Tales of Type
IKEA sells framed alphabets, you can buy a couch called Helvetica or shop at Cotton On’s new chain of stores called Typo. If you want to sell an apartment anywhere in the inner city, a tram roll artwork is a must-have. And then dinner party conversations turn to serif versus san srif. There is no doubt that typography has entered the cultural mainstream and become a commodity, but we shouldn’t forget the utilitarian letterforms that surround us: signage. We walk past them every day, possibly not even noticing them, but they are part of our lives and the history of whatever city we happen to live in. Typographic signs, some dating back nearly a century, some brand new, all have stories to tell.
Stephen Banham has meticulously researched this
exuberant collection of quirky, poignant and often
funny stories about signage, typography and design
Tantilising topics include...
• The darker side of the QANTAS logo
• The Shell sign that inspired illegal gambling
and had to be removed
• The theatre production inspired by the Telecom logo
• A burnt fuse on a neon sign led to the discovery
of over 100 musical instruments from WW2.
Addressing design, architecture, advertising, cultural history and much more, rather than presenting the new, Characters offers a new way of looking at the familiar. Lavishly illustrated, it is a unique approach that powerfully shows how typography is a very rich form of cultural expression. Stephen Banham redefines the way we look at our surroundings and after reading this book you will never walk down the street the same way again.
About the Author
Called a ‘typographic evangelist’ by UK Design journal Eye, Stephen Banham’s design work has been covered in almost every type annual and design magazine. He is also the founder of Letterbox, a typographic studio based in Melbourne and has lectured in typography at RMIT since 1991. One of his most high profile campaigns in bringing typography into the public eye was the Death to Helvetica debate in the early 2000s. Since then he has run a series of forums on the social and cultural importance of letterforms as well as typographic film festivals. This book is a result of some two-and-a-half years of research into typographic storytelling.