I have always lived in a world of stories. Whether reading, writing, thinking or capturing them in the photos I take; I love stories and the comfort and information that they bring to us. Words are incredibly powerful at helping us to express our thoughts and dreams. But equally they can be fun; found in catchy slogans, clever puns, or the lyrics of our favourite songs. And I was blown away the first time I saw the calligram style of design on a t-shirt.
It was the layout of a F1 car, with all the major components shown as text. My OH loves that T-shirt and we were both struck by the simplicity and cleverness of the design. It was the major influence when I was creating my Lindy Moves print, and it has translated incredibly well for other designs, both of my own and others that I have seen.
What I have only recently discovered is the name for this type of design, which is Calligrams. Wikipedia describes them as …” text arranged in such a way that it forms a thematically related image”… and goes on to state …”The image created by the words illustrates the text by expressing visually what it says, or something closely associated;”…
While my version is fairly loose interpretation of the style, I was also very interested to learn that they are mostly associated with poetry. In 1918 Guillaume Apollinaire published Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916 where he uses the typography and layout of the text to help illustrate the meanings of his poems. This is a very exciting idea for future design concepts.
For me, the calligraph style allows me to really delve into the subject of what I’m illustrating and highlight the most important ideas either by their repetition or size/placement. The resulting image is full of interest but is still clean and sharp. It lends itself particularly well to screen printing and it’s such a joy to see the prints coming out so clean and crisp as I lift off the screen. I still have several designs in mind in this style, and with the possibility of incorporating free-form poetry, I am very excited to see where exploring Calligrams will take me.
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