Graphic design student Anna Robinette invites residents to get involved with her local typography project
The Heart of Awesomestow sign, historic cornershop adverts, and grocery prices. What do all these have in common? They are all examples of lettering in Walthamstow – and lettering is meaningful because it forms part of our social backdrop.
I am studying a masters in graphic design and I want to engage people in Walthamstow in a conversation about the lettering we see in the area, and how it creates a sense of place. It doesn’t matter whether you are interested in lettering or if you have never thought about it before; I’d like to hear from as many people as possible!
Although we might not realise, lettering is one of the first things we learn at school. When we pick up a pencil to form the lines of a ‘T’, the circles of an ‘O’, and the triangles of an ‘M’, we are engaging with the design of letters – a craft called typography. We learn to leave a little space between letters, and more space between words, to write what we want to say.
It doesn’t matter which language we first learn to read and write; the principle of moving a pencil across a surface to create a mark is universal. As we grow, our writing gets steadier, and we progress from focusing on how we form the letters to how we can communicate with those around us. We retain the skills to create letters and forget we learned them, yet how words are displayed affects what we feel about people, places and things.
Each piece of lettering in Walthamstow tells us a story of the person who wrote or designed it and the community around them, whether we realise it or not. Combining them gives us collective history of an innovative and welcoming area that thrives when we celebrate our community.
I have created workshops for you to participate in, including a type treasure hunt, letter drawing, and type walks around E17. And I am now excited to share them with you!
Visit the website below to download the activity sheets and contribute to my study. The activities are all free, aimed at those aged 18 years and over, and can be done individually or in Covid-19 compliant small groups.
Discover more about local typography and get involved: