It seems a lifetime ago now that I was wandering around Norwich as student of art – Graphic Communications, to be precise, at NUCA. It’s a little scary to think it’s been six years since my first semester. While not a period I look back on with tremendous fondness – regrettably, much of that is my own fault – I met some unforgettable personalities and had great fun making stuff with them.
I delved quite heavily into typography and font design in my second year, when we were given much more freedom in our practice. I believe it was also around this time that my mother picked up her first smartphone. Besides the frightful interface, she was most perplexed by the ‘mispellings’ and the ‘weird little faces’ that were now peppering her friends’ correspondence. Granted, there was mischief to be had in deliberately sending messages loaded with as many ‘txt’ words and emoticons as possible, but I shared her pain, not so much with emoticons but the over-egged text speak. I’m fine with a casual LOL or OMG, and can make allowances for platforms with character limits, obviously. But when u c ppl rly strt pushin it 2 xtrmes it cn bcum a bt of-putn, ye? We’ve all been there. My entire brief was written around this; exploring text speak, its usage and impact – if any – on general parlance, and how, for the uninitiated, it can slash a romantic sentence into an ugly code puzzle. By this, I essentially mean I spent the research phase sourcing beautiful quotes and playing word games. Not bad!
The entire face, naturally, spiralled from the ubiquitous :S emoticon. It was a purposely minimal, cold and trying construction. Application mainly came in jumbling words up, or taking quotes and cutting characters wherever possible.
These chaps was going to play a big part of my degree show – optical illusions and Jenga-esque towers of text speak dystopia were in discussion. In having to drop out of university, these frightening characters sadly never broke out of the screen. With Cinema 4D at my disposal, however, I had a quick punt and created some 3D impressions of that landscape.
I’m reminded again how much I enjoy working with type. I should really make an effort to do more.