News / Graphic Design

Berlin Wall graffiti is made into a typeface to warn how “division is freedom’s biggest threat”

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Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs

Heimat Berlin has developed the Voice of the Wall typeface for non-profit art association The Cultural Heirs, based on letterforms graffitied on the Berlin Wall. It marks the 30th anniversary of the Wall’s fall back in November 1989 and uses the occasion to warn world leaders of the “threat walls of all kinds can pose to society and freedoms”.

The typeface is free to use in an online tool, developed by visualtech, wherein you can type your text and download the graphic for use on social media. The project aims to encourage people to use it to make their own “statements of freedom,” which will be collected and turned into a book to be sent to world leaders. “The starting point was the question: if walls could talk, what would the Berlin Wall say today?” says a statement from Heimat. “In this way, the typeset allows the Wall a voice and the ability to make a statement about freedom in our world today.”

Each of the letterforms was drawn from photographs of graffiti on the Wall, which became a canvas for artists and activists during its existence, yet only on the West Berlin side as people were not permitted close enough to the Wall on the East. French street artist Thierry Noir is believed to be the first graffiti artist to begin painting on the Wall in 1984, though it was already covered in largely racist and anti-American comments. His work kickstarted the Wall as a platform for artistic expression and in turn, Keith Haring painted a 300-metre mural on the Wall in 1986, depicting people linked by their hands and feet to signify unity, though this had been painted over by the time the Wall was torn down.

Today, remnants of the Wall and its art are on show at the East Side Gallery in Berlin, including murals painted on a 1,316-metre preserved section.

The project is launched with a film depicting the “the suffering the Wall witnessed” and ends with the warning: “Division is freedom’s biggest threat”. The Cultural Heirs association, which commissioned the work, is committed to integration and violence prevention as well as the prevention of discrimination and inequalities in society.

Matthias Storath, CCO at Heimat, said in a statement about the work: “Street art and iconic design can have a dramatic impact on culture, and creating a campaign to celebrate freedom and warn about division to mark this important anniversary was very meaningful to us. We hope that this project will help remind audiences of our hard-won freedoms, which we must cherish and enjoy.”

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Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs

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Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs

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Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs

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Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs

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Heimat Berlin: Voice of the Wall for The Cultural Heirs