Beginning with the words Addis Ababa, Belief and Creator, it is immediately apparent that Pinterest UK’s new Black to Z alphabet is not your average ABC. Created in collaboration with cultural curator Irene Agbontaen, the new project showcases the work of 26 “game-changing” Black businesses and creators, sharing insights on what gets them creatively inspired. Each participant was asked to discuss a creative influence beginning with a letter of the alphabet (kudos to Abi Shokeye for coming up with the word “Xenacious” for the letter X). And, to complement the diverse range of ideas on display, Pinterest turned to The Elephant Room to create a bespoke typeface for the project.
“As an inclusive platform, we have an opportunity and responsibility to increase representation, in the products we build, how we support our creators and the brands we work with,” says Pinterest UK’s marketing manager, Belinda Boakye. Ten of the businesses represented in the Black to Z took part in the Black Gold Accelerator project, a recent open call held by Pinterest to discover and nurture Black business on the platform. Belinda explains that Black to Z felt like the “natural next step” to further the initiative.
Keen to highlight the “personal” aspect of the alphabet, The Elephant Room’s creative director Nina Taylor points out how each contribution to the project was influenced by the “culture, childhood, family, experiences, people and places” held dear by each participant. For example, Karen Olla, founder of bespoke candle company Oré Mi chose the word “Generations”. In the accompanying video accessed via the Black to Z pinboard, Karen pays homage to her Nigerian grandmother, explaining how the last gift she gave Karen before she died has provided continual visual inspiration for Oré Mi’s branding.
With each personal story and creative insight adding multiple layers of meaning to the project, The Elephant Room’s head of design Khutina Griffiths, “knew immediately that she wanted to create a bespoke font for the Black-Z”, says Nina. The challenge here was to create a series of letters that would collectively communicate the message of the project whilst also giving each letter a unique identity.
Every letter responds to the colour palette and mood of the imagery provided by the contributors, whilst subtly taking on characteristics of the word they chose to discuss. Some of the images were kept as the original, while others were interpreted through collage to enhance their meaning. For example, Elle Linton, a health and fitness blogger chose the word “movement”. On the pin designed for the letter “M”, an image of an athletically-clad sprinting limb is repeated several times to create a dynamic spiral. To match the image, the fluid form of the letter “M” features an exaggerated curve to evoke the sense of sudden motion. The overall effect of this approach, concludes Nina, aims to communicate a “representation of each creator’s inspiration, yet also a celebration of Black-British diasporic culture”.
Pinterest UK: A, Black to Z (Copyright © Pinterest UK, 2022)
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.