assignment. Ryan's typeface Bad Beach Faded Deja was inspired by exhaustion.

His concept: THE WILL TO RECUPERATE "when one is overtired and finds it hard to concentrate and perform to the best of their ability."

Bad Beach Faded Deja is a representation of the desire and temptation felt, during times of exhaustion, to collapse into a regenerative heap and abandon all tasks and responsibilities responsible for any tiredness; when gravity seems to affect you that extra bit.

Each character was created with BluTac and hung upside down for 48hrs to let the natural effects of gravity alter their form - a communication of feeling 'heavy' while in a state of tire.

I love the idea of gravity distorting the shape grammar to make the letters look heavy and tired this is really smart thinking! 

Ryan I think your project is Ace! Tell us a little about yourself…

I grew up on a crop farm in regional New South Wales with my older brother and sister. Growing up in the bush we were exposed to rich open environments, which I feel has formed a lot of who we are today. We were also very lucky to be apart of such a rich, non-Western culture through heritage on our mum’s side and throughout the years have been lucky enough to visit our relatives in her home Nissan Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

This mixture of bush, urban settings, and isolated island localities and communities has really shaped my ideals. I think it’s crucial to understand that there are several ways-of-being and a firm believer in understanding that everyone’s perspectives are valid in their reality, even thought they may seem irrelevant in your own reality. To also be able to step back from the fast-paced, consumerist driven, artificial notions of current modern life and appreciating just being in the moment is also something I find to be imperative and crucial to who I am as a person and in the design tasks I undertake.

How and when did you become interested in studying design?

Being the youngest of the family with quite a distinctive age gap and also living on a property without other kids in close proximity, I spent a majority of my time as a child by myself. My imagination and creativity got a massive kick-start because of this, as I would roam around the surrounding bush, creating makeshift weapons for fictitious scenarios. I’d also design makeshift board games, and the list goes on. In this sense, my design was a crucial part of my experience as a childhood.

There was never any point growing up where I thought, ‘I want to be a Lawyer!’ or ‘I’m going to be a doctor!’ or anything like that. Since my childhood, I always wanted to do something creative; this was discussed with my school career Councillor who suggested to me, in grade 12, that I apply for the current course I’m doing.

What about Type, calligraphy and/or Lettering specifically turns you on/excites or interests you?

Definitely that it communicates to such a large demographic; the power it holds can be used for anything and convey ideals and perspectives to people. The fact that we can harness this power to create change and induce beneficial conditions into existence is a massively gravitating aspect for me.

Do you have a particular medium or tool for design that you gravitate toward or enjoying working with most? (Mac, Pencil, Wacom tablet, BluTac?!, your hands, a software application etc)?

I think you can never go wrong with the trusty pencil and paper. It’s just so convenient to be able to quickly sketch down an idea as it comes to your head. When I make 3D physical constructions, I tend to utilize whatever random things I have in my apartment to achieve what I want; cardboard, soy sauce, coffee, cords, chairs, earphones, candles, etc. etc. When you’re on a student budget, you tend to get very thrifty with re-purposing materials, but it’s a process I find satisfying and enjoying for sure.

Your type projects cleverly explores the concept of exhaustion. Where did you draw the inspiration/idea for this?

When I started to undertake this project it was halfway through the semester where everything was full speed and undertaking all the different uni assessment with non-university commitments, leaving me pretty drained and exhausted. Every day waking up I just felt more tired, heavy, and sluggish, the more I had to do.

When conceptualizing for a very open brief, as this assignment was, the first thing I usually try and draw from is my current state which I use as inspiration to map out ideas of possible visual representations and concepts to build upon. The first thing that came to mind in this case was the word heavy. Thinking of ways to visually represent weight, I immediately thought of gravity and BluTac and wondered if I could transfer my physical state onto this inanimate object through universal laws of gravity, something that everything is subject to.

You note that if you were to do it again you would digitise it differently (this is something that really piqued my interest as I am doing my own visual research into the different ways production methods inform the outcome)… So can you tell us a little about what you think the letters lost or gained in the vectoring process?

Definitely the rawness of the physical BluTac form. I find that physical objects are always much more tangible and viscerally engaging to me and transforming this essence across to a 2-D digital form is something that I struggle with currently. From this project, it’s clear to see the loss of character when it was brought across through vectorizing; it just made it feel a lot more artificial. It lost a lot of warmth and relatability compared to its BluTac form.

As we draw near to the completion of you Bachelor what are you next steps career wise? What does your dream job (or enterprise if you’re planning on creating your own business) look like?

I’m currently really invested in design strategy and re-directive design; being able to re-code perceptions of things to be seen as more desirable. Too often when a lot of people think of visual communication or graphics design, they tend to think its only use is for advertising and the desired outcome is to work for a high-end brand, promoting people to buy high-end products. It’s a shame because it truly has the power to influence and change minds.

Ultimately, I would love to be using my skills and the influential power of design to emphasize beneficial values. I feel there is a need to break away from humanity’s current artificial direction of technology emphasized, segregation inducing realities, and towards a holistically inclusive community where all people are valued to contribute and interact with one another. There is a lot that can be learned from non-westernised communities where there is stronger appreciation for interpersonal interactions and community, and I would like to apply these to modern societies such as Australia where we are increasingly opting more towards technological means of socialising and gaining knowledge and away from physical interactions and trade of knowledge. Exactly what this looks like, I do not know, so at the moment I’m mostly just going along and seeing the different opportunities as they present themselves.

You can connect with Ryan here

The characters were first formed in BluTac

The characters were first formed in BluTac

Each character was then hung upside down for periods of 48 hours to let gravity take effect.

Each character was then hung upside down for periods of 48 hours to let gravity take effect.

The distorted forms were then used to map out the shapes for the digital construction of each letter.

The distorted forms were then used to map out the shapes for the digital construction of each letter.

Ryan explored different weight, line and mass during vectoring.

Ryan explored different weight, line and mass during vectoring.

Bad Beach Faded Deja by QCA student Ryan Humpheries.