Kiros Chu’s random glyphs pull apart typographic rules to make way for illustrative experimentation

A growing side project, Toronto-based designer Kiros Chu pushes letterforms to find inspiration for further design briefs.

6 January 2021

After finishing up the day with his freelance projects in his home of Toronto, graphic designer Kiros Chu will get started on his self-initiated and purposefully random projects. Begun as a way “to stretch some creative muscles” while also offering “the satisfaction of exploring ideas or designs that were rejected by clients,” our favourite of his experiments is Random Glyphs, a specific project for typographic experimentation.

A by-product of trying out the yearly “36 Days of Type” challenge, it was while Kiros was sketching out his ampersand which morphed into a “B” that the designer began to experiment with more illustrative type design. In an attempt to “explore variations of that letter, while trying to combine some flavour of an ampersand,” a part illustration, part typography equilibrium was reached. The outcome was unexpected and pulled apart the usual legibility rules of type design to create lettering that you maybe wouldn’t use in a design project, but certainly wouldn’t mind as a print.

From there, Kiros continued to ask himself more random questions while designing potential letters. Without any limits given, he was both the designer, client and audience too. While sketching, the designer explains he often asks himself questions, “like what would the lowercase ‘j’ look like if the title is rolled off?” or how could he “combine a serif and a sans serif ‘H’ together?”, to whether it’s even possible to “have a reversed diagonal stroke on an uppercase ‘Z’?” he adds. “That’s how the project got started.”


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, B (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)

After this initial experimental phase, Kiros explains that the process is relatively straightforward. “After deciding on a glyph, I would start sketching with pencil and paper until I got a couple ones I like,” he tells us. Bringing these into Illustrator for a bit of modification, Kiros will then print out the piece to ensure it retains an analogue quality. “Then it’s just playing with different layers of scans and colour combinations of the letters, and the paper background.”

Although self initiated and made purely for himself, Kiros reflects that this typographic exploration has “definitely made me look at letters differently,” particularly in a way “which would help me create more unique type work in other projects,” he says. “Plus, I now have lots of sketches of interesting glyphs which hopefully could be put into good use in the future.” Given how these glyphs were also created in a stream of consciousness, Kiros only hopes that viewers will enjoy the outcomes for what they are. “If people enjoy the glyphs for their aesthetics or if the quirkiness of the letterforms put a smile in their mind, I think I’ve achieved something from this project.”


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, H (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, O (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, N (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, M (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, R (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, S (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)


Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, X (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)

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Kiros Chu: Random Glyphs, W (Copyright © Kiros Chu, 2021)

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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