Nick Shinn is an artist whose work is concept driven, engaging font making as critical design.
Typefaces exist in two constituencies: as cultural artefacts which, through analysis of their shape, are seen to engage a broad range of critical issues, irrespective of textual content; and also as the visual element of design tools (fonts) used to create documents in which these wider associations are of no concern to the reader, who attends to the literal content of the text. It is to address the tension between these differing demands—intellectual and functional—that the process of design emerges as resolution, most specifically in the act of drawing.
Through drawing the design is worked out generatively for the entirety of each font, the execution carrying the artist’s physical signature and sense of style. At heart, meaning and function are mysteriously synergized in the shape of curves, the tenor of proportion and the rhythm of strokes—these qualities transcending description by words or numbers because, like music, they constitute a different kind of language.
It is a language which expresses succinctly how culture, technology and commerce relate to one another as they variously inform the structure of the visual system that is a typeface.