Brighter later: British seaside lettering and typography will be celebrated as the clocks tick forward


Hosted by Sarah Horn, designer at and author of En-Suites Available, with Justin Burns, Head of Art & Design at Leeds Beckett University and researcher in British seaside typography, the May 14 tour will kick off at the Comedy Carpet , then head from the promenade to the side streets and deep into the seaside town. It will feature a selection of favorite signs from Sarah’s critically acclaimed book, as well as insights and historical references from Burns.

Speaking of his love of the British seaside, Justin says: “The puff of salt and vinegar in the air, the bright lights and sounds of neon lure us to piers, seafronts and harbours. Alongside these sensory experiences, our tour of the coast is informed by the discipline of graphic design – and in particular lettering and typography – playing an important role in the identity and promotion of resorts, the forms of letters inscribed, painted or made visually pack our trip to the seaside and form the expected visual aesthetic. “

In his current work, Justin explores the relationship and importance of graphic design in the built and natural environment of the seaside. “The work has resulted in the visual mapping of the origins of some of the most recognized letterforms along the promenade,” he explains.

His research culminated in Resorting to Type, a recent exhibition at Margate that documented the influences of bold 19th century advertising typefaces such as Serifs, Slab Serifs, Fat Faces and the under-documented Tuscan in its decorative and chromatic flamboyance. “These large ‘work’ faces, originally used for posters, notices and posters in the early 1800s, were later co-opted and used for circuses, fairgrounds and theatres,” adds Justin. “Many letterforms have also been formed as part of poster designs, guides and advertisements about stations and how to get there.”

Following Margate’s investigation, ongoing studies are underway in Blackpool and Brighton, mapping the use of typefaces and the impact on the design and experience of ‘place’ at some of our most popular stations. visited. This research will lead to an exhibition of seaside typography at the Ditching Museum of Art + Craft in May 2023.

“A few miles from Brighton, the small village of Ditchling has a rich and distinct typographic and typographical history, with the museum housing an extensive archive of works exploring large display typefaces designed for transport, leisure and public information says Justin, “many of which are widely used by the sea. The museum’s collection and history will provide context for the detailed study of Britain’s seaside typographic landscape and engage visitors in summer events exploring the visual language of the coast.”

Justin adds: “Morrissey wrote ‘It’s the coastal town they forgot to close’ in a snapshot of the UK seaside lookout in 1988. Many coastal towns have since revitalized, with resorts like as Brighton, Margate and Morecambe embark on development programs that embrace their identifiable past – through a forward-looking strategy, in which graphic design makes a significant contribution.There is still much to see here, Steven .

The Blackpool Type Walk, hosted by Sarah Horn and Justin Burns, will take place on May 14, from the Comedy Carpet. To book tickets and learn more, visit Eventbrite.


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