Students go wild for animal inspired design challenge

Design students have created an A to Z of typefaces inspired by the animal kingdom for a new exhibition at Staffordshire University

Will Bagnall, Lauren Piercy, Jed Barlow pictured in front of their work

Graphic Design students display their work in the Henrion gallery

It shows how important typography is and how it can be used to show visual characteristics of animals - and anything else for that matter!

Jed Barlow, BA (Hons) Graphic Design

It is part of a project by BA (Hons) Graphic Design students who were encouraged to experiment with type as a visual medium and convey some attribute or observation of an animal of their choice.

The ‘Typographic Beasties’ exhibition, which is on display in Henrion Gallery until 24 October, is curated by Senior Lecturer Jim Williams who is a celebrated typographer and author of Type Matters!

Staffordshire University is known for producing talented typographers, with James Gibson and Ben Lunt both highly commended in the recent Creative Conscience Awards for typography projects focussing on social and environmental impact.

Jim explained: “The principle role of letterforms is to make language visual but, for graphic designers, it is also a vehicle to explore and embed ideas.

“In this project, it is not simply about creating a likeness but, through a limited palette of typographic detail including scale, adjustments in spacing, position, choice of type and all the characters available to that typeface, creating a piece of typography that mirrors the student’s chosen animal.”

Lauren Piercy chose a hummingbird for her design. She said: “It’s based on the fact that hummingbirds beat their wings 60 to 80 times per second, creating the mmm sound.”

Her design incorporates this sound into the bird’s name using bold type in ‘Hummmmingbird’. She added: The project has shown me that type can sometimes be complicated but there’s always a reason behind it and the same when it’s simplified down.”

Will Bagnall sunk his teeth into the challenge and thought outside of the box to represent the king of the jungle in his lettering.

He explained: “Whenever you watch a nature documentary, lions always have flies flying around their eyes and nose. So I took that and the ‘i’ in lion and put lots of little flies around it. What I found it taught you was that there’s more to a word than just the letters, there’s something visual.”

Course mate Jed Barlow was inspired by the hyena’s laugh in his work and hid the animal in ‘HA HA HyenA’. He added: “It shows how important typography is and how it can be used to show visual characteristics of animals - and anything else for that matter!”

Typographic Beasties is on display until 24 October in Staffordshire University’s Henrion Gallery, College Rd, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DE. Visitors to the gallery can also enjoy an exhibition which celebrates the work of visionary Staffordshire architect Cedric Price.

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