Show: Alphabet Poster. Oliver Milner-Smith
Tell: “I created this poster during the final year of my Graphic Communications degree at the Norwich University College of the Arts, responding to the brief to create an infographics. We were given the opportunity to interpret the brief in any way we wanted, but I initially struggled for a topic. It was when I was trying to find inspiration and Googling subjects that I started to become drawn into what I was actually typing. The results of the searches ultimately became irrelevant and the process, the letters I was using, provided me with the inspiration to look at the alphabet in more detail.
“I knew very little about the history of the Alphabet and I knew early on it would be a kind of timeline snap shot of the alphabet. It provided me with a single topic to work from that could be exploded, and the research would drive my outcome.
“I had worked with someone who had a neurological condition called synaesthesia, whereby she would see letters and words as colours. Following some research into this topic I discovered that people with the condition see the letters in their own unique spectrum of colours –to make it work I took the average colour seen by those with synaesthesia. This provided the design with colour. The length of the line of each colour relates to the frequency by which each letter is used. For example, ‘e’ is the most popular and ‘q’ is the least popular.
“The actual layout started as the basis for a digital image, so the format of the wheel could rotate in a browser and areas of interest could expand to provide more information, detailing the history and further information on each letter. It now works well as a poster, and I feel it has reached a natural end of tweaking and refining.
“I can’t say that this is directly influenced by any other graphic designers, but I am sure that subconsciously I have referenced other people. I wouldn’t try to imitate anybody else, but my style is quite reductive and things I have seen in the past are bound to come through somewhere. I find typesetting really addictive and I love the work of Bibliotheque and people like Otl Aicher and Wim Crouwel. The recent Crouwel exhibition at the Design Museum blew me away.
“The alphabet poster is the result of around one week of initial work, followed by eight months of occasional refining. I tend to work that way, returning to something regularly during moments of inspiration. I’m happy that this is finished now though, and the end result is something I think works – it’s informative in a way that I hope people find aesthetically pleasing.”
Info: Oliver Milner-Smith is a Graphic and Web Designer based in Norwich. He studied Graphic Communication at Norwich University College of the Arts following previous studies in Interface Design and Motion Graphics. Before moving into design he worked in the television industry.
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