XX: A Novel, Graphic – exploring the narrative potential of graphic design

Lecture for the St Bride Library by Rian Hughes, recorded online via Zoom on 2 September 2020. “As a designer, I’ve always wondered how the novel could use the full expressive possibilities of type and layout to tell a story.…

XX: A Novel, Graphic – exploring the narrative potential of graphic design

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Lecture for the St Bride Library by Rian Hughes, recorded online via Zoom on 2 September 2020.

“As a designer, I’ve always wondered how the novel could use the full expressive possibilities of type and layout to tell a story. Everyone knows readers will imbue the same text with different meanings, depending on which font the text is set in. Just this in itself presents interesting creative storytelling possibilities that the novel has only occasionally touched upon. And, as type designers, we are free to create new voices when we design new fonts, or even whole new alphabets. However, without useful application, experimental font design can be an academic and sterile exercise. Typographers create the form, not the content. We create tools, but we don’t put those tools to work. With XX I have attempted to create a form of narrative design, a ‘novel, graphic.’”

Rian has designed new fonts, curated old ones, drawn illustrations and diagrams and taken photographs to graphically enhance the narrative of his book. These are supplemented by redacted NASA reports, artwork, magazine articles, secret transcripts, and a novel within the novel called ‘Ascension’. In this talk he will give us an insight into his explorations that lead to his creation of the book to tell a story like no other . . .

‘A brilliant co-mix of text and graphic design in which sign, symbol and word are linguistically intertwined and reinvented.’ Steven Heller

‘Brilliant, exciting, absorbing and mind-blowing . . . a perfect work of art about what it means to be human in a world of gigantic ideas’ Grant Morrison

Rian Hughes is a graphic designer, illustrator, comic artist, writer and typographer who has worked extensively for the British and American advertising, music and comic book industries. He has written and drawn comics for 2000AD and Batman: Black and White, and designed logos for James Bond, the X-Men, Superman, Hed Kandi and The Avengers. He has produced Hawaiian shirts, ranges for Swatch, record sleeves for Ultravox and the Winchell Riots, and designed many typefaces which are available through his foundry, Device Fonts. His illustrations have appeared in magazines in the UK, US and Japan, and a retrospective monograph collecting his work, Art, Commercial, was published in 2001. Recent books include Cult-ure: Ideas Can Be Dangerous and Lifestyle Illustration of the ’50s. His comic strips have been collected in Yesterday’s Tomorrows and Tales from Beyond Science, and his burlesque portraits in Soho Dives, Soho Divas. Just published by Korero Press is Logo a Gogo, which collects all his logo designs for the comic-book world and beyond.

www.devicefonts.co.uk

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