Telling tales through type


I just finished reading Communication Arts Typography Annual 3 and the quality of the work blew me away. It’s not so much the various types and fonts that people came up with, but how words and images were created with 26 letters in the English alphabet (there were examples in other languages as well). The fact that a message can be translated through type is an amazing idea, and not just to have words on a page. But, to use those words and shapes to communicate in a way that captures our attention, sparks are curiosity, and activates our awareness. And in the case of the above photo, a message created from little men:

“Office conference room: 11 cans of spray paint, 6 tubes of Gorilla Super Glue, 1,000 plastic army men and 20+ hours later…War Room!”

Here are a few more examples that I really liked:


This poster and the concept with the story being told through images and type really hit home for me given the work I’m doing on disaster prevention and risk reduction. In terms of public announcements and awareness, this is the kind of communication that strikes a cord with people and to get people to think about the issue and what they can do. Rather than telling (which is a common and typically unsuccessful communication technique), this ad the the concept shows people and gets us to think about what we can do to reduce the risk of disaster in the future.

“Leo Burnett, in partnership with the Ad Council and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, was challenged to develop a national PSA campaign to convince the over 150 million Americans without an emergency plan to visit their site and make one. Research told us that the main reason people don’t prepare is that they think, ‘it’ll never happen to me.’ The very idea of suffering through a natural disaster wasn’t something they could wrap their heads around. So, instead of focusing on natural disasters, we focused on the days beforethe days that look like any other day. Why didn’t people make a plan on those days? Because you just never know when the day before is The Day Before.”


Amazingly simple, yet surprisingly powerful – the red line that underlines or strikes-through the words really brings home the point of being positive and active about the issue rather than using the same old story of negativity to raise awareness of an important issue.

Action on Hearing Loss established a clearer position about its mission, marking a shift toward a more campaigning stance and a strategy defined as ‘challenging attitudes and inspiring action.’ The new underline/strike through design centers on the idea of ‘underlining the positive’ and ‘striking out the negative’ to emphasize a flexible range of key messages about eradicating the negative impacts of hearing loss.” Typeface: Gotham.


A very creative and simple way to do art! Now that’s being detailed-oriented…

Everything (except the barcode, unfortunately) was produced using a typewriter font. Photographs were recreated using the greyscale value of the typewriter characters, and lyrics and other added text. A cohesive mix of imagery and type.” Typeface: Trixie.



An excellent use of type and advertising to get people to pay attention to proper communication (i.e. spelling and grammar) especially with the proliferation of the way we all shorten or find ways around “proper” English. Although it makes me wonder if language/spelling/grammar is changing…

“From e-mail to social media, there is a disturbing trend in America to write not just incorrectlybut altogether horribly. Americans for Grammar was a blog and movement we established to promote the usage of clear and correct communication, using a very visible (and often misspelled) form: graffiti. We crafted four posters based on photographs of real graffiti and ‘corrected’ the tags using familiar proofreading characters and methods we all learned in grammar school.”

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