This may not be my first use of type as image, but it is a good place to start. And somehow or another... 17 years ago.

DANMARK ©2006 Brian Drake


Pictured above is a poster from a series I did in 2006 at my design studio. I use an exaggerated scale and cropped view of a stamp found in a book from the 1950's. I often speak about creative being more of a process of discovery rather than invention: A set of old stamps in a book my grandmother once had, falling out on the floor of the deign studio, being the basis for a 12 poster series, about sums that concept up.

Above you can see no actual words that have any real meaning to the audience. You can discern the word "Mark" in red, but ultimately, the letters are just forms. First, the obvious: The Dutch stamp is not in english. Out side of a few western viewers, this wording has no value. This allows a viewer to begin to detach from the information delivery and merge the logic and order of type, with emotion. Second, I have exaggerated the view so much, that the letters now take on a new meaning in space and layout. They become art elements, rather than information display. The viewer is left to decide the meaning and value of the forms as artistic elements and create their own story.

The Type

It is interesting when you look a the letter forms. They are clearly a stylized version of a slab serif. They walk the line of style vs. function. Very Dutch. My hand and the blow up scale, most likely exaggerated the serif structures, or what little there were. Notice the all caps display use. This leaves ascenders and descenders out of the conversation. I find this makes a more clear use of type as imagery. Once you begin breaking caps and baselines, I feel it requires a different approach. The overall presentation has a regal quality that I play with. I purposely throw the layout askew. I also go out of my way to let the post machine marks, on the now canceled stamp, take on an artistic feel as well. It is an early at use of of interplay between found elements and creating improvised dialog, in my work.

Logic and Emotion

Logic and emotion are two different ways I can approach creation. Logic refers to the use of reason and analysis in the creation of art. If I approach my work with a logical mindset, I tend to focus on the technical aspects of the medium, such as composition, color theory, and the use of form. I may also be more inclined to create works that convey a clear and specific message, and may use symbolism or other literary devices to do so. Think of the Broken Banknote Story. There is a lot of logic in that series. Emotion, on the other hand, refers to my use of feeling and intuition in my creation. When I approach my work with an emotional mindset, I focus on expressing personal experience, thoughts, or feelings. I am also more inclined to create works that evoke a particular emotional response in the viewer, and may use color, texture, and other elements to do so. Look at my early works in Acrylic for pure emotion driven examples. However, I am not always mutually exclusive and now use a combination of both in the creation of my work. Broken Banknote attempts to walk this line and “Unicorns” absolutely archives this balance. I will make sure to include "Unicorns" in this discussuon, as there is a lot going on with type, way beyond just imagery.