The intersection of visual and music cultures has always really fascinated me.
The professional fields of design and music have crossed paths
for years. Each constantly fueling the other through visual, audible and emotional expression.
– Thomas Wilder
One of my most valued virtual connections is Tony Pritchard. I have never meet Tony face to face (which is why he is still virtual!) but I do very much hope to visit him next time I am in the UK. I always enjoy our email and twitter exchanges... and I LOVE his feed - (so much so I celebrated one of Tony's tweets in the second volume of TypographJournal!)
Tony's Twitter banter is full of insightful commentary, inspired student work (from LCC), he is super active at sharing content from great online communities like Women of Graphic Design and Istd... and occasionally he also Tweets some of his own design outcomes, multimedia projects and creative exploration.
Like many designers I draw a lot of inspiration from musicians, lyrics, melodies and beats. My design studio and print pavilion work spaces are always alive with music. I create visually while appreciating audibly. In Typograph.Journal I invite creatives I admire to visually respond to a piece of music. And for the last couple of years I have (slowly) been working on a series of letterpress compositions that are visual soundtracks to songs (the first sequence explored Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm On fire which' I bound into an edition of 3 books)... Tony also has a strong relationship with music culture in his work - and last week he tweeted a Rock'n'Roll alphabet side project - which I loved!
"Although I'm not a fan of heavy rock or heavy metal I do think they understand consistent brand and their audience. Actually better than the so called more sophisticated musical genres who happen to be pretty hopeless at the idea of relating the identity of their outputs."
So I asked Tony to share a little detail about the project for the TypographHer site:
"I can't remember how the idea began. I still have a vinyl record collection. Maybe I was browsing that or maybe it was an idea that just came out of the blue. When we start the course each year we get the students to go on a typographic journey of London and to compile a found alphabet of letters from the environment. It is a fairly standard task. So the idea of composite alphabets isn't new. I remember Pentagram Parter Mervyn Kurlansky's 'Kurlansky's Krazy Kaps which was a studio project.
Each Saturday, in 'design as hobby mode', I searched for three consecutive letters in the alphabet that I could find in pop and rock bands or artists. I looked through my record collection for inspiration but also searched online. I first search band's names by A-Z. Then I looked for images of their logos. I found various sites of collections of names and related logos. I noticed there were already vector-based designs drawn up and downloadable. I also noticed the option for full colour or black and white. I quickly came to the decision that I would like all logos in black and white. Not all logos were available. Recently students have begin to convert what they find to their own vector-based artwork.
I took this lead from the students and began to reconstruct and redraw the logos myself in Adobe Illustrator. Teachers are learners also and teachers can learn from their students. Putting together three letters per week was quite quick. I published then via Twitter and Facebook. Using reply in Twitter I was able to build the alphabet up as a collection week on week. When the 26 letters were complete. I put them all together in a poster format. I tried various combinations but settled on this simple arrangement and added an explanatory title."
"As you can see from the Twitter thread there are a couple of other very good versions posted. What the collections reveal are aspects of the identity assumed by each genre. Meaning is attributed to letters and graphic treatments – rock 'n' roll semiotics.
The rock 'n' roll alphabet was created for fun and entertainment. It isn't deep. It isn't original. It isn't comprehensive or definitive. In fact it should be in constant flux dependent on who wants to create or adapt the alphabet."
Thank you so much for sharing Tony - I think the alphabet is brilliant - I have been looking at this for a week now and am still trying to work out some of the bands represented here. But I dont want any cheat sheets or clues. I love the visual challenge and I know the TypographCommunity who are full of curious creatives will too!