Creative Industries

I think it’s fascinatingly oxymoronic that the creative field of work has, over time, developed its own industry. Perhaps more fascinating is that today, the creative industry is the fastest growing sector in UK economy – which in itself is a strange idea, afterall, at what point are you able to define something as creative? The definition of creative has evolved over the last hundred, two hundred years, and is something far more different (although perhaps far more certain of itself) than in the past.

In the 18th century, art was something far less interweved in our society and culture as it is today. Buildings were designed to contain this artistic direction: museums and galleries. The focus was far more on the idea of aesthetics, than creative freedom – exploring almost the science in the creation of beauty. But soon the ‘romanticism’ movement would sweep over Europe and the focus shifted – appreciation then surrounded originality, progress and liberty – art needed to say something new. And there was also a shift towards the artist itself, society began to treat artists as potential geniuses, and embrace their ability to be imaginative, and help make society think alternatively. With this came the acceptance of far greater creative freedom – Modernism saw room for the avant-garde and the experimental to be art in themselves and design work needed to radical to be noticed. Post-modernism would eventually blur the line between high and low art, where eventually anything could be considered art if the audience would allow it. Now, we are able to celebrate the authentic and the inauthentic equally, the daft and the highbrow. Art almost would no longer be art if it didn’t hark to genres, pastiche, and value both the past and present – art is context, and it needs to remind us of something familiar, as well as inspire us.

So, with art leaking into almost all aspects of our lives, naturally it has potential to be monetized and put into the marketplace. Often, this provides us with that distinction – where only fine art is created purely for the message and for the appreciation, but art with a commercial interest or designed for mass appeal isn’t able to looked at in such a high regard. Indeed, for creative industries to remain industries, we ultimately must convince, some might even say lure, the consumer to hand over their hard-earned cash. Critics will argue that by industrializing creavity, we are also industrializing culture. By nature, when something is made commerical, its interests are appealing to the widest demographic as is possible. The result is a homogenous culture, one that’s designed to be predictable and familiar and where creativity is at risk. Some believe this is dangerous, by crafting a mass-culture, by selling products to consumers through familiarity, consumers may not choose to question these same messages and ideas, and only encourages them to conform. And the inherent problem is that this removes a fundemental property of art – that it should question everyday life, not always live alongside it.

I personally believe that art’s current universalism should be celebrating, and whilst Andy Warhol placing a few packets of Brilo Pads on a podium and calling it ‘art’ is dangerously smug, there is art in the everday – and I think that any design on a packet of cereal or tin of fish, was considered just as any other art piece was considered. Whether or not is challenges the everyday life, it was designed, and delivers a message – that, I believe, makes it art. We’re free to challenge things when they threaten us, but perhaps I’m just saying that beacuse, I too, am a conformist in a mass-culture society.

A New Specimen

Over the last few weeks I’ve been shaping and creating a type specimen to demonstrate my new font. We were able to make either a poster or a booklet, but I figured a booklet that could unfold into a poster would be the best of both worlds. And creating type specimens is a very liberating experience, because the only real objective is to create a living document to demonstrate the ‘feel’ of shapes – which in itself is an abstract concept. So really it’s all a playground to throw around ideas until it ultimately settles into something cohesive. Designing my specimen has revealed some important things about my own font which I hadn’t even seen myself while developing it, especially when bouncing it off my tutors and others in my class.

The first things that became apparent was that my font needed renaming. The silly Swedish name didn’t fit, because my font doesn’t reflect Swedish design. Instead, it soon became clear with my experimentation that the font worked best with a US-Japanese theme. People responding best to the pictures of toy robots, Yamaha keyboards and beckoning cats – so I renamed it after the cat itself: Maneki.

Specimen

It still needs work, there are some things here that clearly work better than others – maybe the US comic and rocket ship aren’t quite settling in with the theme as the other panels. But overall, a sense of hustle and bustle is for sure captured here, almost bombarding the reader like a catalogue filled with crap. And really that’s what I’m trying to go for, like a rush of snippets from the city, a city that pivots itself around my font. Hopefully I’ll expand this poster even further, maybe even twice the twice, and include some elements that travel from panel to panel. It’s been a lot of fun to make, since almost anything goes. I can’t wait to finally print it out in full, even though it’ll likely cripple my wallet.

I’m required to start a blog for my ‘Critical Perspectives’ course, so expect to see some more left-of-field posts that cover some more cultural/philosophical topics in the near future.

The Perspectacles

Last Friday we watched a clip from John Carpenter’s infamous ‘They Live’, whereby when the lead protagonist wears a particular pair of glasses, he is able to see that the rich fellars of the world are actually aliens who have put the Earth under their control. Unfortunatly the film is almost laughably dated, even for 1988, but the goofy idea is still inspiring purely for the concept.

Using the film as a basis, we too had to create our own glasses that performed an abstract function when their owner put them on. A number of my ideas revolved around making people constantly happy, like forcing them to look through a 3D model of a sunny day to keep morale high. However my sketch that gained the most attention was, what I eventually titled, the Perspectcals. These would allow you to see through all possible different points of views and perspectives, to allow everyone to reach considered opinions about certain topics, by providing them with instant empathy. They also look really cool.

Perspectacles

I thought it would be even cooler if the glasses were like three times my height and look as though the circles would just keep growing, but maintaining them at the height you see above requires enough prit-stick as it was. Maybe another time.

Such a pretty ‘face’.

Happy Halloween. I had a good day today – for some reason the weather thought it would give us one last taste of summer before the winter starts rolling in. I haven’t had a walk in the sunshine at twenty degrees celcius at nine in the morning for a long time, and I didn’t think I’d be doing it on the last day of October. Maybe it’s global warming, but now it’s nice to feel the rays. I had the entire day to take photos across our campus, and took it upon myself to walk across the fields the sit under the masion next to my University. Vast things. I don’t understand why there is hardly ever another person somewhere on those fields, especially in that weather. I suppose most of them were in the cafe.

So I’ve finished my typeface that I’ve been developing over the last four weeks. Based on the theme ‘continuous’, all the letters in my typeface connect in some way or another. I had a number of problems with readability, especially with letters that would usually have diagonal lines in them, like the K, the Q and the R. I think I’ve found the right balance of following the rules of the typeface, and making it readable for the audience. Titled ‘Plombera’ which means to plug or to fill in Swedish, for not much reason other than I liked the word, and in some way I think my typeface looks like a series of pipes, so I liked that connection. I don’t expect anyone to download or use it, but it’s a good start, and it taught me a great deal about how typefaces are created, and how important the form of letters is. If I had more energy or patience, I would like to be more involved with the typeface community, who are a delightful mix of creative artheads and perfectionist nerds. Sounds ideal.

Plombera

If you want to grab my font for whatever reason, you can download it from Fontstruct with the link below:

http://fontstruct.com/fontstructions/show/plombera

And I’d love to hear what you think. Send me an email or leave a comment.

Over the next four weeks I’ll be creating a type specimen, which is the publication that displays all the features of the font, usually in an attempt to sell the font or gain more publicity. Among more traditional fonts, these are usually thick booklets with gorgeously written texts that discuss the features of the font and it’s practicality, but among lesser known for, are more artistic and impressionist direction is taken.

I’m hoping to blur the line between the two, but I want to keep it fun, I think I’ve made a fun font.