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Artist Talk: The Semiotics of Typography

Saturday 23 March 2024

  • 20 British pounds
  • Scarborough - Workshops & Courses

Available spaces


Saturday 23 March 2024 10am-1pm with Adrian Riley The aim of this talk is to explore and interrogate types of signage that have evolved in the UK from the Victorian era onwards. We will look at typography through filters that include fashion, culture and semiotics. It will be a deep, yet down-to-earth, dive into all things lettering: where it came from and what it means. 1. An Introduction to Letters - Scarborough Seafront Free from many of the commercial pressures of the high street (which we come to in Part 2), few places afford a better timeline of public lettering than a seafront; and being the birthplace of the British seaside, Scarborough is probably the best of all locations for some typographic archaeology. Taking the signage of today as a starting point, we trace its histories hopping around the world and through the centuries with the use of archive photos, some actual demonstrations and touching on key local, national, and global events and how they're evidenced in the lettering we see today. 2. Typefaces and English Modernism - Eric Gill and the London North Eastern Railway 'Branding' is the buzzword that defines contemporary graphic design and marketing. It dictates the signage of our high streets today. But it's an older concept than you might imagine. In Part 2, we explore how the image of 20th Century England was largely invented by typographers and artists of 'the big four' railway companies (with a significant nod also to the London Underground), and in particular the work of the LNER. Not only did we invent the industrial world, but we also decided how it should look. This is the story of, and also the key to understanding, how lettering is used today. 3. Lettering and Meaning - Signs of Emotion Do letter shapes carry meaning? Can a particular typeface elicit an emotional response? In Part 3, we look at why some lettering styles carry resonances. How is it that some lettering is constantly recontexualised for new eras whilst other sorts of lettering cannot escape previous associations? We'll conclude the talk by exploring some famous brands and by looking at the key moments in design history (such as the 1951 Festival of Britain). Join us for this fascinating journey into the (sometimes misleading) world of lettering and signage. This talk takes place at: North Yorks Art School 2-4 South Street Scarborough YO11 2BP Refreshments included. Image by Tracey West.


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