Political posters and Youtube Sans: a look back at May 2017


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In May, one of the most unexpected and brilliant interviews happened when JME met Jeremy Corbyn. Also, Chelsea won the league, and Michy Batshuayi captured all the glory on Tom Jenkins’ camera.

The month also saw the release of Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s brilliant film Okja, a story – co-written by Jon Ronson – of a young girl and her super pig, and a despicable meat production corporation. Also an untitled painting of a black skull by Jean-Michel Basquiat from 1982 was sold for $110.5m at Sotheby’s New York.

In the news…

Creatives from Jeremy Deller to Studio Output and Supermundane urged people to vote in the upcoming snap election, each taking a different tact. Well, some of them at least…

Irish photographer Richard Mosse was awarded the seventh Prix Pictet by Kofi Annan for photo series Heat Maps, which documents refugee camps using a military-grade thermal camera that detects body heat. Annan commented: “Despite the catastrophic damage that we have visited on the natural world and on the lives of our most vulnerable fellow citizens, it is not too late for us to reverse the damage we have done”.

YouTube released its first own-brand font, YouTube Sans, including a play button glyph, so the brand’s icon can be typed like any other letter or symbol. And a campaign to reissue Paul Rand’s IBM Graphic Standards Manual was launched by Empire editions, and €42,800 was raised to make it happen.

Chantal Anderson updates us on her travels

In May we spoke to photographer Chantal Anderson about her series New Myths, exploring youth culture in Iceland’s remote East Fjords. We asked Chantal to share another image from her travels this year.

“This was taken in San Luis Obispo on my way up the coast to San Francisco from LA,” Chantal explains. "I had just pulled into a campground to pay when I saw this scene. The two owners of the El Camino were hanging in some tattered folding chairs off to the side and I asked if I could take a photo of their campsite. I sat there for a few minutes talking and waited for the seagull to walk into that spot. I loved that they decided to place the umbrella over their car instead of them.

“This image was made by simply being in the right place at the right time with open eyes and serves as a reminder to me to get out and make pictures as much as possible. I had been caught up with work for a few months and hadn’t been shooting much on my own when I decided to pack up my car and take a spontaneous trip up the coast.

“This year my process of scanning, editing and curating work has slowed way down. I’m leaving a lot of time and space for contemplation, whereas before I was very much in the grind of produce, produce. I’ve developed an affinity for longer-form projects which challenge my frequent desire to move on to the next idea as quickly as possible. In this new process I’m learning a lot about myself, and frequently steering toward what feels uncomfortable.”


Chantal Anderson

Ragged Edge explains the rise of the bespoke typeface

Co-founder of design and branding agency Ragged Edge Max Ottignon wrote an article for us about the power of unbranding which got a lot of people talking. Here, Max and creative director Luke Woodhouse write about this year’s rise in bespoke corporate typefaces.

“There is little doubt that the popularity of bespoke typography is on the rise, and there appears to be two key factors guiding brands towards the adoption of a unique, ownable typeface. Firstly, it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out. So any brand asset that’s distinctively yours will help drive brand recognition across channels and touch-points.

“The second reason is a little more pragmatic: cost. The price of licensing existing typefaces for brands is becoming prohibitive, particularly at scale. IBM reputedly saved $1 million a year in license fees by switching from Helvetica Neue to their own suite of bespoke typefaces.

“Channel 4 is perhaps the defining example of a successful bespoke typeface. The headline and body copy fonts work so brilliantly together while doing completely different jobs. The sharp angles of the headline typeface clearly communicate the ‘cutting edge’ the brand is famous for. It’s eye-catching and immediately identifiable, even to the casual observer. Meanwhile the body copy typeface is informative, clear and British in its manner. The most obvious benefit of a bespoke typeface is that everything a brand says will be presented in its own unique voice. It reduces the burden on the logo and other visual assets to communicate the brand’s offer, meaning you can afford to be a lot subtler in your communications.

“That’s important for ‘unbrands’ like Camden Market where a distinctive, ownable typeface allows the rest of the brand to take a back seat. It allows comms to feel much less corporate, without diluting the brand message. But it’s just as crucial also for digital brands where screen real estate is at a premium. A bespoke typeface enables you to hardwire a brand’s distinctiveness into the UI, reducing the need for the logo to be ever-present.

“Ever since modernism gained momentum in the 50s, we’ve seen a trend towards simplicity in branding and design. It’s had a resurgence recently and – as branding and design work gets simpler – the elements you use need to work harder. This puts more of an onus on functional assets like typefaces to help a brand stand out.

“The next wave could mean more expressive typography, as brands look for greater stand out. For the relaunch of the Great British Bake Off, Channel 4 baked cakes in the silhouettes of their headline typeface. The distinctiveness of the typeface meant it was immediately recognisable. If you baked a cake with Helvetica you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from Univers!”

Elsewhere on the site

We explored the bold, typographic posters of graphic designer Cecilia Serafini and the floating, monochrome figures of Mike Lee’s paintings.


Mike Lee and Cecilia Serafini

Photographer Graham Walzer shared his series Tools for Science, a charming project depicting Graham’s dad and his amateur experiments.

Alice Saey shared the intricate sketches that went into her animated music video for Mark Lotterman’s Happy; and animator Seoro Oh brought to life that familiar feeling of falling asleep in class (below).

Among the huge variety of inspirational people we spoke to in May, two highlights have got to be Thomas Heatherwick, who shared his experimental clay sculptures…

… and the creator of one of the best shows on telly, Bob’s Burgers: Loren Bouchard.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output.

Jenny is currently on maternity leave.

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