Rather than question what a letter 'should' look like, Barry ambitiously explores what letters 'could' look like, establishing a radical model, where the designer actively erodes their preconceived expectations of typographic form.
I have been accused of being a speculatype fan girl - and there is no denying it! I have written a number of features about Barry here on typographHer.com, in the Journal and on different social media platforms because I think his work is really important in expanding the conventional territory of type design.
But more broadly Barry's process demonstrates a model for innovation that any designer can apply to their work... So I am delighted Barry has self-published his doctoral research as a hardcover book that focuses on his unique speculative exploration with Latin letterforms, to share his remarkable thinking and process with the wider community.
Containing over 230 illustrations showcased throughout each chapter and including nine in-depth case studies of typefaces that were instrumental to Barry’s creative journey and transformation, this book is a visual and theoretical treat for those interested in the boundaries of letterforms and typeface creation.
“It is not commonplace to engage in a line of questioning that provokes a creative response that departs from the foundations of the Latin letterforms and their history. However, it’s by taking something as implicitly known as the Latin letterforms and applying a completely new interpretation to their creation, perception and understanding that I contribute new knowledge to the field of typographic research.”
By exploring the Latin letterforms outside of the traditional approach, Barry has created typefaces that have allowed him to experiment and speculate with shapes that would otherwise have been dismissed. However, it is exactly this kind of investigation that has led to the creation of this book and the vast array of unique outcomes that are contained within its 256 pages.
“This is a thesis that explores the letterforms of our alphabet, not as a problem-solving project, but instead as like a scientific lab experiment or an artistic body of work and from a position that enables creativity through open thought and investigation with the potential to extend into innovation and unknown possibilities.”
Speculatype: A Tranformative Approach to the Perception, Understanding and Creation of Latin Letterforms is now available for purchase from Barry Spencer Design, online retailers and in good bookstores.
About Barry Spencer
Calling himself a Speculative Type Designer, Barry states that he often makes letters that may or may not look like letters. For over a decade he has researched, explored and played with the Latin letterforms and through his research and exploration he has been able to reach a point where he believes he has fundamentally altered the way that he creates, perceives and understands the shapes of the alphabet.
Barry continues to explore the potential of letterforms while also writing and lecturing on graphic design, typography and type design.
You can find and explore Barry’s work by visiting: www.barryspencerdesign.com.au