Post-Colonial/Ethnography of type??

cldcvrgrl's picture

I am looking for Latin typefaces that incorporate appropriated forms initially found in ethnic/indigenous contexts (er, pardon that clumsy terminology?).
An example I was recently introduced to is the Churchward "Maori" face (thanks to David Bennewith at the Jan van Eyck Academie). Someone also mentioned a face based on Basque carvings.
Essentially I am looking to start a project that explores the ways type designers employ these sorts of forms (consciously or intuitively?) and what the implications of this could be in a larger context? Any literature on the subject or leads on specific faces or designers would be much appreciated.
Thanks v much

Reed Reibstein's picture

Jeremy Tankard's Arjowiggins Inuit is a good example of this. There are also a number of faux-Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese/Japanese, Sanskrit, etc. types that have been mentioned on Typophile. Try searching Typophile on Google (limit the search to just in Advanced Search) for these topics; they shouldn't be too hard to find.

Aside from these typefaces that incorporate "appropriated forms," there are a number of types that are sympathetic to non-Western scripts. A number of the typefaces coming out of the University of Reading start with the idea of mating a Roman type with another alphabet/script. See the newest ones here; see Skolar and Vesper of the new ones, and look at some past PDFs for other examples.

Finally, an interesting article that may be applicable is this one about the stereotypes that typefaces come to embody.

This looks like a really interesting project: I'll look forward to see what you produce.

Nick Shinn's picture

This from the brief biography of Joseph Churchward, in the Chank PDF for his faces:
"Mr. Churchward’s design interests reflect his rich ethnic heritage in Chinese, Tongan, Scottish, English, and Samoan cultures,
as well as the influences of his surroundings in New Zealand."

"Appropriated" would seem to be too loaded a word to describe his work.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Oh, I forgot Kris Sowersby, whose work is often infused with Maori motifs. See his Hokotohu and lettering for Strange Resting Places.

And in case Nick seized on something that others are thinking, I don't see the "appropriation" as a bad thing; I'm just thinking about Roman letterforms taking inspiration from other scripts.

Si_Daniels's picture

Discussion of the Arjo Inuit

Also a thread on type and national identity...

My advice however would be to conduct some lettering research at your local Irish pubs.

Cheers, Si

John Hudson's picture

My Nyala typeface for Microsoft might be of interest. In this case, the design of the Latin was intended to harmonise visually with the traditional Ethiopic Ge‘ez script: it is an Ethiopic typeface that supports Latin text, rather than a bi-script design. This being the case, I felt I had some freedom in interpreting some of the lesser-used punctuation characters like the dagger, bullet, curly braces, etc. The dagger, for instance, is based on the hilt design of an Ethiopian sword I saw, while the bullet and the cross ornament are based on traditional Ethiopian patterns.

cldcvrgrl's picture

Thanks for the feedback - this is no small undertaking, I'm beginning to see

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