The best thing about social media is the connections you make to people that you would otherwise be remote from. Being down under (OZ or NZ) it is easy to feel isolated from a lot that is going on in the type and design worlds. With hubs like New York, Berlin and London so far away (and in such slumber challenging timezones!) there are limited opportunities to get involved and connect with community.
"The essential idea of stencils is to repeatedly display an image by applying ink or paint on a plate. Whatever shapes are trimmed away from that plate (using a knife, mortising machine, laser, etc.) will be showcased. The term stencil describes both the pattern and the image that result from it." Ferdinand Ulrich
Use of stencil letters first began in the seventeenth century. Stencil type achieves consistency and efficiency in production by adjusting conventional shape grammar of a letterform to ensure connectedness of counters (so the negative space is a whole and becomes part of the stencil) in doing so they often explode the black shapes of the letterforms produced by the stencil into separate modules. For example in Underwares Tripper stencils (above) the bowls of the B the Apex of the A are broken with a solid vertical line (called a bridge) to ensure once painted the counter shapes are left white and positioned correctly. The aperture of the C technically means the C form could do without the vertical bar but it is applied for consistent visual language across the system of letterforms.
A stencil's interrupted shapes are not unlike our typography community. Fragmented, each component divorced from the next, just like our geographic gaps for those of us in Australasia (or perhaps even within the silos of lettering, calligraphy, type design and typography?!). But great stencil type's components work together as a unified system, the visual elements are cohesive with commonalities between modules, they efficient and in recent years, despite the production imposed constraints of these modular letterforms, stencil type is experiencing a revival and keeps advancing as a genre with lots of beautiful and innovative contemporary typefaces that are not necessarily designed for use with a stencil - but embrace the aesthetic of these divided forms.
Most weeks I work 60 hours on a mix of client and self-initiated work. But I have been quite loose-lipped that one of my dirty little scheduling secrets is finding time after-hours' for trash tv (Coronation street being top of the list!) Sunday nights always involves rubbishy UKTV programming, a good meal (and hopefully a bottle of wine!). With no client demands, deadlines or distractions Sunday evening is also a fantastic opportunity to connect with type lovers world over in Design Museum's #FontSunday. A weekly activity which bridges the gap between type enthusiasts (professional and amateur, while also cross-pollinating the fore-mentioned silos within our discipline!
For those of you who haven't been involved in #FontSunday before (trash TV and wine is not a requirement!) - each week a guest host selects a theme and invites people to post type related eye-candy using the twitter hashtags #fontsunday (and usually a theme related #tag) - the type enthusiasts posts are then shared with the Design Museum's 2.6 million followers! #FontSunday kicks off at midday in the UK - so depending on your timezone down under it is 10pm, 11pm or 1am! When I discovered Studio Sparrowhill was hosting a stencil theme I knew it would be a week worth staying up late for!
I follow Studio Sparrowhill on Twitter they have a great sensibility for type (and the integration of type and image) - they understand the value of self-initiated projects and independent research. Curiously exploring the design disciplines with the objective of continued learning and improving their understanding of design (a philosophy I very much relate to!). And so I am a keen supporter of founder James Robinson, his studio and work!
In preparation for their stencil themed FontSunday - Studio Sparrowhill teamed up with Dan Mather – a well respected London-based screenprinter to produce a limited edition run of fluoro inked posters to announce the event and to share with the best contributors. (I am particularly grateful for this as I was one of the excited recipients of the poster which is expertly printed and exceptionally well designed!)
I am very pleased to have my edition of this glorious and vibrant poster up in the print pavilion.
The design uses Milton Glaser’s ‘Glaser Stencil’ typeface and make's the most of the stencil vernacular playing with vertical and horizontal bridges (in both positive and negative) between the stacking O's.
Studio Sparrowhill's Stencil theme was really well received by the community with an excellent turnout of type geeks posting their favourite examples of stencil type, fonts and letters. With one of the highest ever number of submissions for the Design Museum. You can view a collection of #stencils here at the Design Museum’s Pinterest board. which has become a great resource for documenting the variety within the genre of stencil type.