Tré Seals on Protest Graphics, Typography and Design with Pentagram Partner Naresh Ramchandani


As he said Eye on design, Vocal Type “is a character foundry for creative people of color who think they have no say in their industry. This is for creative women who think they have no say in their industry. This is for the creatives who are tired of being “inspired” by the same creations from different people and wondering why “.

Seals has had a lifelong design journey: he has been writing in cursive since he was in kindergarten; sold graffiti-style business cards for $ 3 to his classmates when he was ten or eleven years old. In high school he drew tattoos; and at 20, he promised himself that at 25, he would be an internationally renowned designer. What he is now, having founded his eponymous college-based creative studio and Vocal Type a year later.

Within the framework of D&AD dinner with A series of online events, Seals was interviewed by Naresh Ramchandani, President of D&AD and Partner of Pentagram London. The cat was both fascinating and really helpful in her practical advice for designs and was titled “Protest, Typography, and the Struggle for Justice – Tré Seals on a Practice Rooted in Purpose.” “ Here, we’ve only extracted a few of the nuggets of wisdom inside.

Police Bayard by Vocal Type

Police Bayard by Vocal Type

On entrepreneurship

I have watched my parents run their own business for 30 years. So this entrepreneurial spirit was already in me. And from a young age, I remember my dad telling me, “If you want to succeed at something, you have to either do something that no one else will. And it was kind of inspired every thing I did.

About the process

As far as my process goes, it sort of has different starting points. For example, I can start with a movement, I can have a movement that I want to highlight, but I don’t know exactly what the end result would look like. I dig into this movement and find a specific event that is really inspiring that relates to this movement.

From there, I’ll try to find a piece of typography that several people relate to. It’s one thing with all my work: it’s never a sign that a person has done; it may be a sign that 100 people were carrying or a banner as it reinforces this idea of ​​unity. Once I identify all of this, I will try to find an activist associated with this movement. As for the percentage of drawing and what I do on the computer, it varies from project to project; it depends on how many letters or characters I have access to from the original source material.

James font by voice type

James font by voice type

On his professional career in design and typography

I did this internship in 2014, and my boss pushed me a bit to explore typography more. They asked me to draw a 12 foot high chalkboard mural on the first day. And then from there he made me write posters by hand, make a typographic logo for a brand – he saw it was in me. Even as a graphic designer, my logos are rarely illustrative. Around 2018 I was working on another brand identity job and was so bored. I reached out to my client and asked, “Would you mind if I made a custom typeface for you?” Because I just didn’t feel like what I had was working. It was kind of a turning point for me when I realized that ultimately I want to do typography.

As a graphic designer, I work with all kinds of people. But as a typographer it’s a different feeling. When I worked with branding clients, they always wanted something very professional. It was very rare for me to find a client who was willing to choose something different.

How to develop a style

When I was in college I went to this career seminar where there was a panel of business owners. One of them said that every customer, like every industry, has its own language. It is not important that you are fluent in all languages, but at a minimum, understand those languages.

As for the approach, I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. So every design decision, from typography to color to layout, must have a reason.

Stonewall displays by voice type

Stonewall displays by voice type

On the relationship between design and social issues

There is either too much information on a topic or not enough. I feel like a lot of the designers I’ve met don’t know where to go for this information. The number of designers I have met who have never heard of the issue of diversity in design surprised me: you don’t hear much about it outside of things like a showcase of people’s work for fight this problem. I would love to see more pieces around things like how can designers create a more eco-friendly world? I would love to see more plays and more conversations around the issue.

Also, I think some of these issues are very broad and actually difficult to get a full understanding of. I think it’s really important because the climate crisis is something you can’t get a handle on. The more knowledge you have about a topic, the more interesting it is.

On the transition from graphic designer to typographer

One thing that I experienced as a typographer when trying to enter the industry is that other typographers were so open and friendly and eager to expand to grow the community. So I would say just contact as many typographers as possible.

Ruben font by voice type

Ruben font by voice type

On how students should approach gaining experience in the design industry

I feel like at a time when we get so many emails and almost no mail, this is probably the best way to market yourself. People still love him. For example, when I was a student, I had a wax seal made for my last name and sent letters to people.

Take an interest in things outside of design: anything outside of design can be your biggest influence.

On productivity

The things that have helped me focus, especially during the current pandemic, are taking a 15 minute break every hour just to get up, stretch, go out for a minute, just breathe some fresh air. I feel like enjoying those moments of clarity really invigorates you and helps you think through all the issues that come up. I watch the clouds when I feel stuck.

Martin font by voice type

Martin font by voice type


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