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72 posts categorized "Design"

21 January 2015

Bye for now...

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Fran Taylor British Library

Happy New Year!

After looking after our creative industries blog for a few years, I’m going to be moving to a new role within the British Library to promote our Shop and commercial services. 

It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for you, building up a loyal following for our blog and working on projects like Spring Festival and our Jewellery designer in residence. I'd also like to thank all our guest bloggers including fashion forecaster Geraldine Wharry and writer Emma Tucker.

Although you won’t be hearing from me, you might also like to check out our Innovation and Enterprise blog for entrepreneurs and our Living Knowledge blog to get a ‘behind the scenes’ view of the British Library. Find me on Twitter and via my website.

All the best,

Fran

16 December 2014

Inspired by our Maps Collection: Meet illustrator Josie Shenoy

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I first met illustrator Josie Shenoy a few years ago at a ‘Make it, Sell it’ speed mentoring event I ran at the British Library, and she also took part in our Spring Market. She produces beautiful illustrations and has experience of working both for herself and big brands – her work is stocked in the Whitechapel Gallery, Foyles andWellcome Collection.

A year later I invited Josie her to a ‘show and tell’ event at the British Library to see our amazing Maps collections first hand and meet our Maps Curator, Tom Harper. We inspired her to create a new piece of work in response to the British Library archive, which is now one of her bestselling designs.

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Hi Josie. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hello! I am a London-based illustrator, and I work in my studio amongst a community of talented designer-makers at Cockpit Arts, Deptford. My work showcases my love of pattern, decoration and drawing, and is often influenced by the natural world, folklore and a love of storytelling. Alongside taking on commissions and freelance illustration work, I design collections for print and textiles. Drawing is at the heart of my creative practice, and I love the idea of crafting images. My work also often features vintage colour-ways, intricate collage and traditional print methods fused with digital processes. My own product range currently features greeting cards, lighting, stationery and prints, and is stocked in the Wellcome Collection, Foyles and Whitechapel Gallery. My freelance clients have so far included the Design Museum, Imperial War Museum, M&S and Somerset House.

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How do you spend a typical day?

Every day is different and that's one reason why I love illustration. If I'm working to a deadline, my day would be spent at the studio at Cockpit. I share a studio with an amazing jeweller called Maud Traon, and the building is so friendly, there are always people to chat with- it really is a blessing, as illustration can be very solitary work. I would come into the studio in the morning and have a tea with Maud, then I go through my emails and make a list for the day.

Our studio has a lovely serene, quiet environment, and we sometimes put 6 Music or Radio 4 on in the background if there's a good programme on. If it's an illustrating day, I'll start with some sketching and make sure I'm away from the computer, as I find it such a distraction! Everything is done by hand, apart from the very last stages of the illustration, such as cleaning up or adjusting the colours on Photoshop.

My illustrations are quite intricate so it might take me a few days or weeks to finish one, starting from extensive research, to product placement and sampling. If I've got a show coming up, there might be lots of packing up to do, and working out display, pricing and packaging options- I've recently got into Pinterest and love using this to look at ideas.

Or if I'm right at the beginning of a project with a client, I might be visiting them, pitching my work or going through potential ideas. Lunch is always spent with people around the building and we take it in turns to have lunch in our studios- it is such a healthy thing to do to step away from our work at this time. Creatively, I work best in the afternoon, and often don't leave the studio until after 8, however I'm getting better at sticking to 'normal' hours!

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What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in setting up your own business?
I studied illustration at university, and although I couldn't have wished for a better degree, there have been so many extra things I have learnt in the professional world, that you aren't taught in education.

Finding work and getting my work shown to the right people was a challenge to begin with, and still is at times. It can be tricky making sure that work is lined up for the year, as I get so engrossed in my current projects that I don't always think ahead as much as I should. Also making sure my prices were right for wholesaling and retailing, and learning all the jargon and official processes in this line of work, for example going through contracts and agreements.

Making sure that all the correct terms and conditions are in each contract can be really hard, especially because you're so keen to impress the client, and chasing payments is another slightly sensitive issue that comes up from time to time- it's really important to make sure you word emails clearly and find the right tone of voice. And, of course, finance! I've learnt to make compromises when making the freelance leap, and I never really stop working - but this isn't really a problem when you do something that you love for a living.

What advice would you give to other illustrators looking to commercialise their work?

I'm so glad I studied illustration, because it has drummed a philosophy into my work, which is making sure that the image comes first. It's very easy to start thinking about the product or outcome first, or get busy with all the admin extras, and the illustration can get lost along the way even though this is the heart of your business. I think it's best to find your own way and not get too worried about what other illustrators are doing, just making work about a subject that you are passionate about and that you are proud of. I try not to think too much about what my 'target market' might like when it comes to making a new image, as this goes against everything I believe as an illustrator - and I think this is how the most sincere and successful artwork gets made.

The best piece of advice I can give would be to make the most of all the support that is available when you leave university. Becoming a commercial illustrator and the freelance world itself can be quite scary on your own, but IdeasTap, Cockpit Arts, the Design Trust and the Prince's Trust are all organisations that have helped me hugely along the way. Of course designers can also use the British Library’s Business & IP Centre.

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Lastly, can you tell us about how you have been inspired by the Library’s Maps collection?

Last year, I attended the amazing maps tour at the British Library with Tom Harper and Fran. It was Tom's map tour that inspired me to create my latest illustration, 'River Thames' which has gone on to become my best-selling design. I wanted to create a map which wasn't accurate or practical, but which somehow resonated with people due to the images, words and textures that I included. I really love the narrative nature of illustration and strive to create work that makes the viewer feel like they're going on a journey and seeing something new each time they look at the image.

After visiting the map tour, I became very interested in different artists that have explored the art and science of cartography (such as Grayson Perry and Sohei Nishino), and also old maps from Japan and India. I really love learning how and why they were crafted, and why they differ aesthetically from culture to culture.

 

17 November 2014

How the British Library supports designers

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If you are involved in illustration, graphic, interior or product designillustration, graphic, interior or product design, we can help you.


Be inspired by our collections
The Library’s collection includes a copy of every book and magazine published in the UK, photo books, artist’s books, knitting patterns, newspapers, vinyl covers, fanzines, calligraphy, maps, stamps and more. Whether you’re interested in interior design from the 1950s or examples of gothic type, we have something unique for you.

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Image: British Library music collection

So how can you use the archive?  You need to get a free Reader Pass to see our collections in our Reading Rooms in London and Boston Spa, Yorkshire. These short animations should help get you started.

Product designer Eleanor Stuart was inspired by the Library’s Alice in Wonderland original manuscript to create a new home ware range:

Designer and architect David Ajasa-Adekunle used our Business & IP Centre to develop his award-winning Tetra Shed (below).

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Image: Tetra Shed


See our Pinterest board of designers who have used the British Library to help develop their ideas.


Get help with the business side of things
In our Business & IP Centre you can get advice and support on working for yourself and setting up your own business. This could include business planning, finance, market research (we have some amazing reports on retail trends, for example) and intellectual property.  We run a full programme of events, networking and one-to-one advice sessions. Lastly, if you have already set up in business, you could benefit from our EU-funded Innovating for Growth programme.

A place to sell your products
The Library holds one-off markets and stalls within our buildings – previous examples have included a Christmas Market, Spring Fair and pop-up market for our Gothic Music and Fashion day.  We also stock designers’ work in our Shop (onsite and online).

Watch our Spring Market video:

Read more design-related blog articles here.

 

11 November 2014

Beginner’s guide to Fashion Trend Forecasting with Geraldine Wharry

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Over the last few years I’ve worked closely with fashion forecaster Geraldine Wharry; she helps the British Library analyse its collections in the context of the latest trends, and help educate SMEs on how trends can impact their business. She is creative director of Trend Atelier, a trend forecasting consultancy based in London with clients ranging from WGSN to Samsung.

On Wed 03 December 2014, Geraldine will be running the next instalment of her sell-out workshop: Fashion Forecasting: Trend hunting and gathering in the Business & IP Centre. The session will cover key design trends for 2016/2017 set to influence womenswear, menswear, accessories and footwear, interiors and graphics. Attendees will also get direction on colour and textile designs and see the latest ways designers are using technology and artisanship.

So what is fashion forecasting? Here is Geraldine’s overview.

Identifying a trend is a continuous effort of compiling observations. I call it "hunting and gathering". It requires a lot of curiosity and interest in a wide array of subjects ranging from art and design, reaching over to science, technology, socio-economics, architecture, retail, food as well as travel to name a few.

Whilst gathering facts, at the root of it is also a personal intuition and an eye for what's next, that can't be taught or necessarily explained. Personally I'm constantly collecting ideas and images and have built an archive over many years of designing and researching. Once I see there is a flurry of images with a particular concept running through, it's very easy to see this is a trend, although sometimes a single image can be so powerful that it triggers an instant conviction.

Within that process, there is a compass to guide trend forecasters. The first step is to understand the difference between short-term forecasting and long-term forecasting. This differentiation is key as the timing of a trend prediction is everything. With fashion trends now omnipresent on the internet and having an immediate global impact on consumers, often stemming from bloggers, celebrities and the wide coverage of catwalk shows, there is what we call the “Close-to-Season” fashion cycle. Some trends get massive attention in the press, on the high street and can last a year or so until they suffer from “over exposure” and consumers are ready to go to the next trend. The way these trends can continue past that time frame is if they are updated, which also makes the job of a fashion forecaster a “trend tracker”, guiding clients on how to “refresh” a successful trend.

On the flip side of the coin, some trends are very forward thinking, more embedded in art, innovation in materials, developments in science and technology, consumer behaviours. We call these “Macro trends” or “Big ideas” and they require in-depth investigation and research for what is emerging. Trend forecasting agencies or creative consultants like myself outline future scenarios based on research compiled from experts all over the world, combing through hundreds of references. For this, the creative vision required is strengthened and validated by attending industry events, panel talks, exhibitions as well as brainstorming with thought leaders. This research can take months.

Another element to keep in mind is that some trends are perennial and so embedded in our common fashion vocabulary that they never fully go away, for example fifties fashion or military inspired clothing. One of my favourite and iconic trend forecasters, Lidewij Edelkoort, says "trend forecasting is much like archaeology but to the future". We forecast future trends, but we also look to the past. It is important for trend forecasters to have a very good knowledge of what was designed 10 years, 40 years or over 100 years ago. Every trend has its roots somewhere in history. So whilst you're looking forward, you're also referencing the past and the resonance and space between the two make for a very rich statement. This is something I often do when working on trend reports for key shapes or key details. I research fashion history books, blogs, or interior design for example and it's very interesting to see the commonalities with what's being designed today. You realize it's one big creative loop that is constantly growing and updating itself.

The biggest challenge more recently has been the increasing amount of trends converging. Angelo Vaccarelo’s article for the Business of Fashion, states “In today’s hyper-saturated, ultra-fragmented landscape, talking about trends is, frankly, pointless […] everything is happening at once”. Which in itself is a trend. We are indeed experiencing a hybrid fashion cycle made of different trends and aesthetics co-existing in a complex eco-system. And trend forecasters are there to make sense of this and guide fashion companies to make the most relevant choices for their brand d.n.a. and consumer taste. In addition, Spring catwalks contain Fall clothing and vice-versa. So it’s possible in the future we won’t forecast trends as seasonally as we used to.

So we have reached an interesting time in fashion and thus the world of trend forecasting. Somewhat of a paradox. Suzi Menkes pointed this out regarding individual style stating “there is no longer a time gap between when a small segment of fashion-conscious people pick up a trend and when it is all over the sidewalks”. Because of instant globalization, we are witnessing a level of sameness, whether it’s on the streets, in fashion editorials and shop floors from New York to Bangkok, Paris and London. However, there are many influences seen in fashion right now and the looks can be very eclectic. I call it the “Cut & Paste” era of dragging and dropping images and mixing fashion messages. For trend forecasters, this is an exciting challenge. Of course we are very inspired by bloggers and viral phenomena on the Internet, but we also have to make sense of all of this, promote innovation and think outside of the box. Otherwise, what would be our added value?

Trend forecasting is a highly creative and intellectual field that is also very grounded in factual research and the practicalities of business. I'm a very creative person, but also very pragmatic – sometimes my left and right brain completely merge. Our role is to inspire as well as enable the right business decisions for companies navigating an extremely competitive and fast changing landscape. The design industry relies heavily on us to back up their business decisions with research and data on for example their colour choices for the next season. This could make or break their sales numbers. Although I believe we are in a highly challenging therefore thought provoking cycle, companies are still very shy about taking risks. So trend forecasters bring that extra level of confidence. Through my trend seminars and courses, it's almost like I've become a motivational speaker which is very interesting and something I didn’t necessarily plan for but happened organically when I became a trend forecaster.

Here is a sneak peak at the key concepts for SS16 and early AW16/17 which Geraldine Wharry will present at her next trend forecasting seminar in our Business & IP Centre.

WARPED NATURE

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MODERN FABLES

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SUBVERTED CLASSICS

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MODESTY SOLUTIONS

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You can find out more about Geraldine on her website, blog and on Twitter.

Cultures of the Dark Side: A day of Fashion and Music at the British Library

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On Sunday we held a full-day of gothic inspired events at the Library, to tie in with our current exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.

I went to two of the events - the first with Dave McKean and Andy Vella on 'the art of the gothic album sleeve' and the second called the 'new black: from subculture to high culture' with fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart, academics Dr Catherine Spooner and Royce Mahawatte, designer Nange Magro and fashion forecaster Geraldine Wharry.

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Image: Andy Vella and Dave McKean

Dave McKean and Andy Valla talked about their love of experimental, tactile design – playing with photographic processes, hand created fonts, drawings, paintings and collage. For example, Andy made his font for the Cure’s album sleeve using a cotton bud, some bleach and photographic paper. You can read a full write up here.

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Image: Audience for 'the art of the gothic album sleeve'

The second event hurtled through the history of goth and gothic-inspired fashion. Here’s a quick definition: ‘goth’ is a subculture from the 1980s onwards and is a collection of smaller subcultures e.g. Victoriana, lolita, hip hop gothic, steampunk and health gothic. Whereas 'gothic’ is a much broader term and embraces art, architecture, literature and film - think beauty in decay, vampires, ghosts, churches, graveyards, etc. Its influence spreads to fashion in many ways from dandyish portrayals of vampires to monastic tailoring trends in menswear.

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There was also a gothic-themed market and DJs.

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BL_Goth_9thNov14-1664Interior: Phoebe Richardson

In case you were wodnering what you'd wear to such an event, I thought I'd share with you some images of our lovely audience.

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 You could also follow the conversation on Twitter at #BLGothic. 

 All images taken by Luca Sage.

 

06 November 2014

Cultures of the dark side: Meet our Gothic stall-holders

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On Sunday 9 November 2014, as part of the Library’s Cultures of the Dark Side: A day of Gothic music and fashion, we’ll be running a pop-up market in the British Library Entrance Hall. Come and meet our stall-holders:

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Annabel de Vetten, Conjurer’s Kitchen
Annabel de Vetten is the creative brains behind Conjurer's Kitchen. Formerly trained as a sculptor, and having made a full-time living as a successful fine art painter, Annabel is taking the cake world by storm, presenting cake and other food art that's well outside the fare you'd find in your local bakery. Drawing inspiration from the things she loves - horror movies, alternative art, and whatever strikes her fancy, Annabel's creations have been featured TV and in the national press.

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Benjamin Phillips is a London-based artist and illustrator. His work can be both charming and amusing whilst at other times more sinister and melancholy. Offering a glimpse into strange and abstract narratives his creative works are heavily laced with humour. His art has been exhibited in galleries and print publications across the world, but has also been applied to book covers, album sleeves and other merchandise. 

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Face Lace

Face Lace is a British brand specialising in ready to wear Makeup designs. It launched in 2012 and was founded by Phyllis Cohen. She is a make-up artist who is famous for her intricate designs and bold fashion. The designs won’t fade or smudge and can be re-used. All of the designs are made in the studio, by hand, in small high quality runs. Face Lace now has retailers in 16 countries. Phyllis has also used the British Library’s collections and her products are being stocked in our Shop. 

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Helen Norman
Kitsch from the Krypt focuses on Helen's main interests; kitschy colours and gaudy jewels with images and icons of horror, macabre and cult favourites. When she creates her jewellery and accessories her tongue is firmly in her cheek.

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Jack Penny
Jack Penny is an illustrative artist whose work takes inspiration from the unseen characteristics of people. Jack is drawn to human imperfection - the obscure and secret - the parts we try to hide. He takes these individualities and highlights them in bold, loud colours and abstractions, creating uneasy, often gothic work.

 

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Jazmine Miles-Long

Jazmine Miles-Long is an ethical taxidermist working only with animals that have died from natural causes or as road casualties. Jazmine produces modern, naturalistic taxidermy on commission for artists, museums, conservation studios, collectors and photographers among others. She is also on the committee of The Guild of Taxidermists and is the Editor of their annual journal.

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Phoebe Richardson
Phoebe Richardson is a London-based graphic designer. Her range of Bone China has received press in a number of publications including The Book of Skulls (Lawrence King) and magazines including GQ, Stylist, Time Out, Living Etc and Sunday Times Style. Other work includes music packaging for the Pixies and David Lynch with artistic direction from Vaughan Oliver. Phoebe is currently redesigning the website for luxury fashion retailer Jaeger, whilst continuing to sell anatomical china to people who love bones. She has also used the British Library collections for inspiration.

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Sarah Healey
Sarah Healey's unique skulptural skulls reflect a fascination for the macabre with twists of eccentricity. Using real bird skulls she creates exclusive one off pieces using an eclectic mix of materials and themes. The symbolic contrast between beauty and decay. These captivating sculptures can be worn as brooches, hatpins, hairpieces and pendants.


You can find out more about the day on the British Library website (look out for our Gothic fashion event at 1.45pm.


04 November 2014

Off the Map competition: Turning Gothic literature into games

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One of our Digital Curators at the British Library – Stella Wisdom – is working on a great project to encourage games makers to use the Library’s archive for inspiration. For the last few years she’s been running Off the Map, a partnership competition with GameCity and Crytek to challenge UK higher education students to make videogames based on British Library collections.

This year’s competition had a gothic theme to accompany the Library’s current exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. The exhibition showcases manuscripts and hand-written drafts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the Twilight series (check it out, it’s on in London until 20 Jan 2015).

Stella created this video which shows footage of last year’s winning entry from Pudding Lane Productions, De Montfort University. It also gives details of the 2014 gothic sub-themes and shows flythrough clips from this year’s shortlisted entries.

The third winning entry was Team Shady Agents from University of South Wales in Newport with their Edgar Allan Poe inspired game Crimson Moon. The second winning entry was Team Flying Buttress from De Montfort University, who created a visually rich interpretation of Dracula's Whitby. British Library Chief Executive Roly Keating announced the winning entry: Nix, this was created by Jackson Rolls-Gray, Sebastian Filby and Faye Allen from the University of South Wales.Using Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset for 3D gaming,it challenges players to reconstruct Fonthill Abbey via collecting hidden and moving glowing orbs in a spooky underwater world.

Of course, these projects never happen on their own. Stella worked with our Curator for Terror and Wonder Tim Pye and Tom Harper, our Maps Curator, as well as the lovely teams at GameCity and Crytek.

Plans are currently underway for the third competition: 'Alice's Adventures: Off the Map', which we are launching at the Library at the start of December. I’m also working on a few Alice-themed projects myself (watch this space).

You can read more about the project on the Library’s Digital Scholarship blog.

22 October 2014

Typography: From Gothic to Blackletter

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17. Morte d'Arthur (G.10510) - taken from 'Section 1 - for Dale' folder
Image: Morte d'Arthur

As part of our Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition, we asked writer Emma Tucker about gothic fonts (of which there are lots of examples in our archive). Emma is a writer covering design, music, and culture. She's currently working on a new design and type-focused print magazine for Monotype

There's no argument that cultural perceptions of the gothic come with a set visual language, informed by years of book covers, film posters, and history. Stereotypical graphic images of the gothic are often accompanied by appropriately spiky typography; the severe angles and points of the letterforms calling to mind engravings on ancient tombstones and the spikes of stakes. In fact, the typographic link has become so overt that too 'obvious' depictions of the gothic now feel inauthentic, or mocking.

There's also the borrowing of gothic type – or blackletter, as the script is commonly known – for music subcultures: punk, heavy metal, black metal, death metal. There's no doubt that, in the eye of today's culture, blackletter references the dark, the unapproachable, and somehow the undefinably supernatural.

The dark undertow of gothic literature is reflected in gothic type's own dark history, from its time as a vehicle for German national identity, through to its cultural appropriation by the Nazis. The more correct term for gothic type – blackletter, also known as broken script – refers to the calligraphic script of the Middle Ages, often hand-written by monks transcribing religious texts.

The very first metal type was born from this calligraphic style, and Johannes Gutenberg's 42-line Bible of 1455 used a blackletter which was based on liturgical scripts of the time. However, while roman types - the kind you're reading now - were embraced by most of Europe, and prevalent in England by the 17th century, Germany remained faithful to blackletter until well into the 30s.

Other European nations had jettisoned gothic letterforms in favour of the more 'simple' and 'graceful' characteristics of roman type, as opposed to the dark, angular, 'fussy' nature of gothic – barely legible to contemporary readers. The two styles were set against each other as polar opposites, with the very character of gothic type portrayed as somehow darker in nature. In his 1900 essay, Plain Printing Types, typographic scholar Theodore Lowe DeVinne issued a damning statement, describing blackletter as “a degenerate form of the roman character.”

Despite criticism, blackletter became a defining part of the German nation's visual character, with everyday books and newspapers published in gothic type, and children learning blackletter script at school. Some scholars even refused to read German publications set in roman type. However, during WWII blackletter was characterised as the 'German type', and debased and militarized by the Nazis for propaganda. Although the script was forbidden in 1941 – ironically by the Nazis themselves – blackletter remains touched by its cultural associations, unable to entirely shake free of its history.

Today gothic letterforms retain a dark historical resonance, but have also found new homes in visual language, particularly in that of subcultures. Yvonne Schwemer-Scheddin says, “For current music and youth cults, blackletter is a means of proclaiming multiple identities: a collective, a people, a race, a nation, heavy metal, black metal, gothic – all of which celebrate brutality, or in a highly artificial way, the symbolism of death and destruction.'

Designer David Rudnick's HyperZeit typeface, a contemporary take on traditional blackletter
Image: Designer David Rudnick's HyperZeit typeface

Gothic lettering proliferates in the visual language of the music scene, particularly in those pitching themselves as musical minorities. It's also the stereotypical type style associated with horror, which seems to reference the fear and darkness associated with its historical connotations. Type designer Gunnar Vilhjálmsson compares the typeface to dressing up in a leather jacket and ripped jeans, saying, “It's this naïve way of looking scary or getting respect. The blackletter or gothic types have that insult. That's the design programme of these typefaces, these letterforms. They have some kind of mystical dark history even though, if you know anything about it, you would see it's a normal letterform.” Some of the gothic power of the style also lies in the striking appearance of the script – diagonal, clearcut, and bringing to mind its original use in bibles and latin texts, which adds to the mysticism. “There's no other style of writing the latin script that is as bold and powerful” says Vilhjálmsson.

You can view examples of Gothic typography from the British Library archive on our Discovering Literature website.