Creativity can change the world; a bold statement and sincere belief which everyone in the Vitamin studios hold. And when we all came back to work after the festive break, the catastrophic wildfires in Australia naturally came up as a topic of conversation. Beside seeing people set up GoFundMe pages for volunteer firefighters and pledge nudes for donations, it quickly got us thinking about how we as creatives could find a way to bring genuine and positive action using design.
Ultimately this self-set brief came down to a balance of exposure and real world result; a simple poster design shared as an Instagram story or social post might get seen by people, but what does it actively drive from there? How does it amount to actually helping the people and environment? To begin we created a set of custom animations fed through Giphy for anyone to search and share on their own Instagram stories, raising highly accessible awareness for the wildlife. Rather proudly they’ve currently had over 290,000 views, although still no measurable contribution to the world. So we went back to thinking about the problem at hand…
Disaster and recovery are about communication. They’re distributing a message to call for support, sharing insights and letting anyone provide their input to help too. It’s about a journey. Spreading a story. This is why we wanted to give the creative community a new voice to communicate through. A font for spreading their own stories, and in accessing it, actively donating 100% of their purchase towards supporting those in need.
Our process began with the typographic backbone of the creative industry; arguably the world’s most famous font which needs a suitably minimal introduction, Helvetica.
Cutting a reference font from 300gsm paper, it was important to keep the topic of the issue at the heart of the idea, so we burned each letter by hand resulting in wholly new character forms. Allowing the flames to accentuate the ink traps, singed edges to emphasise stroke contrasts, and letting the ascenders and descenders smoulder for greater variance among characters; these fine details transformed our clean-cut reference into a bold distressed aesthetic which embodied the issues we wanted to tackle.
Doing so also allowed us to appreciate the unpredictable and destructive nature of the wildfires on the most macro scale imaginable. Photographing and digitising each of these characters through Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and finally Font Forge, we aimed to keep a balance of legibility and roughness to the typography which would allow the world’s most famous font to bring serious good back to the world. While this reactive project draws from the destruction and chaos of the news, it looks to result in the true optimism and change which will come in time.
To show your support, please send us proof of you donating to any Australian charity tackling the wildfires (to firstname.lastname@example.org), you will then be emailed a .TTF of TopicType AUS. Thank you.
This article was written by Robert Lloyd, Art Director at Vitamin London; a digital innovation studio who continues to try and Push the Possible, translating ideas into exciting experiences which are more accessible to everyone, and keeping both partners and their audiences in the spotlight.