Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Type: Why Not?

As an addendum to our earlier post on type, we thought we would share what we learned about artist Gordon Young and his long-time collaborators Why Not Associates from the latest issue of Wallpaper*. Gordon Young is a visual artist that likes to work with environments – he is always concerned with making installment pieces that match and influence their own contexts. For a Yorkshire Sculpture Park fund-raising project, for example, he made a “Walk of Art”, a pathway 110 meters long carved with the names of all the donors to the park. Another project in Ayr featured words by Robert Burns carved into the steps in front of a local pub. In other words, Young accomplishes his environmental pieces through several media, but always makes use of some form of type, some kind of written language.

... and that’s where Why Not Associates come in: as graphic designers that do everything from museum catalogs to Nike posters, they’re Young's go-to team for the precise, sleek-looking fonts that suit his every purpose. If you’re on their website, you should definitely take a look at some of their non-Gordon-Young-related projects as well – their work for the Royal Academy of Arts is particularly chilling…

According to Wallpaper, Gordon Young and Why Not Associates are currently working on an installation piece for the Crawley public library. For the project, he is etching literary quotations on fourteen green oak tree trunks that will be place around the area. Each trunk will don quotations selected specifically for the environment in which the trunks are going to be located. Each quotation will be etched in a font that suits the subject matter, the era, the author, etc. A Harry Potter quote comes in a 16th century font, while an Austen quote comes in a "feminine Joanna."

Occasionally, while perusing Young and Why Not’s extensive work together, the obvious strikes you as suddenly fascinating: fonts and styles really do affect the way we receive the written word, and, in turn the environment on which they are imprinted. If you’re keeping your eye out – like we are – for innovative and harmonious usage of type, these artists are definitely worth keeping tabs on. The oak trees at Crawley will be visible to the public in January 2009.