'Tis the season to be jolly and everyone certainly was last Wednesday when I gave a talk at the Letterform Live Beer Night by Monotype and Grafik. The event was sold out and Protein Studios was packed to the rafters with hundreds of graphic designers and beer enthusiasts. The line-up included Stephen O'Neill (Typechap), Jim Sutherland (Studio Sutherl&), Alec Doherty and David Law (SomeOne). All speakers gave ten minute talks and the evening ended with a lively panel discussion debating whether branding had died or not.
Here are some of the slides and results from the beer talk and experiment. If anyone would like to take but in the beer experiment over the holidays, there is also a link at the bottom of this page. Let me know how you get on.
For my talk, I chose the ITC Avant Garde Gothic Demi 'B' for beer, brewery etc. I felt that its graphic design and branding heritage from the late 60s resonated well with beer as a topic. Also, looking at the London craft beer logos, I discovered an interesting trend…
Out of the 83 London breweries that I could find, 64 or 77% of them use sans serif type in their logos. I am not sure why this is the case, but it may be that brands are looking for cleaner, fresher typography instead of the more traditional serif typefaces.
I thought that these lovely logos looked great; a rich visual diary of the London craft beer scene. I just felt that the sensory aspects of enjoying beer and the buzz of the alcohol.
I remember hearing about this typeface from 1989 which was a response to the perfection of type in industrial times. It was a revelation that it evolved through use and was programmed to be inconsistent and a bit distorted. I felt it encompassed the experience of having a few drinks, that it had its own story.
Many column inches seem to have been written about creatives excelling through a few drinks. And it's not just the tabloids reporting this either, it seems as if a few different studies have been done and have proven creativity is boosted by alcohol. There is even a drink called 'The Problem Solver' which is supposed to have the exact alcohol content and dosage to get your creative juices flowing. It sounds too good to be true, but then again worth exploring. I decided to combine these findings and created The Great Beer Experiment.
The idea was let's create a 'live letterform' by getting people to trace the letter 'B' before and during a few drinks to see what happens.
The Beer Shop was a perfect venue and helped find us some willing participants. I think having great beer helped!
The experiment in full flow. Some homework submitted from Hove and Brittany.
30 people took part although 2 entries had to be disqualified as they had clearly had had a few before starting.
84 drinks were consumed overall with the breakdown of totals shown above. There was even a mead drinker out there.
This experiment took place over seven locations. Five of the locations were in the UK and two in France.
These are all of the scans combined into four files before they were cleaned up.
These are the cleaned up Beer Goggles letterforms. As you can see, the tracings are generally pretty even, but as they get to the final letter it seems as if the participants cut loose a bit and start to doodle. This could be where the beer-fueled creatively (or boredom) is setting in.
Here are a few of the funny letters that made me chuckle. It's interesting what people see after a few beers.
This is the full live letterform 'Beer Googles' and the evolution through the different stages of beer drinking. You can see that as you go though the letters, it becomes a bit wobblier and more colourful.
A special thanks to Caroline Roberts at Grafik and Theo Inglis for his Monotype interview and The Beer shop for finding us some participants. Feeling festive and inspired? Please check out the link here to download and do your own beer experiments.
Please note: this activity is only for people who are 18 and over. All risks and responsibility in taking part in the experiment lies with the participant.