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  • Can you help Barry Spencer’s cryptic Clara typeface find its clarity?

    Legibilitator (yes, this is a word of fiction), speculator and doctor, Barry Spencer likes challenges - after all his is a speculative type designer who often makes letters that may or may not look like letters.Based in Melbourne, Australia, Spencer -currently a university lecturer and freelance designer- has thoroughly researched, explored and played with the Latin letterforms throughout his career. This task of his has allowed Spencer to reach a point where he has fundamentally altered the way that he creates, perceives and understands the shapes of the alphabet.

    Looking through Spencer’s portfolio we are welcome to follow the many visual avenues that he has taken over time with some leading to further exploration, some inducing confusion and some purely undertaken just for fun. Clara, his latest typographic challenge is pure joy. 

    Clara began life as a challenge from Spencer’s former student Riley McDonald to create something typographic for his magazine “PRJKTR” based in Geelong, Victoria. “With the issue revolving around ‘SIN’, I decided to create shapes that pushed my ‘sin’ of letterform speculation to a new level” says Spencer. 

    Utilising grid 17 from his own #100daysofspontaneous project, Spencer tried to compose shapes that elevated the obscurity of some of his typefaces and added an element of cryptography to them. He then put together a cryptic artwork using the letters for people to try and decipher -after all Clara is in search of “clarity”.

    This typeface of his goes “against the natural order of things” by twisting and pushing the constraints of the Latin alphabet. Looking to engage with the audience and challenge them further, Spencer provides subtle clues within the text that hinted at how he created the letter. So the question is, are you ready to decode this typographic challenge? Let Barry Spencer guide you though in the text below:

    "Within this text lies the key to decoding my cryptic artwork. A few subtle clues are riddled throughout the information, so attention to detail is important for decrypting the letterforms.The first person to decode the type and tell me how I created the letterforms will be rewarded. Good luck!

    The Natural Order…

    Clara is a typeface that is specifically designed to be challenging and against the natural order of things. However, from experience I know that it’s considered a great sin to sever the ties to the existing Latin alphabet in this way, even when born from twisted typographical fun and entertainment.

    Letterforms like these are prime to invite adverse reactions from those prone to more traditional perspectives of type design because making shapes that are intentionally hard (or near impossible) for people to read adds another level of abstraction onto the already abstract Latin forms that we have become familiar with in our daily lives. Essentially, this makes them lose their purpose — communication. However, what if this was the intention from the start? Does that re-imbue the shapes with an assigned purpose? The challenge of decipherment.

    See Artwork 1

    Divided Time…

    In my work I enjoy the challenge of pushing my perception and understanding of letterforms. I constantly to advance my knowledge (and appreciation) for the potential of letters every day, in each and every project I create. However, I did not arrive at this approach overnight.

    My letterforms started out as small experimental deviations away from the existing shapes and these small changes led to larger and more experimental trials, before finally moving into far removed speculations that explore what might happen if we follow more extreme and unusual ideas.

    This led to the completion my doctoral thesis “Speculatype” in 2014 and I have spent the years since divided time between a mixture of three things: creating, writing and teaching (with public speaking and workshops thrown in for good measure).

    See Artwork 2

    Out of Our Comfort Zone…

    My argument revolves around our ability as designers and creatives to explore our professions and outcomes more than what we might think possible. Creatively, we have the ability to question the status quo and the existing understanding of what we do and make.

    Asking, “what if I did it this way instead of this way?” is a simple question that leads us to try new things and allows us to potentially innovate. Removing ourselves from the comfort of doing things the same way as everyone else (which might be considered another “sin”), challenges us in new and interesting ways.

    See Artwork 3

    Because We Can…"


  • Urban activism at it's best: Manuel Kreuzer’s poster tribute to Passau

    Manuel Kreuzer, a graphic designer from Passau, Germany shares the same passion like we do. Type.
    Bringing his love for graphic design into the streets of his hometown, Kreuzer introduced his “Passau Posters” project on September, 2016. The design rules were as simple as they should.
    “I designed one poster per week for an event that I chose and provided the poster in print resolution on the website for free” he says of his inspiring urban activism.“The posters were designed exclusively in black and white besides included only fonts”.
    The project gave him scope for exploring creative boundaries between visibility and legibility. On the other hand, Kreuzer wanted to prove how effective writing and typography can be - without picture or color - in the poster form he adores.

    Ever since the launch of his idea Kreuzer has created 52 posters. The project came to an end on August 2017 and since then Kreuzer’s introduction to Passau make his hometown a place to visit asap.
    Enter his version of Passau through Facebook ( or Instagram (


  • Village Voice: an ode to the iconic weekly gem with Google’s archive

    “Without it, if you are a New Yorker of a certain age, chances are you would have never found your first apartment” reports the New York Times on The Village Voice, the left-leaning independent weekly New York City newspaper which has announced that it will end print publication.

    According to the paper’s owner, Peter D. Barbey, the move was intended to revitalize the 62-year-old Voice by concentrating on other forms, and to reach its audience more than once a week.

    Founded by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, and Norman Mailer in 1955, the Village Voice introduced free-form, high-spirited, and passionate journalism into the public discourse. As the nation’s first alternative newsweekly, the Voice today carries on the same tradition of no-holds-barred reporting and criticism it embraced when it began publishing 60 years ago.

    The recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Press Foundation Award, and the George Polk Award, the Voice remains a vigilant investigative watchdog and a go-to source for coverage of New York’s vast cultural landscape. The Voice’s unique mix of in-depth newswriting and reporting, incisive arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews, and comprehensive entertainment listings provides readers with an indispensable perspective on the inner workings of the world’s most vibrant city.

    The Voice website, , has twice been recognized as one of the nation’s premier online venues for quality journalism and local content. The site is a past winner of both the National Press Foundation’s Online Journalism Award and the Editor & Publisher EPPY Award for Best Overall U.S. Weekly Newspaper Online.

    “The most powerful thing about The Voice wasn’t that it was printed on newsprint or that it came out every week,” Barbey said in a statement. “It was that The Village Voice was alive, and that it changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it. I want the Village Voice brand to represent that for a new generation of people — and for generations to come.”

    “The alt-weekly’s purpose was, in theory, speaking truth to power and the ability to be irreverent, and print the word ‘fuck’ while doing so’” wrote editor and writer Camille Dodero. With strong visual language, typography and illustration – after all it is a product made by and for New Yorkers - Village Voice’s mission has been accomplished too many times over.

    Enter Google’s Village Voice archive, featuring 1,000 scanned issues going all the back to 1955 and lose yourself into the iconic publication before it’s leap of faith towards the digital realm, here.


  • Be part of Jenny Holzer’s typographic art evolution. Apply within!

    “Fast-paced, high-profile artist’s studio in Brooklyn seeks a superbly organized, detail-oriented generalist-type studio assistant, whose primary area of responsibility is to support the artist and project managers through research, visualization and understanding of artistic concepts via information gathering, organizing, sharing and storing”. The acclaimed artist Jenny Holzer  is on the lookout for an assistant and this could be you. 

    For more than thirty-five years, Jenny Holzer has presented her astringent ideas, arguments, and sorrows in public places and international exhibitions, including 7 World Trade Center, the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her medium, whether formulated as a T-shirt, a plaque, or an LED sign, is writing, and the public dimension is integral to the delivery of her work. 

    Starting in the 1970s with the New York City posters, and continuing through her recent light projections on landscape and architecture, her practice has rivaled ignorance and violence with humor, kindness, and courage. Holzer received the Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award in 1996, and the Barnard Medal of Distinction in 2011. She holds honorary degrees from Williams College, the Rhode Island School of Design, The New School, and Smith College. 

    “Responsibilities will include maintaining and updating project calendars, organizing and tracking text research, processing vendor invoices and updating project budgets, proofing documents, general and very specific research related to artwork fabrication and conceptual ideation, and any other areas where assistance is needed. 

    The ideal candidate will be analytical, self-motivated, and self-aware, with the ability to anticipate and plan accordingly, and to report quickly and accurately. Must be able to solicit advice and then work independently, and willing to work in the best interests of the artwork and the studio. Unwavering honesty and confidentiality are essential”.

    So are you the right candidate for one of the most inspiring vacancies available at the moment? If so apply here.

  • Studio Zwupp's animated type for Forward Festival collide past with future

    “We connect creative heads and brands to shape moments that are built to last”. This is the motto of Forward Creatives, an innovative agency for brand strategy, storytelling and event development which pushes forward the world of graphic design, type and all things creative through its platform and its annual Forward Festival. Earlier this year, Forward Festival took place at MAK – Museum for Applied Arts in Vienna bringing together the best international and local creative heads, who provide insights into their success stories in an exciting atmosphere.

    Studio Zwupp was commissioned for the second time to come up with the FF’s visual language. With lots of animated typography, illustration and abstract shapes “the studio has referenced Wiener Werkstätte – a production community established in 1903 by Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann that brought together architects, artists and designers working in diverse fields” reports Its Nice That. “The typography is a mixture of Colophon Foundry’s Basis Grotesque, with quirky Wiener Werkstätte letters we’ve found from old posters and postcards” says the team. “The colour choices were easy: red for Vienna, blue for Zurich and yellow for Munich.”

    “Our work revolves around inspiring encounters, individuals and adventures” adds Forward Creatives on their mission. This is reflected in Forward Festival and our collaboration with various partners and clients. We believe in the power of networking, cultural context and experiences of lasting value. But more importantly, we believe in dopeness”.

    Explore the fest of creativity here